As a dog parent, you are well aware of the fact dogs do many weird things. For example, eating unusual and inedible junk around the house like blankets.
Surprisingly “Help, my dog ate part of a blanket” is a frequently searched phrase on dog forums and sites. In simple words, if your dog ate part of a blanket, what you need to do depends on the type of blanket, your dog’s size, and the amount of eaten blanket. In a best-case scenario, your dog will pass the eaten blanket piece, and worst-case scenario, you will end up in an emergency clinic for foreign body removal.
If your dog decides to feast on a blanket, there is not much you can do to stop this. However, it is essential to understand why a dog would feel inclined to eat blankets so you can prevent similar situations.
To help you, we will explain why dogs eat blankets and what you need to do in case your dog swallows a blanket piece.
THE DIFFERENT BLANKET MATERIALS
Blankets can be made of different materials, including cotton, fleece, wool, mink, acrylic, and knitted polyester. Some blankets can feature more exotic materials like silk coverings or crocheted afghan coverings. In simple words, they can be made of either natural or synthetic materials.
Either way, the good news is that the material itself is not toxic to dogs. Therefore, the potential risks associated with dogs eating blankets rise from physical limitations and are mechanical rather than chemical intoxication.
WHY DO DOGS EAT BLANKETS?
Wondering why dogs eat blankets and other fabrics? Well, there are several possible reasons.
It is essential to come to terms with the fact that your dog is a born chewer. Chewing is beneficial for dogs as it helps keep their teeth strong and healthy. Chewing provides mental stimulation, too – it relieves tension and is quite entertaining.
However, excessive chewing and chewing on inappropriate objects like blankets is not something any dog owner desires. A dog that likes to chew on a blanket can either tear the fabric and spit out the torn pieces or swallow them. Swallowing them is the worse option.
It is impossible to prevent your dog from chewing. Instead, it would help if you focused on redirecting its chewing tendencies onto acceptable and harmless objects.
While on the topic of explaining weird dog behaviors, we should say a word or two about blanket sucking. Blanket sucking is an umbrella term that encompasses sucking on various items, including blankets, pillows, covers, sheets, and plush toys.
Blanket sucking is a self-comforting mechanism in dogs. It is triggered by stressful situations and more likely to occur in dogs that did not receive adequate maternal care while young pups. Dogs that miss the sucking experience tend to seek their mothers’ warmth and coziness in blankets or other similarly textured items.
On its own, blanket sucking is not dangerous. However, if it evolves into an obsessive-compulsive disorder followed by chewing off and eating parts of the blanket, it definitely warrants professional attention.
Pica or allotriophagia
Pica or allotriophagia is the medical term for abnormal appetite – when a dog craves and eats non-edible items. Dogs with pica may develop a particular desire for rocks, dirt, hair, wood, plastic, nylon, paper, or fabric.
In the past, it was believed that pica occurs in dogs with nutritional deficiencies. Today, we know that the condition is much more complex and can result from several underlying issues, including boredom, stress, and the presence of intestinal parasites or worms. The key to solving the problem is finding the underlying cause.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF DOG EATING BLANKETS
Whenever your dog does eat a blanket, you should hope for the best and prepare for the worst. In the case of eating a part of a blanket, the best option would be for your dog to get rid of the eaten blanket on its own.
This is possible in two ways. Your dog can vomit the eaten piece or poop it out. Vomiting and pooping are more likely to occur if a large or medium-sized dog eats a small piece of blanket.
If a small dog eats a sizeable piece of blanket, it will develop complications and require some assistance to get rid of the foreign object.
The main concern associated with eating blankets is gastrointestinal obstruction. This can develop if the swallowed piece of blanket partially or completely blocks the flow of food and water to or through the intestines.
Additionally, the blanket piece pressures the gastric or intestinal walls, thus compromising the blood supply and causing necrosis to the surrounding tissue. In more severe necrosis cases, the tissue may become perforated.
Intestinal perforation is followed by bacteria spilling out into the abdominal cavity and potentially developing fatal septic peritonitis (inflammation of the peritoneum).
Basically, there are two forms of gastrointestinal obstruction:
- Gastric outflow obstruction – if the blanket gets stuck in the stomach
- Small intestinal obstruction – if the blanket gets stuck in the small intestines.
A dog with gastrointestinal obstruction will manifest the following clinical signs and symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Inability to defecate or producing tarry stool
- Excessive drooling
- Abdominal bloating
- Reluctance to lie down
Gastrointestinal obstruction is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition. If your dog ate a piece of blanket, do not wait for the above-listed red flags – take your dog to the vet as soon as possible.
Choking and aspiration pneumonia
Dogs know they are not supposed to do certain things and may feel panicked when caught in the act. In other words, if you walk in on your dog eating a piece of blanket, it might overreact and accidentally inhale it instead of swallowing.
Inhaling a foreign object can trigger two life-threatening situations – choking and aspiration pneumonia.
Choking occurs if the piece of blanket blocks the airways and impairs breathing. A choking dog requires immediate first aid and subsequent veterinary attention.
Aspiration pneumonia can develop if the piece of blanket ends up in the lungs, where it causes infection. Aspiration pneumonia is a severe condition requiring prompt and aggressive veterinary attention.
WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOUR DOG EATS A BLANKET?
If you saw your dog eating a piece of blanket, it is advisable to call your trusted vet as soon as possible and schedule an immediate appointment.
Once at the vet’s office, there are several different approaches and steps.
Vomiting induction is advisable in cases where the ingestion occurred shortly before the vet visit. If it has been more than a couple of hours, there is no point in inducing vomiting as the swallowed piece will have already moved into the intestines.
If the vet decides to induce vomiting, it will give your dog a special injection and probably send it home. Alternatively, the vet may decide to keep the dog for observation.
Suppose the vomiting induction does not do the trick or is not registered because of the timeframe. In that case, the vet will hospitalize your dog and focus on stabilization – rehydration and correcting the electrolyte status.
The intravenous fluids combined with certain drugs can sometimes speed up the elimination process. However, the vet will perform continued radiographs to monitor the blanket piece’s progression through the intestines.
If the blanket piece is stuck, the vet has no other choice than to have it surgically removed. Once the blanket piece is removed, the vet may perform intestinal resection and anastomosis.
Namely, if the intestines surrounding the lodged blanket piece are too damaged, they need to be removed. This is a relatively complex procedure, and it is associated with significant postoperative complications.
Recovery and release
Dogs that have been subdued to surgery need to spend around two or three days in the hospital for monitoring. During the recovery phase, they will be given antibiotics, anti-pain medications, and anti-nausea drugs.
Upon release, the vet will prescribe the same medications but in oral form and explain their use.
For dogs that received prompt and adequate attention, the prognosis is good. Dogs that were not treated timely are facing a poor prognosis.
Waiting for something your dog ate a couple of days ago to come out the other end is the non-glamorous part of being a dog owner. Dogs are notorious for their dietary indiscretions and not very picky food choices.
In those terms, it is not uncommon for dogs to eat parts of blankets – yours or their own. Many factors determine what happens after a dog eats a blanket. Anyway, even if your dog seems fine, it is best to be checked by your trusted veterinarian.
Some consequences take days to develop, and early examination can help prevent further complications.
Can dogs digest blankets?
The dog’s stomach is not designed to digest blankets and other fabrics. Therefore, if your dog ate a piece of blanket, chances are it will either vomit the blanket or eliminate it via its poop. Sometimes, the blanket piece can get stuck and cause an obstruction. Anyway, it is very improbable for the blanket piece to be dissolved and digested.
Can dogs die from eating fabric?
Yes, dogs can die from eating fabric. More precisely, dogs can die from unmanaged complications triggered by eating fabrics, for example, gastrointestinal obstruction.
How long does it take for a foreign object to pass through a dog?
Usually, it takes objects between 10 and 24 hours to pass through a dog. However, the exact passing time depends on the foreign object – type and size. Sometimes, particular foreign objects may need over 36 hours to pass through or even longer.