In this article you will find:
- Is There a Difference Between Aluminum Foil and Tin Foil?
- Is Aluminum Foil Safe for Dogs?
- 5 Hazards of Aluminum Foil Ingestion in Dogs
- What Should You Do If Your Dog Eats Aluminum Foil?
- Signs to Watch Out For If Your Dog Just Ate Aluminum Foil
- What to Expect at the Vet After Your Dog Has Eaten Aluminum Foil?
- Can Dog’s Stomach Digest Aluminum Foil?
- Can Aluminum Foil Kill a Dog?
It’s not a secret that dogs can be easily lured by the mouthwatering scents of our homecooked meals and tasty takeaways. With so many delicious foods being cooked in and stored in aluminum foil, it’s not surprising if they end up eating pieces of foil that cover the food.
Should you be worried if your dog ate aluminum foil? And what should you do if you see your dog eating not just your turkey sandwich, but also the tinfoil that was wrapped around it?
Is There a Difference Between Aluminum Foil and Tin Foil?
A lot of people use tinfoil to refer to the shiny object that is used for cooking leftover dishes as well as wrapping up them. And this causes confusion between tinfoil and aluminum foil. So, to set the record straight, tinfoil is no longer available in the market.
Today, this shiny item that we use in cooking leftover dishes and wrapping foods is called aluminum foil because it is made from aluminum, rather than tin.
In the early 20th century, tins were used in making foils for use at cooking facilities. Many people said that tin affected the taste of the meal. In addition, foils made out of tin are not particularly flexible, making them harder to use.
Hence, aluminum foil, which is more flexible than tin foil and it doesn't alter the taste of the food took over the market in the middle of the 20th century when it became widely available.
Today, some people may still use tinfoil to refer to aluminum foil and it's totally understandable as such a term may have stuck to them the most as the years have passed. But again, when talking about household foil at home, it should always be aluminum.
Is Aluminum Foil Safe for Dogs?
Aluminum foil is not toxic to dogs, but still, it’s hard to say that it is completely safe for dogs. While eating foil won’t be harmful to our canine friends most of the time, we can’t deny that there are just a lot of things that can get wrong. And when it comes to our dog’s health and safety, we definitely don’t want to gamble.
Moreover, dogs also have sensitive stomachs. A slight change in their diet may already cause digestive upset. And single wrong ingestion of non-edible items such as aluminum foil can cause serious problems, especially if the food that comes along with it contains ingredients that are toxic to dogs.
5 Hazards of Aluminum Foil Ingestion in Dogs
Most of the time, your dog will just be fine if ever he accidentally ate the foil containing his favorite goodies. He will simply pass the aluminum foil without experiencing any issues and the foil may not even be noticeable in the poop. As long as your dog behaves normally, you have nothing to worry about.
Nonetheless, the ingestion of this non-edible item is not something that must be casually allowed. A dog who has eaten aluminum foil may also experience several complications ranging from simple gastrointestinal upset to more serious problems such as intestinal obstruction.
Below are five hazards of aluminum foil ingestion in dogs, and the signs that you should watch out for:
The first danger from the ingestion of aluminum can also be identified immediately. Depending on the amount of aluminum foil a dog consumed, this non-edible item can be a potential choking hazard, especially when consumed in large quantities.
Aluminum does not get softened when eaten and it actually becomes tougher if crushed up. Aluminum foil can also ball up when being chewed. That's why it may cause an obstruction to your dog's throat as he tries swallowing it.
It can be challenging to deal with this situation. So, if you notice your dog coughing frequently, struggling to breathe, or breathing more heavily than normal, take him to the vet immediately.
If you were trained on how to respond to situations like this, you can perform the Heimlich Maneuver to propel whatever it is that is blocking your dog's throat.
2. Gastrointestinal Upset
When a dog consumes a large amount of aluminum foil, he will have a harder time passing it out of his system. While the acid in a dog’s body is stronger than a human’s, it is still not strong enough to digest this non-edible material. Hence, its presence inside your pup’s tummy can cause him to experience gastrointestinal problems, such as gastritis.
Additionally, there’s also a high chance that the foods wrapped inside the foil are rich in fats and seasonings that can be dangerous for his health.
Dogs who consume even a small amount of fatty foods are more likely to experience gastrointestinal upset. What’s more, these tasty human foods may also contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs.
3. Food Poisoning
As mentioned earlier, the most common danger that comes with aluminum foil ingestion is the food that was wrapped in it. That’s why when you see tinfoil hanging on your dog’s mouth, your priority should be to find out its content.
If you are sure that the foil only had meat and some oil inside it, your pup should be fine. However, if the foil contained garlic, chocolate, and other toxic ingredients, you may want to call your vet as a precaution.
4. Potential Aluminum Toxicity
Although the majority of veterinarians may say that the toxicity of aluminum foil is unlikely, the risk is still there. There are cases where dogs ingesting aluminum experienced adverse effects on them, but these happened in dogs who consumed large quantities of aluminum foil. While this possibility is rare, it should never be tested.
5. Intestinal Obstruction
Another risk of consuming foil, particularly in smaller breed dogs and puppies is that it can get stuck inside and cause intestinal obstruction.
This is true if your dog is swallowing an enormous amount of foil like crumpled balls. It is quite easy, though, for smaller pieces to make their way out through the digestive system.
In general, intestinal blockages can be diagnosed by identifying symptoms such as the inability to defecate and loss of appetite. The signs of intestinal obstruction may not be that alarming in its early stage, but it can easily escalate and lead to serious consequences.
Intestinal obstruction is considered an emergency case, and it requires surgical intervention. Hence, if you suspect that your dog has an intestinal blockage, you should take him to the nearest veterinarian immediately.
What Should You Do If Your Dog Eats Aluminum Foil?
If your dog ate tin foil, stay calm, assess the situation, and respond accordingly. First, you need to get a rough estimate of how much aluminum foil was consumed, and what’s inside it. Was the foil used to wrap fatty human food? Were there signs of toxic ingredients?
When it comes to aluminum foil ingestion, most of the time, the real danger comes from the food inside the foil, especially if it contains garlic, chocolate, and rib bones. Additionally, you should be more alarmed if you have a puppy or a smaller breed dog since they are more at risk for obstruction, as well as for potential toxicities given their smaller body.
Generally, while the aluminum foil is not toxic to dogs, it’s best to keep a close eye on your dog and watch out for unusualities. Also, right after your dog ingested the foil, you should ensure that he is not choking.
If you notice him gagging, and having difficulty breathing, perform the Heimlich Maneuver to clear his airway and then take him to the vet immediately or contact the animal helpline right away.
You should also watch out for signs of disorientation, fainting, and discomfort. If your dog has no appetite and doesn’t want to drink, immediately take him to the vet.
If your dog is active and alert, and you are certain that the food contained in the foil is free from toxic ingredients, it’s time for you to let your dog’s digestive system do its job. You can expect to see mall pieces of the foil on your dog’s stool.
However, to confirm that your dog is not in danger, you should observe your dog’s bowel movement for the next few days to ensure that he is not experiencing intestinal obstruction. If you notice that your dog is going to the toilet less frequently, you may want to take him to the vet.
Signs to Watch Out For If Your Dog Just Ate Aluminum Foil
If your dog ate/is currently eating aluminum foil, and he is behaving as if nothing happened, you should still keep an eye on him. Besides, even after a trip to the vet, you should continue to observe your dog for any symptoms that may indicate that your pup is in trouble.
It usually takes around 6 to 8 hours for a dog to poop after eating something. However, you should still monitor your dog closely for one to two days, and watch out for the following symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Pain or discomfort
- Bloating or hyperactivity
- Blood in his vomit or stool
- Difficulty in defecating or constipation
- Signs of potential aluminum toxicity such as tremors, loss of balance, or other unusual behaviors
What to Expect at the Vet After Your Dog Has Eaten Aluminum Foil?
When you take your dog to the vet for aluminum foil ingestion, expect that they will check your dog’s initial vital signs and overall condition.
Prepare yourself to answer questions regarding your pup’s situation, such as the amount of foil he ate, the food inside it, as well as the time that elapsed since your dog ate the foil.
Depending on the situation, some vets may run a blood test to check whether anything is poisoning your dog or none. After this, you can expect your vet to determine where the foil is by doing x rays or ultrasound. Once the location of the foil has been identified, the vet will decide whether to do a manual extraction through surgery or endoscopy.
Most often, your dog won’t need to undergo these invasive procedures as the foil can simply pass through his poop. Hence, most of the time, vets will prescribe laxatives and anti-toxins to fight the effects of the toxic ingredients and prevent constipation or intestinal obstruction.
In any case, bringing your dog to the vet can definitely give you peace of mind. Hence, whether your dog’s condition is serious or not, it can be great for you and your pup to have him checked by a medical professional to rule out existing problems, and prevent potential complications that may arise.
Can Dog’s Stomach Digest Aluminum Foil?
A dog’s stomach contains acid that is stronger than a human’s and might be able to digest a good amount of the foil. And even if your dog may not be able to fully digest the foil, it will most likely pass through his poop. You just have to observe his bowel movement and pay attention if he is defecating less frequently than usual.
Can Aluminum Foil Kill a Dog?
In most cases, aluminum foil is not fatal to dogs, especially when consumed in small amounts. However, if your dog ate a large amount along with food containing toxic ingredients, there’s a higher chance that your dog will be in serious danger, particularly from choking, intestinal obstruction, and food poisoning or toxicity.
Aluminum foil can cause serious problems to our canine companions. So, to prevent accidents from happening and potential complications from aluminum foil ingestion, it’s best that you keep food items that are wrapped in foil away from your pup.
You should place it somewhere your dog can’t reach. Remember that canines have an incredible sense of smell. Hence, “out of sight, out of mind,” doesn’t really apply to them. Additionally, you should also throw your aluminum foil in a pet-secure trash can to prevent your pup from sneaking inside the bin and eating the foil along with the food inside it.
If your dog regularly eats non-edible items, this may be indicative of a medical condition known as pica. In this case, you should contact your vet and ask for his expert advice regarding your dog’s condition.