My Dog Ate a Cotton Ball. What Should I Do?

Dogs often have a habit of eating whatever that they see in their line of vision! Be it legos or toilet paper, dog owners have hilarious stories of the time when their pet ate something entirely weird. However, no matter how funny it sounds, it can become a serious issue as dogs have sensitive stomachs.

Just like any other random item, your dog won’t spare cotton balls either. So, if you’re in a situation wherein your dog has eaten cotton balls, you need to take quick action. In this guide, we’ll help you know what to do if your dog ate a cotton ball. We’ve also come up with ideas to prevent your dog from eating cotton balls again. So, read on!


What Should You Do if Your Dog Eats a Cotton Ball?

If you find that your dog is eating a cotton ball, there are mainly 3 things that you need to do. These include:

1. Command Them To Remove The Cotton Ball

Whenever you see your dog eating a cotton ball, your first approach should be to command them.

For instance, you can say command words like “drop it” or “leave it” to make your dog remove the cotton ball from their mouth. If you have trained them properly, they’ll remove the cotton ball and won’t try to eat it again.

But, if your dog doesn’t understand the “leave it” command, you can try teaching it to them with a few tricks.

2. Try To Determine How Many Cotton Balls They Ate

If you find out later on that your dog has eaten cotton balls, the next best approach is to determine how many they ate.

If you had a packet of cotton balls, you could try counting to get an approximate idea. Now, if they ate a huge quantity of cotton balls, contact a vet as soon as possible.

Other than the quantity, try to determine the type of cotton balls your dog ate. There are typically two types:

  • Natural Cotton Balls: These are less risky.
  • Polyester Cotton Balls: These pose an increased risk, and you should contact your veterinarian.

3. Call Your Veterinarian Immediately

It’s not a good idea to diagnose your dog’s issue on your own. Instead, you need to call your veterinarian for some advice if your dog has eaten cotton balls.

Typically, if your dog ate fewer cotton balls, there won’t be any huge issue. On the other hand, if the quantity was more, you may have to visit the vet clinic for a thorough examination.

4. Look Out For Possible Symptoms

If your dog ate several cotton balls, it might lead to intestinal blockage. In such a situation, the dog won’t pass the cotton balls in their stools. Hence, they might feel uncomfortable.

After your dog has ingested any foreign object, like a cotton ball, look for possible symptoms like:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughing
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Lack of appetite

If you notice any of the above symptoms, your dog might have intestinal blockage. So, you need to take them to a veterinarian for a thorough examination immediately.

What Happens if a Dog Eats a Cotton Ball?

If your dog ate cotton balls, then there are two possible outcomes. Let’s have a look at them:

1. No Symptoms Or Discomfort 

In this scenario, your dog may not feel any discomfort or symptoms. Usually, this happens when your dog has ingested natural cotton balls.

Natural cotton balls don’t pose a massive threat to dogs. In fact, your dog’s intestinal juices are enough to break down cotton balls and avoid any health-related issues.

Another thing to note is that many pet owners suggest giving your dog natural cotton balls if they’ve eaten anything sharp. The cotton balls protect the dog’s intestine from internal wounds or bleeding by covering the sharp objects.

However, note that you shouldn’t feed natural cotton balls to your dog without consulting a vet.

2. Presence of Discomfort

Your dog may feel extreme discomfort if they have ingested polyester-cotton balls. It is because polyester is hard to break down and may obstruct your dog’s intestines. Moreover, it’s also possible if your dog has ingested too many natural cotton balls.

In this scenario, there’s a risk of gastrointestinal blockage.

Gastrointestinal blockage takes place when inedible foreign objects get stuck or accumulate in your dog’s intestines.

Now, in some cases, the blockage goes away by itself. But, in other cases, it may cause serious complications. So, you should always check for symptoms like:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Abnormal behavior
  • Lethargy
  • Continuous whining or barking
  • Lack of appetite
  • Stomach swelling
  • Pale gums
  • Resting in weird positions
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weakness

If you find that your dog has the above symptoms, they might require additional medical help. In such cases, veterinarians may try to induce vomiting if it has only been two hours since your dog ingested cotton balls.

However, if it has been more than two hours, your veterinarian may conduct endoscopy or actual surgery, depending on the severity.

Can a Dog Digest Cotton?

In most cases, dogs can digest cotton. But, you always need to take care of two things – the type of cotton and quantity.

Natural cotton is easier to break down and digest. So, it doesn’t cause health risks usually. Contrarily, polyester-cotton doesn’t break down in your dog’s body as quickly as natural cotton and may cause increased health risks.

Similarly, dogs can digest cotton if it’s in lesser quantities. But, if they have eaten a lot of cottons, the digestion may slow down and cause gastrointestinal blockage.

How to Prevent Your Dog From Eating Cotton Balls?

After eating cotton balls, your dog may not face any issues. Still, there are high chances that they may ingest cotton balls and land themselves in huge trouble!

So, instead of letting this go, try following the below-mentioned tips to prevent your dog from eating cotton balls:

1. Keep Things Away From Your Dog’s Reach

This may sound hard, but you need to make sure that, be it cotton balls or any other foreign object, you hide them well.

You can try storing any items in high cabinets where your dog cannot reach. Or, you can also keep the cotton balls in rooms that are inaccessible for the dog.

Also, whenever you see cotton balls lying on the floor, pick them up immediately. Make sure that the floor is devoid of any foreign objects.

2. Discard Cotton Balls After Using Them

Many times we forget to discard cotton balls. Instead, we throw them on the floor or forget them right where we used them.  Now, this gives your dog a free pass to eat them!

So, after using cotton balls, develop a habit of discarding them in the dustbin immediately. Remember that a bit of laziness can cause danger to your dog!

3. Pet-Proof Your Dustbin

Dogs are brilliant animals. Hence, even if you discard the cotton balls in your dustbin, they’ll find them and eat them. So, you need to become extra cautious and pet-proof your dustbin.

Given below are some quick tips to pet-proof your dustbin:

  • Choose a dustbin with a heavy lid instead of a plastic one.
  • Keep the dustbin in inaccessible locations such as below the sink, closet, or on a stool.
  • Try using child safety locks on dustbins.
  • Put a heavy weight on your dustbins, such as a box or book, so your dog won’t be able to topple them.

There are several pet-proof dustbins available in the market too. So, you can try investing in them.

4. Give Your Dog Enough Food

Most dogs eat foreign objects, such as cotton balls, when they’re hungry. Hence, you should always ensure that you offer them the proper amount of food.

Depending on their weight, you need to provide them with adequate food. The table below might be able to help you out:

Adult Dog Size (In lbs)Amount of Dry Food (In Cups)
3-12   ⅓ to 1 cups
13-20 1 to ⅓ cups
21-35 1-⅓  to 2 cups
26-50 2 to 2-⅔ cups
51-75 2-⅔  to 3-⅓ cups
76-100           3-⅓ to 4-¼  cups
100 or more4-¼  cups   Note: Add 1/4 cup for every 10 lbs of body weight above 100 lbs
Comparison of dog size vs dog food

If you’re feeding your dog less than this, you may want to consult a vet and increase their food quantity.

My Dog Ate a Cotton Ball With Nail Polish Remover: What To Do?

If your dog ate a cotton ball with nail polish remover, you need to look for the quantity ingested.

Now, if there was very little nail polish remover, it may have evaporated already. So, your furry friend is out of danger!

Conversely, if the cotton ball was drenched with nail polish remover, you need to look for the symptoms mentioned above. If your dog shows any of them, contact a veterinarian immediately.

Can Dogs Eat Cotton Balls?

Dogs can eat natural cotton balls in minimal quantities. It’s because these cotton balls can easily break down and digest in your dog’s body.

On the other hand, polyester-cotton balls are quite risky and hard to digest, due to which they may cause intestinal obstruction.

It’s also imperative to note that dogs shouldn’t ingest cotton balls, natural or polyester, in larger quantities. So, try to prevent your dog from doing so by keeping cotton balls in a safe place, discarding them properly, and pet-proofing your dustbin.

Disclaimer: This blog should not be considered as being professional pet medical advice. The content published on this blog is for informational purposes only. Please always consult with a licensed and local veterinarian for medical advice.

About Shaun Clarke

Shaun is passionate about pets and animals, especially dogs, cats, and rabbits. He owns a dog and a couple of cats too. He loves visiting wildlife sanctuaries and shares a strong bond with animals. When he is not writing, he loves to do a barbecue in the backyard with his family and friends.

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