When someone says shea butter, the first thing that comes to mind is moisturizing. After all, shea butter is one of the most popular additions to high-quality shampoos and skincare products. So, what happens if a dog eats shea butter?
Help, my dog ate shea butter! This is a much more common scenario than it sounds. The good news is that shea butter is not toxic on its own. However, the other ingredients included in the products can be. Therefore, just to be on the safe side, if your dog eats shea butter, give the vet a quick call.
In this article, we will talk about what happens if a dog eats shea butter. We will cover the potential consequences and give tips on what to do.
WHAT IS SHEA BUTTER?
Shea butter is a specific type of fat extracted from the nuts of the African shea tree. In its raw form, it is ivory in color but once dyed with palm oil or borututu root becomes yellow.
Shea butter is wildly popular for its nourishing and moisturizing features and is an indispensable addition to skincare products (for humans and dogs). However, shea butter is edible too (but these properties are not as famous and are usually limited to certain African specialties).
IS SHEA BUTTER SAFE FOR DOGS?
Yes, shea butter is safe for dogs. In fact, it is more than safe – it is beneficial. The most common use of shea butter in dogs is in skin and coat care products – especially conditioners and balms for dried and cracked skin. This is because shea butter has exceptional moisturizing properties.
IS SHEA BUTTER TOXIC TO DOGS?
No, shea butter is not toxic to dogs. However, that does not mean dogs should consume it. Namely, even though shea butter is not toxic, dogs can experience adverse effects after consuming it because of two reasons.
Reason number 1: Butters cause gastric upset
As a pet parent, you are well aware of the effects of fat on the digestive system. Dogs need small amounts of fats as energy sources and for various body functions. However, if excessively present, they can wreak havoc on the digestive system. A dog that ate shea butter is likely to manifest the following signs and symptoms:
- Lack of appetite
- Abdominal pain
In more severe cases, the shea butter may even trigger an acute pancreatitis bout. Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas. It manifests similarly as gastric upset, but it is much more painful and dangerous. Namely, pancreatitis is a potentially life-threatening condition and warrants immediate veterinary attention.
Reason number 2: Other compounds in the products
While the shea butter is not toxic, other compounds in the product can be. For example, many body lotions and products feature essential oils or alcohol. Both compounds are toxic to dogs and can trigger severe poisoning cases. Such cases can manifest with:
- Excessive drooling
- Lack of coordination
Plus, shea butter products often contain humectants and emollients. These are not directly toxic but very likely to cause digestive upsets.
CAN DOGS EAT SHEA BUTTER?
While dogs are able to eat shea butter without much issue, it is highly advisable you contact your veterinarian to make sure the ingredients listed in the shea butter your dog consumed are actually safe. If, however, you are asking if you can feed your dog shea butter. Then the answer is, if it is just raw shea butter and not part of any beauty product, then it is safe for your dog to consume.
WHAT DO I DO IF MY DOG ATE SHEA BUTTER?
There are two scenarios in which dogs can end up eating shea butter:
- You applied some skincare product, and the dog licks it off
- The dog stole the package and started licking or chewing.
In both cases, adverse effects are possible, and you need to act appropriately to contain the damage and help your dog. To make sure you do what needs to be done, follow these simple steps.
Step number 1: Separate the dog from the shea butter
The first thing you need to do is make sure your dog will not consume more shea butter than it already did. So, you need to either dispose of the package or wipe the shea butter off of your dog.
Step number 2: Assess the situation
Once the shea butter source is eliminated, you should assess the situation. Take a look at your dog and see how it is behaving. If possible, try to estimate how much it ate and read the label on the product.
Step number 3: Call the veterinarian
Next, you need to call the vet and explain what happened. Try to be calm and provide as much information as possible. The more you can tell the vet about the incident, the easier it will be for the vet to give further instructions.
Step number 4: Wait, induce vomiting, or go to the office
Based on the information you provide, the vet will instruct you to wait and observe your dog for any signs of distress, induce vomiting (if the ingestion occurred less than 2 hours ago), or visit the office for a full evaluation and proper management.
If the vet says to wait and see, you need to monitor your dog closely for the next couple of hours and notify the vet in case anything seems out of the ordinary. Even slight changes in the dog’s behavior can indicate deeper issues, so you need to be extra attentive.
When the vet recommends inducing vomiting, it is best to ask for more specific instructions. The easiest way of inducing vomiting at home is using hydrogen peroxide. However, you need to check with the vet first.
Finally, if the vet recommends an in-person visit, grab the dog (and, if possible, the shea butter product) and go to the office as soon as possible. If necessary, the dog will stay in the clinic until completely stabilized.
SUMMING UP: WHAT IF A DOG EATS SHEA BUTTER
Dietary indiscretions in dogs are not uncommon. Sadly, shea butter products are often ingested by dogs. Although the shea butter itself is not toxic, it is too fatty and can cause digestive distress. Plus, the added ingredients used in the shea butter can be toxic to dogs.
Bottom line, if your dog eats shea butter, it is advisable to call the vet. Depending on the situation, the vet may recommend waiting and seeing, inducing vomiting, or going to the office. Either way, you need to be calm and proactive to get to the bottom of the problem.