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Help! My Dog Ate an Aluminum Can!

ball of used aluminum foil on dark wooden surface

It was a wonderful Thanksgiving. Your family enjoyed the feast you prepared and your dog enjoyed all the attention he got. After Thanksgiving Day dinner, the kitchen was cleaned spic and span, the garbage was put in plastic bags and you took your son to the airport to catch his flight back to University.

Happy and a bit tired, you open the door and find your three year old Labrador has had his own little party; with the garbage. After scolding him, you find some of the aluminum foil has been chewed or an aluminum can holding pumpkin pie mix has been chewed to bits and it appears as if a good deal may be missing. You panic, call a fellow dog owner and tell them, “My Dog Ate An Aluminum Can! What should I do?” Well, first of all, there may be no need to panic.

What To Do If Your Dog Eats Aluminum

If this has happened the first thing you need to do is determine how much aluminum foil or cans was eaten. Sometimes dogs will chew on something, find it interesting and take it somewhere else to give it the much needed chewing they think it deserves. Therefore, it is important that you go through every place your dog may have been to locate any of the aluminum they may have carted away. If your dog likes the couch, check in between the cushions. Check their beds. Leave nothing unturned.

Do your best to find all traces of aluminum foil and piece it together before deciding what to do. If you fear that they may have swallowed a lot of aluminum foil then please visit their vet.

If you are lucky, your pooch only swallowed a little, which means they’ll most likely pass it in a stool. So, for the next few days, check their stool for any traces or aluminum or bleeding. This may require waiting for the feces to dry a little, take some disposable chopsticks and breaking it apart.

What To Watch For If Your Dog Eats Aluminum

Variety of soda cans tops with tabs open

Besides checking their stools regularly, you may notice your dog not behaving normally. Here are some things to watch for.

  1. Abdominal bloating
  2. Diarrhea
  3. Blood in urine or feces
  4. Depression
  5. Excessive drooling
  6. Lethargy
  7. Loss of appetite and refusing to drink water
  8. Groaning or whimpering as if in pain
  9. Vomiting and unable to hold food down

If you notice any of these problems after eating aluminum foil or cans, take your dog to the veterinarian immediately. The vet will most likely do a blood test and take x-rays. If it is determined that your dog has eaten aluminum, he may prescribe a laxative. If the obstruction is too large, he might have surgically remove the aluminum from your dog’s body.

If your dog eats aluminum, you should always call your vet or the pet poison control line at: (888) 426-4435

There are some who would recommend feeding your dog bread or potatoes so that it clots up with the aluminum foil, which MIGHT soften the edges, but I don’t agree with that. It is best to take him into the veterinarian to make sure. Although it is rare for obstruction to occur, Reference.com says chances are much higher for smaller breeds.

What do you do if your dog ate a pencil? Check out our post My Dog Ate A Pencil to learn more.

Why Dogs Eat Aluminum Foil

Piece of grilled beef and vegetables in aluminum foil

Generally, dogs do not eat aluminum foil because of the taste or the smell. It doesn’t really have one. They are not careful eaters: lacking fingers and opposable thumbs, they have never been taught which is the salad fork and which is the desert spoon, nor do the care. They only are concerned with what is inside the aluminum foil so, if that gets in the way, then so be it.

There are some dogs who have been known to chew on aluminum or tin cans. I know. I know. Why would any dog want to chew on aluminum or tin cans? Two reason. One, I have already stated. It’s what’s inside it. The aluminum is kind of in the way. Since the smell is still there, it provides them with an incentive to continue trying to eat what they can smell.

Another reason is is known as Pica. According to ABC Radio Canberra . . .

The eating of substances that have no nutritional value is a disorder known as pica, and it is common among puppies and certain dog breeds such as labradors and dachshunds.

There are reasons for this behavior, e.g, boredom, loneliness, overactive adrenal glands, diabetes or simply because they are always hungry. To be on the safe side, you should check with your veterinarian to find out the reason.

The Dangers of Eating Aluminum Foil or Cans

plain aluminum can crushed and laying on its side on a white background

First of all, there is no danger of your dog digesting the aluminum into his bloodstream. So that part you do not need to worry about. However, there are other problems that can be just as bad.

Need I say more? Either one of those can be deadly for your your canine buddy. Rarely does it cause an obstruction of the digestive tract, but it does happen, especially with smaller breeds.

Chocolate

Dogs should never, ever eat chocolate. If your dog ate aluminum foil because there was chocolate in it, the aluminum may be the least of your reasons for visiting your dog’s veterinarian. Chocolate is toxic for dogs, so please take your dog to the vet immediately.

Bowel or intestinal obstruction

If your dog has eaten aluminum foil, it may have been chewed into a ball and that isn’t going to be digested or broken down into feces. Instead it will either come out in his feces or get lodged in the digestive tract. If it gets lodged, your dog will be unable to properly evacuate their bowels which will cause build up that can become toxic, which could be deadly.

Gum bleeding

If your dog has or seems to have eaten an aluminum can, check his gums for cuts, bleeding or scratches. Dogs have strong mouths but if they have chewed on an aluminum can, there might be some tell-tale signs of it.

Internal Bleeding

Depending on the shape or condition the aluminum foil was chewed up and swallowed, it could leave sharp edges that can cause cuts in your dog’s digestive tract causing internal bleeding. As with humans, this can be very deadly as well.

Summary

variety of aluminum cooking and storage trays on a counter top

In closing, please remember, it is important to locate as much of the aluminum as you can and you need to ascertain what they ate as well. Go about it in a calm and thorough manner and you may discover that your canine little buddy hasn’t digested any of the aluminum at all .

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