Dogs Dining on Diapers Can Be Disastrous

Pregnant woman with pet dogDogs eat some of the strangest things. You’d expect their superior sense of smell to turn them away from some of the stinkiest things in the yard or the house but that’s just not the case. They seem to crave snacks that smell the worst.

One Colorado family recently discovered their dog’s taste for baby diapers but by the time they discovered this new doggie delicacy, it was too late. They shared their story with their local TV station to spread a word of caution to dog owners who have babies in the house.

Treva Butterworth said Ginger was a good dog: “mellow” and “didn’t make messes in the house.” The other dog, Rosie, “is our chewer.” Ginger had been a lively, healthy dog until suddenly one night.

Butterworth’s niece and the niece’s baby had recently moved in with Butterworth. It was no surprise they’d bring diapers along with them; with babies come diapers. No one thought twice about how either of Butterworth’s dogs might respond to the diapers.

The first indication of a problem was when Ginger didn’t join Butterworth outside one evening, as she usually did. Ginger went inside to bed instead.

The next morning, Butterworth discovered Ginger in the bathroom, dead.

As the family buried the dog, they noticed remnants of a substance they thought was insulation but didn’t know where it came from. In an effort to find out what had killed her dog and what the mysterious substance was laying around her house, Butterworth looked under her bed. There she found bits and pieces of a chewed-up diaper in a spot where the dog had vomited it up.

The search turned into a scientific investigation when Butterworth cut a piece from an unused diaper, put it in a cup, and added water. The absorbent layers of the diaper expanded dramatically. Butterworth thought this must be what killed Ginger.

A TV reporter took Butterworth’s story to a local veterinarian, Kevin Lisenbee. Lisenbee, who did not treat Ginger, said the absorbent lining of diapers can be as dangerous to infants and children as they are to dogs. When the absorbent material is swallowed, it absorbs moisture from the body and expands. If expansion is great enough, it can cause rupture of internal organs or obstruct the digestive tract.

The 11 News investigative team conducted tests on several top brand-name diapers and found similar rates of expansion for all of them. What makes them good diapers makes them a health hazard when any of the absorbent materials is eaten.

A warning label on the packaging for the diapers in the Butterworth household included a warning that the plastic package itself could be a choking hazard but no mention was made of the dangers of the diapers themselves.

Sources:

  1. Kreutter, Danielle. "11 CFA Investigation: Diapers Can Be Deadly For Pets." 11 News. KKTV, 25 Feb. 2015. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.
  2. "Household Hazards Hunt." Pesky Pests and Household Hazards. EPA / Environmental Protection Agency, n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2015.