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Dog Ate Dryer Sheets? Risks And What You Need To Do Now!

dog ate dryer sheets

There’s simply no predicting what items will find their way into a canine’s mouth, but what do you do if your puppy or dog ate dryer sheets? Our canine companions are notorious for chomping on almost everything, from our shoes to dangerous plants and chemicals.

However, we can’t blame them since dogs explore the world with their mouths. Bored and hungry pups are the most likely to engage in indiscriminate eating. Some household items your pooch sees as inappropriate delicacies are far from safe for them. Among these are the seemingly harmless but toxic dryer sheets.

Sometimes, it takes an interactive feeding mat to curb your pup’s random eating, but it may go beyond that. Look at signs that your dog ate dryer sheets and what to do to ensure their safety and health.

What Happens If A Dog Ate Dryer Sheets?

If a dog eats dryer sheets, it can cause detergent toxicity (poisoning) in dogs or an intestinal blockage. Large quantities of dryer sheets will irritate the mucous membrane and the stomach lining. Severe cases can also lead to a nervous system breakdown, lung damage, and acute kidney failure.

Dryer sheets pose significant risks of gastrointestinal obstruction and poisoning if a dog ingests them. A blocked GI tract is dangerous and even fatal, requiring surgery in severe cases. Chemicals in dryer sheets wreak havoc on your dog’s body and nervous system and can even cause acute kidney failure.

Dryer sheets contain many chemicals, such as benzalkonium chloride, chloroform, and cetrimonium bromide. They contain fabric softeners with cationic and anionic surfactants, making them toxic to dogs. Most household cleaners and detergents contain these harmful substances, even when they aren’t listed in the ingredient list.

What happens when a dog ingests a dryer sheet depends on how many they consumed and whether the sheets were used. A study on beagles showed the effects of ingesting various detergents. At high enough doses, dogs died or suffered major damage to the upper alimentary tract.

However, most dogs won’t have too many issues if they swallow a small piece of a dryer sheet. It’s really about how much they ate relative to their body weight. However, those that eat a lot of dryer sheets, are very small, or are highly sensitive, can experience serious consequences.

It is crucial to detect detergent poisoning promptly to seek urgent medical attention, seeing as consuming dryer sheets can be fatal to dogs. Your dog may have luckily eaten just half a dryer sheet or a used one. While dangers are reduced in these instances, they aren’t harmless.

Dog Ate Dryer Sheet Symptoms

The symptoms of a toxic reaction to dryer sheets vary based on the dog and the number of sheets consumed. Generally, the most common symptoms of detergent poisoning include the following:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Excessive drooling
  • Lack of appetite
  • Distended abdomen
  • Burns or lesions around or in the mouth
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Excessive shaking
  • Muscle weakness
  • Collapse
  • Seizures
  • Secondary dehydration due to electrolyte imbalance caused by prolonged vomiting and diarrhea.

These symptoms can happen if your dog has any kind of poisoning, such as when your dog eats chapstick. Seek immediate medical attention when you notice these signs and your dog happens to have visited your laundry area.

The longer your dog stays with the dryer sheets in their system, the more damage will occur. Dogs with milder symptoms like vomiting can escalate to seizing and collapsing over time.

Are Used Dryer Sheets Toxic to Dogs?

Used dryer sheets can still harm a dog, despite having less concentration of chemicals than an unused one. The chemicals can remain in the sheets even after use in the dryer, causing detergent toxicity.

Used sheets can also cause obstructions in a dog’s intestines, whether or not they contain toxic levels of chemicals. If these sheets have leftover chemicals, the effect of consumption will be similar to consuming unused dryer sheets.

The effects will range from vomiting and diarrhea to more severe lung issues, acute kidney failure, and collapsing or seizures. There’s a smaller probability of chemical effects occurring in dogs that have ingested unused dryer sheets, but it should never be ignored.

Are Bounce Dryer Sheets Toxic to Dogs?

Fresh dryer sheets, such as bounce dryer sheets, are highly toxic to dogs, especially in large quantities. These dryer sheets contain cationic softeners, which can poison a dog upon ingestion. Almost no brand of dryer sheets, or any detergent, is safe for dogs, particularly in huge amounts.

Dryer sheets work by reducing static cling in clothes, and all brands of the product aren’t pet safe. These are a few popular dryer sheets; you’ll notice nearly all of them contain several dangerous chemicals in their ingredients.

  • Mrs. Meyer’s clean day dryer sheets
  • Bounce dryer sheets fabric softener
  • Better life dryer sheets
  • Method dryer sheets
  • All fabric softener dryer sheets for sensitive skin
  • Great value ultimate fresh dryer sheets

Your dog may be drawn to dryer sheets because they remind them of you. Their playful nature also causes them to chase an unused dryer sheet which can be floating in the house. Some manufacturers claim their products are pet-safe, but it’s best to steer your dog clear of any detergents.

Will a Dog Poop Out a Dryer Sheet?

Most dogs poop out dryer sheets in about 1 to 2 days, during which they pass through the entire digestive system. In some instances, dryer sheets may get stuck within the gastrointestinal tract, causing blockages, particularly if the dog ingests too many.

A study of 499 dogs showed that dogs that swallowed a “non-linear” object did better than ones that swallowed a linear object. What this means is that because dryer sheets are soft, the chances are good your dog will poop it out. But they may still cause a blockage. Symptoms of blockages to the GI tract include:

  • Vomiting, leading to severe secondary dehydration
  • Anorexia due to reduced appetite
  • Weakness
  • Pain upon abdomen palpation
  • intestinal necrosis and perforation
  • Straining to poop

Intestinal blockage is a deadly condition requiring surgery in certain situations. Extreme cases of GI obstruction can lead to death without immediate medical attention. If you happen to have seen your dog ingesting a dryer sheet and they don’t pass it out in a day or two, they may have intestinal blockage.

Nearly any day-to-day foreign objects dogs place in their mouths are an intestinal blockage hazard. It may look endearing when dogs gnaw on items like your socks, but it’s game over when they swallow them.

What to Do if Your Dog Eats a Dryer Sheet

Staying calm and calling the vet as soon as possible is the best response to your dog eating a dryer sheet. While it’s only natural to want to do the most to help your pup, you may sadly hurt your dog in the process.

1. Try not to induce vomiting unless your vet advises it

Firstly, we strongly advise against trying to induce vomiting in your dog yourself without medical guidance. The ingested dryer sheet can block the esophagus as it comes up during vomiting, causing further complications.

However, a medical expert can advise and instruct you on how to induce vomiting in your dog. The most common home remedy to cause vomiting in dogs is 3% Hydrogen Peroxide. Inducing vomit in dogs is time-sensitive, and it’s more critical to do it about two hours after the dog eats the foreign item.

2. Call your vet ASAP

When it comes to your dog eating inappropriate stuff, time is of the essence. The longer a dog stays without medical attention, the more likely they are to experience more severe clinical signs. It’s time to act if you see an open box of dryer sheets or anything else that leads you to suspect their consumption.

Your vet may require you to show them the type of dryer sheets your dog ate. You can also contact ASPCA Animal Poison Control at 888-426-4435 in case vet offices are all closed for emergency assistance.

3. Detergent poisoning after-care

Your dog should recover smoothly with prompt medical intervention. During this time, you can feed your dog a bland diet of chicken, rice, or some potatoes. These foods are easily digestible and will help calm your dog’s tummy.

Prevention is the best cure for dogs eating dryer sheets. The best way to treat dryer sheets symptoms is to prevent them in the first place by the following:

  1. Give your dog mental and physical stimulation through walks- A bored dog will show behaviors like biting, barking at nothing, and indiscriminate eating
  2. Keep your laundry room closed and dryer sheets out of your dog’s reach
  3. Secure your trash to prevent your dog from getting to used dryer sheets
  4. Look closely at the ingredient list- Although you can’t escape chemicals in detergents, some have more than others

Final Thoughts

Dogs are curious creatures, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them eating dryer sheets. While most dogs experience mild signs like vomiting and lethargy, others can experience GI blockage and organ failure. The severity of a dog’s symptoms depends on how many dryer sheets they’ve consumed.


Tamsin De La Harpe


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.