My Dog Ate Soap and Seems Fine – What Should I Do?

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Key Takeaways:

  • Most bar soaps don’t contain ingredients that are poisonous to dogs.
  • Large chunks of soap can cause choking or obstruction
  • If your dog eats soap, call your vet and follow his instructions

If you’ve ever tasted soap by accident, you may wonder how your beloved canine could ever ingest a bar of Ivory. But, dogs can eat just about anything. Should you be concerned if your beloved furbaby munches a bar of soap or licks up some liquid soap?

Although most bar soap that’s made today is not harmful to dogs, some specialty varieties are. So, if your pooch gobbles down a piece of your bath bar, you should contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline and follow their instructions. 

Let’s look at what happens when your dog eats some soap and when you should be concerned about it.

How Much Soap Is Toxic to Dogs?

It depends on the type of soap. If your dog ate a few small pieces of bar soap that’s free of lye or poisonous substances, you can relax a bit. The material may upset your pal’s tummy, but it shouldn’t be harmful. However, if your dog swallows a chunk or bar of soap, it could cause choking or an intestinal obstruction.

On the other hand, if Fido gulps down a bar that includes lye or another caustic substance, the chemicals may damage the esophagus or stomach lining and cause your pup some discomfort. Additionally, some boutique natural soaps contain certain essential oils like tea tree oil or pine oils that are toxic to dogs. 

The bottom line is that if your dog ate some soap, it’s a good idea to call your veterinarian, let him know what happened, and do what he tells you to do.

How much soap is unsafe or toxic for dogs will depend on the type of soap. Natural soaps are usually fairly safe, but some contain substances that can be harmful or poisonous to dogs. If your pooch eats some soap, it’s best to contact your veterinarian and follow his advice.

What Should I Do if My Dog Ate Soap?

If you walk into the bathroom and your pup is munching on a bar of soap, you should

  • Immediately remove any remaining pieces from his reach 
  • As long as Fido is agreeable, take out any soap that’s in his mouth
  • Rinse his mouth with some cool water
  • Check the throat for signs of any lodged pieces
  • Call your vet. Let the doctor know
    • the type of soap your pooch ate
    • approximately how much he got
    • any concerning ingredients such as essential oils
  • Follow your vet’s directions

Depending on the type and amount of soap, your dog’s doctor may recommend that you observe your pooch for any signs of trouble or bring him in for an exam and treatment.

When you see your dog eating soap, you should remove any pieces from his mouth and his surroundings. Then you can rinse his mouth with water, check for pieces of soap in the throat, and call your veterinarian. Report the incident to the doctor and follow his instructions.

What Should You Do Immediately If You Suspect Your Dog Has Eaten Soap?

If you find evidence that your dog ate some soap, the first thing you should do is remove any leftover pieces and check his mouth. If you can’t get the materials out of reach, flush them down the toilet. As long as your pooch won’t bite you, take out any chunks of soap in his mouth and check the throat area to make sure nothing is stuck in the back.

Once you have eliminated any remaining soap, contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline. Let them know the type and amount of soap your furbaby ingested. They will provide you with the next steps you should take to protect your pooch.

If you suspect that your dog ate soap, first take away any remaining materials from the area. If your dog will let you, check his mouth and remove any pieces of soap. Then you should call your vet or the Poison Helpline and follow their recommendations.

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

If your dog ate an entire bar of soap or a lot of pieces, try to determine how much he ingested. Let your vet know what brand of soap was involved and the approximate amount eaten. You should also tell the doctor if there are any special ingredients like essential oils in the bar. 

Unless there are ingredients that could be toxic to your pooch, your veterinarian may recommend that you observe your pup for signs of trouble. For the next few hours, watch for:

  • Excessive licking
  • Drooling
  • Pawing at the face
  • Frequent swallowing
  • Difficulty breathing

If you see any of these signs, you should take your pup to the clinic for an exam. 

You may also see some vomiting and diarrhea. But as long as it doesn’t continue for more than about a day, don’t panic. Dogs will commonly experience digestive upset after eating some soap.

If your dog ate a lot of soap, determine how much he ate and tell your vet. Unless the bar has dangerous ingredients, the doctor will probably tell you to observe your pooch for signs of trouble. If all your dog has is vomiting and diarrhea for a day or so, don’t panic.

Signs of Trouble After Eating Soap

If your pup encounters trouble after eating soap, the signs you notice will depend on the underlying cause. When you observe your pooch, you should watch for signs of choking, an obstruction in the digestive tract, or poisoning from essential oils.

Signs of choking

  • Excessive drooling
  • Pawing at the face
  • Retching 
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty breathing

Signs of an obstruction

  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Depression
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea at the beginning followed by constipation
  • Fever

Signs of toxicity from some essential oils

  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Irritated skin
  • Drooling
  • Loss of muscle control
  • Kidney or liver damage

When your dog eats soap, you should observe him for signs of trouble. The symptoms will depend on how the soap affects your pooch. Watch out for indications of choking, obstruction, or essential oil toxicity.

What Happens to Dogs When They Eat Soap?

When dogs eat soap, the pieces or bar may get stuck in the throat and cause your pooch to choke. If it makes it to the stomach, the ingredients can upset the stomach lining and trigger vomiting and diarrhea for a day or so. If there are caustic ingredients like lye in the soap, the product can also burn the esophagus or stomach lining causing heavy drooling and nausea. Once soap contacts the stomach, it may also lather. The bubbles add to your dog’s nausea and discomfort, so he may stop eating.

If a large chunk of soap survives the stomach and passes into the intestines, there’s a risk that it will lodge in the gut and cause an obstruction. This is an emergency situation that requires veterinary care. 

When a dog eats soap, the chunks can get stuck in the throat or the intestines and create an emergency. Otherwise, the soap may burn or irritate the esophagus or stomach lining causing vomiting and diarrhea. Soap can also develop suds and make your dog nauseous so he stops eating. 

Why Is Soap Dangerous For Dogs?

Although most soaps aren’t poisonous, they can still cause trouble for dogs. Larger chunks can get stuck in the throat or intestines and cause life-threatening emergencies. The ingredients in specialty soaps can also be harmful to your dogs. 

Even when soap doesn’t cause a life-threatening condition, it can irritate or burn tissues in the digestive tract. This causes considerable discomfort for your furbaby and often leads to vomiting and diarrhea.

Soap may not usually be poisonous, but it can still cause problems for your pooch. Large chunks can lodge in the throat or lower digestive tract. Or certain ingredients can damage tissues and trigger discomfort, vomiting, and diarrhea.

How Will My Vet Treat My Dog After Eating Soap?

When you take your dog to the vet after he eats soap, he’ll conduct a physical exam and ask you for details about the soap. If you have the label or packaging for the bath bar, bring it with you to the appointment.

Depending on the signs your vet observes, he may take an x-ray to see if there are any sizeable chunks in the digestive tract that could cause issues. Once he has a complete picture, your vet may keep your pooch at the clinic for observation. If there’s an obstruction, he will have to remove it surgically.

When you take your dog to the vet, the doctor will begin with a history and physical exam. Depending on the symptoms, he may take x-rays to identify any large chunks in the digestive tract. If the symptoms call for it, the doctor will hospitalize your pup for observation. 

How Long Will it Take for My Dog to Recover After Eating Soap?

The length of your dog’s recovery will depend on how the soap affected him. If your dog has mild digestive upset, he should be fine in a day or two. Dogs that choke on the soap will need a few days to a week to recover. Recovery from obstruction and surgery will take weeks to months. If essential oils cause kidney or liver damage, your dog’s condition will require ongoing medical management.

The length of the recovery period will depend on how the soap impacted your dog. Minor digestive upset will only take a few days to resolve. On the far end of the spectrum, recovery from obstructions requires weeks to months. If certain ingredients damage the kidney or liver, your dog will need lifelong treatment. 

The Final Woof

Soap is rarely poisonous to dogs, but it can cause issues. Larger pieces may trigger choking or obstruction. The chemicals in soap can also cause digestive tract irritation leading to vomiting and diarrhea. Some boutique bath bars include essential oils or other dangerous ingredients that could harm your pooch.

If your dog eats soap, you should watch for signs of trouble. The symptoms will depend on how the material affects your dog. When your dog requires veterinary care, the doctor will examine your pooch, may take an x-ray, and may keep your dog in the clinic for observation. Recovery time depends on your dog’s condition.

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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