If your dog went rummaging through your handbag, you may be googling what to do if your dog ate chapstick. Dogs, inquisitive animals, can snack on several off-limit items, some being more harmful than others. On top of that, lip balm can be very enticing to dogs, so they can’t help themselves.
The sweet flavor of lip balms due to xylitol can be why your dog was drawn to chapstick in the first place. Other dogs are bored and decide to entertain themselves with items that have your smells, like socks or chapstick. Such dogs will benefit from interactive games like snuffle and slow feeders or more exercise.
Small dogs can react to chapstick more severely than larger ones, even with the same amount of chapstick. This article discusses the symptoms of chapstick poisoning that will help you know to seek urgent veterinary assistance.
Is Chapstick Bad For Dogs? What Happens If a Dog Ate Chapstick
Some chapsticks contain ingredients that can be toxic to dogs. A dog that has swallowed chapstick may experience adverse reactions like vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, and lethargy. This is especially true if the chapstick contains xylitol or dangerous essential oils.
Xylitol is a common artificial sweetener added to sweets, toothpaste, and many lip balms. While safe for humans in moderation, this artificial sweetener can pose significant risks to canines, especially in large amounts.
While your dog may not have ingested enough lip balm to cause major concerns, you can’t rule out the possibility of toxicity. Here is a list of common ingredients that make chapstick toxic to dogs and why they’re dangerous:
- Xylitol: This sweetener can cause dangerously low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia) in dogs upon ingestion. Xylitol affects canines differently from humans because it results in a potent release of insulin from the pancreas, affecting blood sugar. Excess exposure to xylitol can also cause liver failure in dogs.
- Essential oils: oils like peppermint, cinnamon, tea tree, citrus, and aloe vera are poisonous to dogs in large amounts. Pet owners need to tread cautiously to avoid liquid potpourri poisoning in dogs. Most chapsticks contain essential oils to give them a pleasant scent, which can poison your dog.
- Phenol: Some chapstick brands add phenol to their dogs which is toxic to dogs. Phenol poisoning manifests as drooling, muscular twitching, and refusing to eat.
- Sunscreen: Sunscreen is amazing for your skin but not so great for your canine buddy to eat. Ingestion will likely cause stomach upset in a dog.
- Camphor: It’s readily absorbable to skin and toxic to dogs
If a dog eats chapstick and even the tube, they can suffer from intestinal blockage. A dog that ate a chapstick cap can also experience GI blockage, especially if they’re a small breed. Intestinal blockage is a serious condition that needs medical attention and even surgery in severe cases.
Dog Ate Chapstick Symptoms
A dog that has eaten chapstick may exhibit signs of an upset stomach, like vomiting and diarrhea, especially if they at a lot of it. Symptoms of chapstick toxicosis include:
- Severe secondary dehydration due to electrolyte imbalance from constant diarrhea and vomiting
- Muscle twitching
- Burns or lesions to the mouth or lips
- Sudden itchy skin
- More severe signs like
These are relatively broad signs that may indicate many types of poisoning or even illnesses. While many dogs exhibiting milder symptoms such as vomiting improve after some time, it’s best to be safe than sorry. Seek medical attention as soon as you notice any of the above signs.
Clinical signs of toxicosis in dogs often manifest within six hours and almost always within 24 hours. This can be enough time for severe damage to occur within your dog’s body.
Dogs experiencing chapstick poisoning and intestinal blockage will show similar symptoms listed above. Most dogs pass out chapstick tubes and caps in one or two days, and if yours doesn’t, they might have GI obstruction. This is a severe condition that can cause serious illness and even death left untreated.
What Chapstick brands are toxic to dogs?
The good news is that in most lip balm brands, the amount of every ingredient is not enough to poison the average dog. The most common ingredients among all chapstick brands include petrolatum, octyldodecanol, some parabens, beeswax, cetyl alcohol, and seed oils.
All these are mostly harmless to dogs in the amounts they occur in chapsticks. However, if your dog eats enough chapstick, they are likely to swallow something toxic. In high enough doses, this can be dangerous.
Most ChapStick contains menthol, which can affect your dog’s oral and digestive tissues, and camphor which isn’t safe for dogs.
Here is a breakdown of some of the most popular chapstick brands and the ingredients we frown upon for dogs.
- EOS Chapstick: praised for lack of petrolatum and plenty of antioxidants. It contains vanilla extract, whose concentration can be toxic to dogs in large amounts
- ChapStick: Most chapStick flavors contain Methanol and Camphor, as do most medicated lip balms. Some varieties have dye and sunscreen
- Burt’s Bees Wax: It contains several natural ingredients like beeswax but has rosemary and peppermint essential oils that can cause liquid potpourri poisoning in dogs.
- Blistex: Has camphor, phenol, and menthol that can cause vomiting and irritation in dogs
- Nivea Lip Balm: The citrus oil linalool has insecticidal properties and metabolizes in the liver, causing toxicity in canines.
- Carmex: Contains SPF that’s great for lips but not dogs. It also has camphor and menthol, so this is dangerous for dogs to eat.
- Vaseline lip therapy: Has raspberry fruit extract, which may be too concentrated for dogs
- Aquaphor Healing Ointment: Some varieties can contain SPF.
- Lip Smacker: Has undefined flavor and fragrance ingredients that could be bad for dogs.
Many lip balm brands market themselves as all-natural and should, therefore, not contain xylitol. However, some brands may conceal additives by using their scientific names.
What you should remember is that most chapsticks don’t have dog-toxic ingredients. The telltale sign should be observing symptoms of substance poisoning and seeing chapstick tubes lying around.
Why Do Dogs Like Eating Chapstick?
Some dogs seem obsessed with chapsticks due to their sweet scents and flavor. Sometimes dogs go through phases of eating the things you touch as well. Dogs have an advanced sense of smell, and all the scents that make your favorite lip balm are amplified in canines. Other dogs are bored and have nothing to do but indulge in a tube of chapstick.
Lack of stimulation, both mental and physical, is the cause of most unwanted and sometimes weird behaviors in dogs. These odd behaviors include pica (indiscriminate eating), where dogs eat non-food items like dryer sheets and even poop.
What Do I Do If My Dog Ate Chapstick?
The first and most important thing to do when your dog ingests chapstick is to remain calm. A vet is better positioned to give you instructions in such a case of chapstick poisoning.
Remember, in most cases, a dog (especially a large dog) won’t eat enough chapstick to really do anything more than perhaps get a runny tummy. Nevertheless, it’s important to monitor your dog in case the symptoms escalate.
1. Observe your dog
Watch out for any symptoms of chapstick or product poisoning in your dog, such as vomiting and refusing to eat.
2. Call your vet as soon as you suspect substance poisoning
Urgent medical attention determines how much damage chapstick poisoning will do to your dog’s body. Some pet parents will understandably but incorrectly try to induce vomiting in their dog. The most considerable risk is a dog choking when the object returns to the esophagus or choking on their vomit.
Your vet will observe your dog’s symptoms and prescribe the necessary medications. Treatment usually depends on the severity of the toxicosis. Some dogs have mild symptoms that go away on their way and can be managed by a bland diet.
Other dogs with severe symptoms, particularly those with xylitol poisoning, need more intensive treatment. This includes IV fluids, antibiotics, and liver protectants, best done by a vet.
3. Gather what remains of your chapstick
Hopefully, you were right on time before your dog ingested the chapstick tubes and cap. If so, take note of the brand of lip balm your dog has consumed because the vet can inquire about it.
4. Monitor recovery
Most dogs recover from eating chapstick fairly smoothly, especially if they didn’t eat too much. Recovering dogs will benefit from a bland diet such as rice and chicken to help manage symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting.
To avoid chapstick toxicity from occurring again, you can take a few preventive measures, such as
- Take your dog for daily walks: A tired dog is a good dog. Understimulated dogs have a hard time and will bark at nothing, chew stuff, and can get aggressive.
- Give your dog interactive toys and puzzles for mental stimulation
- Keep chapsticks safely tucked away: It may be challenging because dogs can find even unsealed chapsticks
- Crate them based on how long your dog can stay in a crate to avoid an overall mess in the house.
Dogs can eat chapstick, which affects each canine differently depending on their size and the amount of chapstick ingested. There is mostly no need to worry since most chapsticks’ ingredients aren’t enough to get dogs sick. However, contact the vet if you notice signs like vomiting, diarrhea, and lack of appetite.
Tamsin De La HarpeAuthor
Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.
Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.
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