My Dog Ate Period Blood. Will he be okay?

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  • When a dog eats period blood, it usually causes vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Ingestion of large volumes of blood may result in iron toxicity.
  • Dogs can’t eliminate excess iron from the body, and the high levels in the blood can be deadly.

When I was younger, my family had a dog that would raid the trash can whenever I had my period. She would tear apart the menstrual pads and eat the blood. Yuk!

In this article, we’ll examine how period blood affects your dog and what to do if he eats some. We’ll talk about when you need to be concerned and how your vet can help.  

Is Period Blood Harmful or Toxic to Dogs?

Usually, period blood won’t harm your dog if she eats it. But there are a few exceptions. If you have an infection or disease that passes through your blood, your pooch may get sick. Even when dogs ingest blood from healthy people, they can experience some digestive upset with vomiting and diarrhea because menstrual blood is iron-rich.

On rare occasions, a dog who ingests a large amount of period blood may suffer from iron toxicity. Canine systems can’t excrete excess iron from the body, so it builds up. When this happens, extra iron seeps into the bloodstream and can damage the gastrointestinal lining, liver, and heart. 

If your dog eats a tampon or menstrual pad that has period blood, there are other concerns. The absorptive materials can cause choking or obstruction. If you have any concerns about your dog eating period blood or menstrual products, contact your veterinarian.

Period blood isn’t usually harmful to dogs, but there are some exceptions. Pups may pick up disease if the blood is infected. Rarely, pooches that ingest large amounts of period blood can suffer from iron toxicity. If your dog eats a tampon or menstrual pad, it can cause choking or obstruction.

What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Period Blood?

If your dog ate period blood, remove any remaining blood, shredded pad, or tampon from the area. Check your pup’s mouth for signs of a foreign body in the mouth or throat. Wash your hands with soap and water and wipe any blood off of your pup’s mouth and body. Observe your pooch for signs of choking or distress. For the next few days, check your dog’s feces for signs that any menstrual products passed through the digestive tract safely. If you have any concerns, call your veterinarian.

There are also some things you can do to prevent your pooch from eating period blood in the future.

  • Use a trash can with a secure lid for menstrual products
  • Redirect your dog’s attention when they’re interested in period blood
  • Teach your pooch to “leave it”

If your dog consumed period blood or menstrual products, remove access to any remaining blood or pieces of tampons/pads. Check your dog’s mouth then wash your hands. Observe your dog for signs of trouble and monitor his feces for a few days. Take precautions to prevent the behavior in the future.

What You Should Do Immediately If You Suspect Your Dog Has Eaten Period Blood

If you discover evidence that your dog has ingested period blood, the first thing to do is remove any remaining menstrual products or other sources of the blood from your pup’s access. Although eating some period blood probably won’t be a problem, it’s best to prevent your pooch from consuming more.  

Next, you should check your dog’s mouth to see if there are any items stuck in the throat. If you find remains of a pad or tampon, contact your veterinarian. The absorptive materials can lodge in the throat,  irritate the gut, or cause obstruction. 

The first thing you should do if you suspect your dog has eaten period blood is to prevent your pooch from eating more. Once you remove the source of the blood, check your dog’s mouth. If you see any pieces of menstrual products in the throat, call your veterinarian.

What if My Dog Ate a Lot of Period Blood But Is Acting Normal?

If your pooch ingests a large volume of period blood but seems normal, you should observe your pup closely for signs of trouble. The iron-rich nature of menstrual blood cells can irritate the digestive tract and cause vomiting or diarrhea in a matter of hours. Signs of iron toxicity may not appear for up to six hours. Contact your veterinarian if you notice symptoms like sleepiness and bloody diarrhea.

Dogs that consume menstrual products because they contain blood may also suffer medical emergencies. Pads and tampons are made from absorptive materials that expand when they suck up body fluids. These items may lodge in the intestines and cause blockage. Symptoms may not surface for a day or more. If you notice any concerning signs such as lethargy, restlessness, or abdominal tenderness, contact your veterinarian.

If your pooch ingests a ton of period blood, observe him for signs of problems. Dogs may get iron toxicity if they consume too many red blood cells. And if your pup ingests menstrual products, the absorptive material can cause choking or obstruction. Call your vet if you notice any concerning symptoms.

Signs of Iron Toxicity

Even though iron is an essential nutrient, too much of the mineral in canine blood can be lethal. The signs of iron toxicity occur in stages. 

In the first 6 hours(stage I), you may notice:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Depression

Between 6 and 24 hours(stage II), your dog will appear to recover from the earlier symptoms. Don’t be deceived. Stage III starts within 12-86 hours. The symptoms from stage I reappear along with tremors, shock, and possibly coma. If dogs survive stage III, dogs can develop gastrointestinal stricture and obstruction in stage IV in 2-6 weeks.

There are 3 stages of iron toxicity. Early symptoms include signs of gastrointestinal distress. After that, there’s an asymptomatic period that looks like recovery. Then the symptoms return along with shock and possible coma. Finally, in 2-6 weeks, dogs can develop strictures and obstruction in the gastrointestinal system.

What Happens to Dogs When They Eat Period Blood?

When dogs eat period blood, the iron in the cells can cause irritation to the gastrointestinal lining. This triggers diarrhea and vomiting. 

Because canine bodies don’t eliminate excess iron, the mineral can accumulate in your dog’s blood if he habitually eats period blood. Extra iron in the blood is corrosive to cells. It can damage the gut lining or cause perforations. When the excess mineral reaches the heart and liver, it causes damage to the organs.  

When dogs eat period blood, the iron irritates the gut lining. With habitual consumption, canine bodies may accumulate toxic levels of iron. Excess minerals in the blood are corrosive and damage cells in the gastrointestinal lining and other body organs.

Why Is Iron Toxic to Dogs?

Canine bodies can’t eliminate unneeded iron from the body. When it builds up to excess levels, the minerals can be deadly. Excess iron in the body isn’t bound to protein, so it is highly reactive and corrosive. The free mineral damages epithelial cells by causing oxidative change. As a result, the gastrointestinal lining ulcerates. 

Excess iron in the blood isn’t bound to protein. The free mineral is highly reactive and causes oxidative damage to cells in the gastrointestinal lining. 

How Will My Vet Treat Iron Poisoning?

If your dog suffers from iron poisoning, your veterinarian will 

  • Administer high volumes of IV fluids to flush the system
  • Induce vomiting or pump saline into the stomach to remove any unabsorbed iron
  • Provide oxygen therapy 
  • Administer a drug that will bind the iron and allow it to be excreted in the urine

The vet will hospitalize and observe your dog for at least 24 hours. During this time, he’ll monitor kidney and liver function.

When you bring your pooch to the vet for iron toxicity, he’ll provide IV fluids, oxygen therapy, and induce vomiting. He will also give your pup a drug to bind and eliminate the iron. Your pooch will be hospitalized for about 24 hours for observation and monitoring. 

How Long Will it Take for My Dog to Recover from X Poisoning?

Your dog’s prognosis is good with early treatment and no symptoms. Once signs appear, the prognosis becomes guarded. After treatment, your vet will have to monitor your pup’s blood enzymes for liver function for a few months. You should also observe your furbaby closely for the next few months in case strictures and obstruction develop. 

If you seek immediate treatment for your pooch, the prognosis is good. As soon as symptoms manifest, the prognosis becomes guarded. With successful treatment, you should still monitor your dog for the next few months to ensure there’s no liver damage or intestinal strictures. 

The Final Woof

Most of the time dogs that eat period blood will only suffer mild digestive upset with some vomiting and diarrhea. But if they ingest menstrual products or copious quantities of blood, there may be more serious consequences. Pads and tampons may cause choking or obstruction. Eating large quantities of blood may result in iron toxicity.

Canines cannot eliminate excess iron from the blood. When extra minerals circulate, it’s not bound by protein, and the iron is highly reactive and corrosive. It causes oxidative damage to cells resulting in damage to epithelial cells in the gastrointestinal tract and other body organs. With early treatment, the prognosis is good, but recovery may take a few months.

Photo of author
Dr. Libby Guise earned her DVM from the University of Minnesota in 1994. After working in private practice in Wisconsin for two years, she joined the USDA as a Veterinary Medical Officer. In 2011, Libby came home to focus on raising and teaching her adoptive daughter. She lives in Wisconsin with her daughter, husband, and two furbabies: Charis, a lab-mix rescue pup, and Chesed, a Springer Spaniel.

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