It is always scary when your dog eats something it shouldn’t. Normal foods, and even healthy for us can cause them serious harm, and much fewer foods that aren’t so good for us. But what happens when your dog gets into tin foil?
While tin foil isn’t inherently dangerous for dogs, it can pose some serious health problems such as GI blockage and choke. Also, since tin foil tends to be a carrier for food, you have to worry about the other items your dog may have ingested.
Keep reading to learn more about tin foil, what signs to look for when monitoring your dog, and what to expect with your emergency vet visit.
Why Did My Dog Eat Tin Foil?
There are a few reasons why your dog might have eaten tin foil. The most common is that there was something wrapped in the foil that smelled good. If you had food that was fragrant inside of the tin foil, like meats, leftovers, or even seasoned vegetables, your dog may have been enticed and eaten aluminum foil.
Foil is also shiny, and may be attractive to play with. If your dog gets distracted, or the piece of foil is small enough, they may accidentally ingest it during their playing. Some dogs are just curious and use their teeth to explore, and may eat unused aluminum foil that is still n its container.
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What Is Tin Foil Made From?
Despite the name, tin foil isn’t made from tin. Originally, tin was a common ingredient in making foil, hence where we got the name from. But as aluminum became easier to mine, it replaced tin in foil making. Now, while we colloquially use the name tin foil, that actually isn’t what it is. Instead, it is aluminum foil.
What Is the Difference Between Tin Foil and Aluminum Foil?
Nowadays there is no actual foil made from tin on the market. Though many people still call it tin foil, it is actually aluminum foil. This is because it is easier to mine and use. This is also why you can’t find tin foil on the market anymore. It was suspended after the second World War as it was easier to produce and saved money. It also doesn’t corrode like tin would, which means things could be sent out further and last longer wrapped in aluminum than in tin.
Is Aluminum Toxic?
Yes, aluminum is toxic to both people and animals. However, when it comes to aluminum foil ingestion, even a small dog would need to eat aluminum foil in large amounts to experience aluminum toxicity.
While it is very rare, it is a possibility to have a dog sick from aluminum foil. This usually only happens when it is in the body for a long time or if they eat a large amount at once.
Can Aluminum Foil Hurt My Dog?
There are quite a few ways that aluminum foil can hurt your dog. Aluminum foil ingestion has a few dangers that can be caused when a dog eats it. While it is rarely toxic, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to worry about your dog when they ingest some.
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Do you know how much foil needs to be ingested to cause a choking hazard?
Unfortunately, there is no specific amount. Smaller dogs have a higher chance of choking than larger dogs, but it depends on the size eaten, how it folds up when swallowed, and if it can easily pass through the system.
The same goes for intestinal obstruction. If the piece is dense enough or small enough that it can pass through easily, there is minimal chance of an obstruction in the gut. However, if the piece is big enough, or gets caught on something, it can lead to issues.
Depending on what else was on the foil, your dog may get a stomach upset. Our dog, for example, can’t handle chicken. While it isn’t toxic to him, it makes his stomach very upset. If he managed to get a hold of some foil with chicken in it, he would not only have the danger of the aluminum foil, but a rather upset stomach that could cause stomach problems, diarrhea, and more.
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You may be wondering how much aluminum foil is enough to cause toxicity? It is a pretty large amount. Feral dogs tend to eat a large amount of foil almost daily without any issues.
Generally, it is only when the aluminum gets stuck in the body for a long time that toxicity starts to occur, such as when the aluminum foil isn’t passing as it should. Though it is rare, veterinarians will tend to check, just in case.
If your dog ate particularly toxic foods on top of the aluminum foil, your dog may have serious problems as it tries to pass the foil, but also needs to throw up the toxins. This is when you should take your dog to a veterinarian immediately.
What Else Should I Be Worried About With My Dog Eating Foil?
Besides just the issue of the foil, it also matters what the foil was wrapped around. While it is possible that your dog got into unused foil, such as a spare scrap that fell to the floor, it is pretty likely that they instead found themself curious by a particularly tasty smell.
Cupcake liners tend to be a particularly common one for dogs to get into.
How Do I Know If My Dog Ate Something Other Than Just Tin Foil?
Try to find any leftover pieces of foil that your dog ate. Or see if you can remember what is missing and what could be in the aluminum foil your dog ate.
Most dogs are attracted to food smells, so if you have a foil that had food wrapped in it, this likely is what your dog got into. While aluminum foil can cause problems, such as intestinal obstruction, toxic foods can be a lot more dangerous.
Things like fat, chocolate, or raisins can kill your dog rather quickly, especially if not thrown up.
If you notice food on the wrapper and can’t remember what all was in it, take it to the vet with you, so they can try to determine what your canine companion may have eaten.
Symptoms of a Dog Eating Aluminum Foil
If your dog ate aluminum foil, there are a few things to look out for. While you are waiting for your dog to safely pass the pieces of foil, watch for the following signs, as they may be a warning that your dogs are in pain or distress.
- Unusual behaviors (such as being panicked or depressed)
- Difficulty breathing
- Refusing food
- Dog’s behavior is more hyper or calmer than normal
- Dog’s gut is swollen
If your dog ate a level of aluminum foil that is toxic to dogs, then the following signs can warn of aluminum toxicity.
- Loss of balance
- Irregular or unusual behaviors
Dog Ate Tin Foil, What Now?
The best thing to do when you suspect or know your dog has eaten aluminum foil is to remain calm.
You need to be able to assess the situation and find out if you can find any sample pieces of the foil eaten by your dog. Once that is done, call the vet immediately, as foil can cause some serious issues. They can provide veterinary advice and tell you what your next step should be.
If your dog ate toxic foods as well as the wrapper, and they ate only a small amount of aluminum foil, then they may tell you to immediately try to make your dog vomit.
If they ate a bigger piece of foil, or you don’t know how long it’s been since they ate aluminum foil, then they may ask to bring your dog to the vet so they can monitor your dog’s condition and your dog closely.
Generally, unless there are other toxins involved, there isn’t much to do except for letting the foil pass through the system. This can take anywhere between 24 and 72 hours depending on several factors.
If you aren’t sure if your dog passed foil after 72 hours, you will want to take your dog to the vet just to make sure everything has gone as it should.
Should You Induce Vomiting In Your Dog That Ate Foil?
No, it is generally better not to induce vomiting. If you want to make sure you act quickly and do the right thing, the best option is to call an emergency vet. They can walk you through whether it is better to get your dog to vomit right away or not.
While it may sound like a good idea at first, you don’t want to cause your dog to choke if the foil gets stuck in their throat. You also don’t want to cause injury to your dog if the sharp parts of the foil cut through their throat or stomach. Unless your vet gives you explicit instruction to get them to vomit right away, it is best to take them to a vet and wait.
The only time they may ask you to make them vomit is if other factors may be more dangerous, such as if they ate raisins or chocolate. That’s because these foods can be extremely toxic to dogs, and leaving them in their system for too long can cause a lot of problems.
Does Aluminum Foil Dissolve In The Stomach?
No. Remember how we said that it would take a lot of aluminum foil consumption to cause toxicity in your dog. This is because it doesn’t dissolve in the stomach. If your stomach acid could break down foil, then there would be a much higher danger.
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How Long Does It Take For Aluminum Foil To Pass?
This depends on the size, the gut health of the dog, and how easily the foil is passing through the body. Generally, if a dog has eaten aluminum foil, you can expect it to pass in a window of 24 to 72 hours. If it has been longer than this and your dog hasn’t passed the foreign body, it could be a sign that there is an obstruction.
48 hours is a good average to expect. But if it takes over 72 hours, there is a good chance that there is a blockage. This can cause your dog to experience a lot of pain and many other health issues, so it is best not to wait.
What Will My Vet Do When A Dog Eats Aluminum Foil?
When a dog eats aluminum foil, it can be life-threatening if not handled properly. For this reason, it is best to get veterinary guidance before doing anything. It is very likely that they will tell you to bring in your pet if your dog consumed aluminum foil.
This is because aluminum foil may cause intestinal obstruction. Usually, a vet will require x-rays on your dog’s gut. They may also get a blood sample, just to make sure there are no toxins in the body. If there are toxins, such as from eating chocolate, they may try to get your dog to vomit. This is because, although there is a danger with having your dog vomit, as they could choke or injure themselves, leaving these toxins in the body is a much higher and more likely danger. Always remember that your vet is a professional with lots of training. They know what they are doing better than you do, and have the ability to remain calm where you might not be able to.
However, if it was just the foil, your dog will be monitored for serious symptoms, pain, or distress. They will try to allow dogs to pass foil naturally. However, if they notice any signs, your veterinarian will try to help remove the foil with an x-ray and perform surgery if needed to keep your pet safe.
How Do I Prevent My Dog From Eating Tin Foil?
If you don’t ever want to learn how much foil can cause problems in your dog, it is best to prevent your dog from eating aluminum foil at all. This is far easier said than done, though, and trying to figure out what exactly to do can cause a lot of problems.
To keep your dog from eating any amount of aluminum foil, it is best, to keep any foil out of reach, and to throw used foil into a sealed trash can. Remember, most dogs are attracted to the smells of the delicious food inside of the aluminum, rather than the foil inside. Hiding these smells by putting the foil in the fridge or by adding another layer with a Tupperware container or sealed bag can also help to reduce temptation as the smell can either go away completely or be a lot more muted.
Many dogs don’t have a chance to get into food wrappers or rip up tiny pieces of foil if you keep a close eye on them and keep everything far back on the kitchen counter. So get into the practice of keeping dangerous objects and food items away from dogs and other pets so they can’t get into any amount of foil.
Remember that while most dogs won’t be able to reach the counter, a large breed dog might not have a problem. Keeping dogs out of the kitchen is also a great way to prevent your dog from eating things they shouldn’t. Train your dog to not enter the kitchen, or set up baby gates if they like to get into trouble when you aren’t home.
Many people with dogs also get trash cans that can fit under sinks, or have lids too hard for their dog to open. This prevents them from rooting through the trash, especially while you are gone.
As you can see, while aluminum foil can cause some serious health issues in your precious pup, it is often not the main concern during that situation.
More often than not, it is the food that your dog may have eaten when getting into the foil that poses a larger problem. This can cause toxins to build up in your dog, making it a dangerous balance between letting the foil pass safely and trying to get your pet to through up.
If you notice your dog has gotten into aluminum foil, it is best to call a vet right away, just to make sure everything is going as it should. They are better equipped to monitor the foil and make sure it is passing smoothly, and they can be there in case a dangerous situation arises. In the beginning, though, keeping calm is the key focus when it comes to handling this situation. It helps your dog to keep calm and not be anxious and also allows you to look for clues and watch your dog’s behavior better.