Dogs are wonderful companions, but sometimes they can get into trouble by eating things they shouldn’t. One of the most common items that dogs may ingest is a pee pad, which is used to train puppies or help older dogs with incontinence. But what should you do if your dog eats a pee pad? Is it dangerous? How can you prevent it from happening again?
In this article, we will answer these questions and more. We will explain what pee pads are made of, why dogs may eat them, what are the possible consequences, and how to stop your dog from eating their pee pads. By the end of this article, you will know what to do if your dog eats a pee pad and how to keep them safe and healthy.
Why Dogs Eat Pee Pads
Before learning how to stop the behavior, it helps to understand why your dog is eating pee pads in the first place. Here are some common reasons behind this undesirable habit:
Dogs explore the world with their mouths. If something looks, smells, or feels interesting, they’ll want to get a “taste.” Used pee pads likely have an intriguing odor that attracts your dog’s curiosity. This is especially true for younger dogs and puppies.
They Like the Texture
Some dogs simply enjoy chewing or tearing paper products. The material disposable pee pads are made from is soft and shreds easily. Your dog may find this texture satisfying.
They’re Still Teething
Puppies teethe until they’re about 6 months old. This is a very mouthy stage, where they chew on everything to relieve sore gums. The soft, shreddable texture of pee pads is extra appealing during teething.
While certainly unappealing to humans, used pee pads may smell like food to some dogs. This is true if you use pee pads with attractant. The scented chemicals mimic your dog’s urine and can contain food-based substances like beef extract.
They’re Anxious or Bored
Some dogs chew and ingest non-food items as a self-soothing behavior. If your dog eats pee pads when left alone, anxiety could be a factor. Boredom may also motivate your dog to get into mischief like snacking on pads.
In rare cases, an underlying health problem like malnutrition, diabetes, or Cushing’s disease causes dogs to eat non-food items. It’s worth mentioning any unusual eating behaviors at your dog’s next vet visit.
Now that you know why your dog is eating pee pads, it’s time to curb the behavior. The right approach depends on identifying the primary cause.
What to Do If Your Dog Eats a Pee Pad
First, take a deep breath. The situation may be gross but try not to overreact in front of your dog. If you discover a partially eaten pee pad, calmly take it away and thoroughly clean the area. Don’t punish or scold your dog after the fact. They won’t connect discipline with eating the pad.
Here are the steps to take based on different scenarios:
Your Dog Ate the Whole Pee Pad
Hopefully, you caught your dog in the act of eating the pad. If so, distract them with a chew toy and redirect their chewing urge. If your dog already swallowed the pad, monitor them closely for signs of illness.
Pad ingestion can cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain. Call your vet if symptoms last more than 24 hours. They may recommend bringing your dog in or giving over-the-counter stomach medications.
Make sure your dog stays hydrated by encouraging them to drink water. Try adding low-sodium chicken broth to boost flavor.
Feed bland foods like boiled chicken and rice for a few days until stools return to normal. Avoid dairy, fatty foods, sugary treats, raw meats, and bones during this time.
Your Dog Chewed But Didn’t Eat the Pad
Pick up and dispose of damaged pads so your dog can’t return to finish them off. Clean the peed-on area thoroughly with an enzyme cleaner formulated to eliminate pet odors. This helps prevent your dog from smelling traces of urine that may entice them to chew in the same spot.
Redirect your dog’s chewing to more appropriate objects like rubber chew toys. Use praise and treats to reinforce chewing on acceptable items instead of pee pads. You can also smear a little peanut butter inside chew toys to make them more engaging.
If your dog seems to enjoy shredding, provide toys like a stuffed Kong that they can tear apart. Just be sure to remove pieces as they break off to prevent choking hazards.
Your Dog Eats Pee Pads Frequently
For repeat offenders, you’ll need to start actively monitoring potty time. Stay with your dog whenever they’re in the room with access to pee pads. When you notice them about to nibble, interrupt with a firm “No” or distraction technique.
When your dog goes potty on the pad like they should, be prepared to reward them immediately with praise and a high-value treat like real meat. This positive reinforcement helps reinforce where your dog should eliminate.
Use a bitter taste deterrent spray on pee pads or consider switching to real grass pads or an artificial turf system. These alternatives don’t have the same papery texture and absorbent chemicals that attract dogs to disposable pads.
Preventing Dogs from Eating Pee Pads
Stopping your dog from eating pee pads requires diligence. With consistent training and adjustments, you can break this habit. Here are tips to keep your dog from treating pee pads like snacks.
Choose Better Tasting Pee Pads
Switching to a different style pad may stop the behavior if your dog was attracted to the scent chemicals. Look for:
- Unscented pads without attractants or masking agents.
- Real grass pads instead of synthetic fibers.
- Pee pads containing natural potty training scents like herbal extracts instead of food-based attractants.
- Plastic tray pads or artificial grass trays that don’t resemble soft, shreddable paper.
Use Remote Reward Systems
With remote reward pads, you don’t have to be in the room when your dog eliminates. The pad senses when your dog pees and immediately dispenses a tasty treat. This associate going potty in the right spot with something good happening.
There are different options like reward pads, fake grass with treat dispensers, and even automated indoor potties. Just be sure your dog can’t access and destroy the treat holder!
Give Plenty of Potty-Approved Chew Toys
Dogs tend to chew most in spots they frequented for elimination. Make sure your dog has an abundant choice of tough, engaging chew toys in the potty area. Rotating toys helps keep things interesting.
Stuff hollow rubber toys with peanut butter or low-sodium broth, then freeze. The cold numbs gums provide teething relief while keeping your dog occupied.
Use an Enzyme Cleaner
Dog urine contains pheromones that signal “this is the potty place” to your dog. Using an enzyme cleaner eliminates these odors so your dog is less compelled to pee (or eat pee pads) in the same area.
Enzyme cleaners break down urine compounds instead of just masking smells. Use them anytime your dog has an accident to prevent repeat incidents.
If your dog keeps destroying pads, limit access to the potty area when you can’t supervise. Use baby gates or an exercise pen to keep them out. Alternatively, you can shut doors or move potty trays/fake grass to higher locations like washers when not in use. Just be sure to return access and positively reinforce potty time.
Increase Exercise and Playtime
Dogs are more apt to get into mischief like eating pee pads when bored or having excess energy. Make sure your dog gets adequate exercise and playtime to burn off steam. Fun games and toys that challenge their brain are especially tiring.
Consider hiring a dog walker if you can’t provide mid-day activity. Also, be sure to give your dog companionship and cuddles. Pent-up energy and anxiety contribute to undesirable behaviors.
Correct Other Chewing/Ingesting Behaviors
If your dog exhibits additional inappropriate chewing habits (like eating shoes or furniture), address these issues simultaneously. Work with a certified dog trainer if needed to implement correction and redirection techniques.
Also, exclude medical causes. Some obsessive chewing results from health problems causing pain, nutrient deficiencies, or abnormal cravings.
Be Patient and Consistent
Change takes time, especially reversing habitual behaviors. Stick with training tactics for at least 2-3 weeks before trying new methods. Avoid yelling or punishment as this causes more anxiety.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Whenever you catch your dog eliminating on the pee pad, immediately reward them with enthusiastic praise and a high-value treat. This reinforces that this is the correct spot to go potty.
Continue rewarding potty habits for at least a month. Remember to stay positive and never discipline accidents. Your dog will learn faster with a kind, patient approach.
Consider Crate Training
When you can’t watch them, keeping your dog crated prevents access to pee pads. This is especially helpful for dogs under one year old. Make sure the crate is the right size – just big enough for them to stand, turn around, and lie down.
Take your dog outside to potty right before crating and as soon as you return. Only keep them crated for 2-4 hours max, providing toys to prevent boredom. Never use the crate solely for punishment.
Ask Your Vet About Deterrent Sprays
Some bitter taste deterrent sprays are safe and effective for discouraging chewing behaviors. Ask your vet if they recommend trying one on pee pads. Reapply these sprays anytime you place new pads.
Be aware, you must wash hands after handling treated pads to prevent transferring the bitter taste to food or other items your dog might ingest. Also, supervise use to ensure your dog doesn’t have an unexpected negative reaction.
When to Call the Vet After Eating a Pad
In most cases, eating a pee pad causes minor stomach upset at worst. Still, it’s important to monitor your dog closely after an incident. Contact your vet if you notice:
- Repeated vomiting
- Diarrhea lasting over 48 hours
- Lethargy or depression
- Loss of appetite beyond a meal
- Signs of abdominal pain like whining or stretching
- Obvious wound from swallowing a sharp object
- No bowel movement for over 2 days, possible blockage
For the best outcome, try to keep a sample of the chewed pad. This helps identify any toxic chemicals your dog may have ingested.
Certain dogs are at higher risk of developing serious complications, including:
- Puppies under 6 months. Their immune systems aren’t fully developed.
- Small dog breeds. The pad takes up more room in their digestive tract.
- Dogs with inflammatory bowel disease or other gastrointestinal conditions. Their digestive systems are compromised.
Never hesitate to call the vet or emergency clinic if your dog shows concerning symptoms after eating a pee pad. They can provide the proper treatment plan to protect your dog’s health.
My Dog Keeps Eating Pee Pads! When to Seek Help.
If you’ve tried all the training tips and your dog persists in pee pad nibbling, it may be time to seek professional help. A certified dog trainer or veterinary behaviorist can assess your unique situation and offer tailored advice to break the habit.
Signs it’s time to get professional assistance with pee pad chewing include:
- You’ve been consistently training for over a month with no improvement.
- Your dog becomes protective or destructive with their pee pads.
- The behavior happens alongside other anxiety issues like aggression or separation anxiety.
- Your dog ingests large sections of the pad or shows signs of intestinal blockage.
- You’re unable to properly monitor your dog’s potty time.
- Chewing and ingesting inappropriate objects is an ongoing struggle.
Working one-on-one with an expert can uncover the specific triggers for your dog’s chewing compulsion. Be ready to answer questions about timing, settings, potential stressors, and your pup’s daily routine.
Don’t lose hope! The right guidance can resolve even the most persistent pee pad chewing issues. Your dog may also benefit from prescription anti-anxiety medications in extreme cases.
Frequently Asked Questions: My Dog Ate a Pee Pad
How long until a pee pad passes through a dog?
Depending on size, a swallowed pee pad usually passes within 12-48 hours. Small shreds may transit faster. Contact your vet if you don’t see the item in your dog’s stool within 2 days.
Do dogs outgrow eating pee pads?
As long as the behavior is managed, most dogs stop nibbling on pee pads as they mature past the teething stage. Consistent training and removing access help end the habit. Some dogs require anti-anxiety medication if anxiety is the root cause.
How do I find pee pads my dog won’t eat?
Try switching to potty pads without food-based attractants, synthetic grass trays, or real sod pads. Monitoring your dog and using bitter deterrent sprays also helps curtail pee pad chewing.
Dogs eat pee pads for many reasons – curiosity, boredom, texture, or smell. While gross, ingesting small amounts generally causes minor stomach upset at worst. However, you do need to take action to curb the behavior.
Try switching pad materials, scattering toys about, closely supervising potty time, and consistently rewarding desired behaviors. Work on addressing any underlying causes like anxiety. Some pups may need medication if obsessive pee pad chewing continues despite training.
Stay calm if you catch your dog nibbling a pad. Monitor them, provide bland foods and ample hydration, and call your vet if concerning symptoms arise. With diligence and patience, you can resolve even the most stubborn pee pad chewing habits!