Sometimes, dogs take being called “my baby” by their owners much too literally.
So much so that, not only do they locate and chew on pacifiers meant for actual human babies- but also swallow them too while they’re at it!
So, what’s going to happen if your dog ate pacifiers?
Given the size, shape and material of most pacifiers on the market nowadays, they can be a significant choking or intestinal blockage risk once ingested.
Though the plastic is non-toxic, it can tend to become slippery with saliva and may lodge itself in a dog’s throat. Even if it does make its way successfully into the stomach, the probability of an obstruction can be high- especially if the dog is a smaller breed.
There are usually a couple of options that you can take if your dog has eaten a pacifier.
The first is to induce vomiting through the use of 3% hydrogen peroxide. This procedure can ideally be performed if less than two hours have passed since the pacifier was swallowed.
If more than two hours has elapsed since ingestion, inducing vomit will no longer be effective as the pacifier may have already passed into the intestines. In this situation, the only thing to do is to wait and see if the material will pass naturally by itself over the next few days.
If you notice any signs of stomach pain, fever, constipation or lethargy at any time during this period, take your pup to the vet immediately. A blockage may have occurred, and emergency surgery may be required to remove the offending object.
A lot of dog owners wonder what pacifier fascination is all about.
If your dog ate a pacifier, you probably have the same question too. There are many theories about dogs and their obsession with pacifiers.
Some believe that dogs are attracted to them because of their sweet smell.
Typically, pacifiers smell a bit like milk. This can definitely attract a canine, and make them want to put the pacifier in their mouth.
Considering that attraction to sweetness is based on the primal instincts of a dog, this theory isn’t so far-fetched. In the wild, anything sweet-smelling often equates to high carb content, which translates to more energy.
Another school of thought attributes their fondness for pacifiers to a behavioral issue.
This angle looks at how eating pacifiers can be a comfort move for a dog. Human babies suck on their thumbs, or clutch blankies or their favorite teddy bear. Similarly, dogs can suck on pacifiers — and eat them— in their quest for comfort.
A more encompassing approach will account for both factors. Most likely, your dog ate a pacifier because of both an instinctual and behavioral attraction.
Interestingly, the desire to suck on and eat up a pacifier does not stop when a puppy gets older. Most dogs carry this habit on into their adult years, especially those who didn’t have a chance to explore this during puppyhood.
Whatever the reason may be; comfort suckling, instinctual drive, or just a dog that is a very oral explorer, the fact remains that dogs love pacifiers. They even go out of their way to seek them out and chew on them or swallow them whole.
Because of this, some dog owners have taken to buying their canine family dog-sized pacifiers.
This new ‘trend’ has spread enough for canine toymakers to make doggie pacifiers specifically. Opinions regarding this practice are quite varied. Whether you should give your dog their own binky seems extremely risky to some, while others just think it’s cute.
But is cute dangerous? And when does giving them their own pacifier translate to them eating it?
Yes and no. Pacifiers are toxic depending on who is “eating” them. If your dog ate a pacifier meant for your human baby, you might have to take it a bit more seriously. The smaller human pacifiers are more dangerous for dogs than brands specifically marketed for them.
Pacifiers (for kids) are not intended for dogs, so they tear up more easily under such brute force.
Even if your dog did not mean to eat a pacifier whole, tearing it up can cause stray pieces to end up in their system. The latex material used to make binkies for kids is indigestible. This means, if your pooch swallows it, they might encounter serious digestive issues.
Chewed-up pacifiers are usually responsible for a host of health issues, from choking to internal blockages.
If a chunk of the pacifier is logged in their throat, it can cause them to gag and choke. Luckily these are removable at home, and as soon as you realize your dog is choking you must do everything you can to remove the object.
Even if you remove it successfully, it is always best to see a vet once you realize your dog has been eating a pacifier as it may have swallowed other parts as well. If the pacifier ends up in the bowels or intestines, it can pose a high health risk.
Rubber pacifiers are likely to cause internal obstructions in your pooch, making it hard for them to eat or poop. The bigger the dog, the less likely it will cause an obstruction. But this is not on a continuum, as big dogs get pacifiers stuck in their bowels too.
Yes, if your dog ate a pacifier it will usually be able to pass it through the bowels.
After your dog eats a pacifier there isn’t much you can do except maybe induce vomiting. Still, inducing vomiting is only possible for 2-4 hours after swallowing. Always consult your vet first before trying to induce vomiting.
Vomiting can be induced in your dog by giving it 3% hydrogen peroxide at a dosage of 1 teaspoon/five pounds of body weight. Encourage it to move around for 10 minutes after ingestion, after which the dog should throw up.
If you have a big dog, it will be easier to pass a pacifier- but it doesn’t always happen. This is especially true if your dog ate only one pacifier instead of multiple ones at a time.
Once your dog stops eating and starts vomiting, take them to a vet to get an X-ray. The X-ray is vital to check if the pacifier is blocking the intestinal passage.
Once a pacifier is stuck in your dog’s intestine, it causes an obstruction, making it impossible to digest food. An X-ray allows you to see how bad it is. Still, if bits of the pacifier have been chewed off— like the nipple alone— it might not show up in the X-ray.
Doctors recommend surgery when the intestines are blocked. Taking out the pacifier can help alleviate the life-threatening danger of a swallowed pacifier.
The best way to keep your dog safe is to keep them away from all pacifiers meant for human babies. Try to keep them in places that are inaccessible to them, like high cupboards or cabinets with child lock.
Sometimes, though, it is impossible to keep your dog away from a pacifier.
Usually, an unattended one will be lying somewhere around the house, and your dog will get to it before you have any idea. In this case, you can induce vomiting, or take them in to see the vet. The expert will know what to do to help your pooch.
Regardless of these measures, dogs are orally adventurous, so they will always find something to chew on.
Even if you keep all pacifiers hidden, there might still be one or two dangerous items (like glue traps or cough drops!) lying around. A better alternative is to get your dog softer chew toys to keep them busy.
A variety of acceptable chew toys will serve your dog well. You can purchase toys with varying degrees of hardness to keep them busy and occupied for longer periods. Over time, they will be weaned off the unsafe pacifier habit.
Agree or disagree all you want, but most experts have explicit opinions on these matters. Giving a dog a pacifier is highly frowned upon. Of course, the choice is yours entirely. But getting your dog their own pacifier just seems like encouraging a dangerous habit.
Dogs are at risk of swallowing any small toy, and a pacifier —especially human-sized ones— fits in this category.
Plus, even if you got your dog a doggie binky that’s sturdy enough to withstand canine jaw strength, it is basically encouraging them to relate with smaller pacifiers the exact same way.
If you have an infant or toddler that still uses pacifiers, getting your dog one might not be the smartest move since they can not differentiate which is theirs. Even when you don’t get them theirs, they are still at risk as long as pacifiers are around them.
With an infant or toddler sibling, it’s best to keep your pup away from pacifiers- and vice versa. Storing pacifiers in places where they can’t be reached is vital in keeping your dog safe. Smaller pacifiers are dangerous for overall dog health.
In a situation where your dog ate pacifiers, there are two main issues that you will need to keep an eye out for.
Pacifiers (especially larger ones) can be a significant choking and stomach blockage risk for both small and large canines.
A slippery rubber pacifier can quite easily become lodged in a dog’s throat if they try to chew on one. Once this happens it is vital to remove it as quickly as possible, as choking and a lack of oxygen can become fatal.
If your dog manages to successfully swallow the pacifier, either whole or in pieces, it could then cause an obstruction in the stomach or intestines. This will result in symptoms such as stomach pain, fever, constipation, and lethargy.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it is important to take your pup to the vet immediately for an X-ray and treatment.
As with many dangerous situations, prevention is the most effective solution! To keep them safe, make sure that you don’t leave pacifiers lying around the house and only provide safe, canine-friendly toys for your best friend to play with.
Heather Abraham is an owner of two dogs, one cat, a leopard gecko, and a parrot (who her dad still cannot teach bad words to), and an avid blogger. From the time she was a young girl, she always felt a connection with pets. She brings her love of every type of pet to you, with information on animal nutrition, medication, toys, beds, and everything else in between. Along with newly-on-board veterinarian DVM editor Elena, she puts pups first while offering other various fun tidbits along the way.