Since the start of the pandemic a couple of years ago, everyone has become much more aware of our need to keep things hygienic.
And what better way to do this than by using disinfectant wipes?
One quick wipe on a work surface, door handle or an object and we have an instant peace of mind knowing that any bacteria or virus would have been killed instantly.
But what happens if a dog finds a stray used wipe on a table and decides to snack on it?
We know that these wipes are bad news for germs but how dangerous are they for our dogs?
To start answering this question, I want to find out a bit more about Clorox wipes.
What are Clorox Wipes?
Clorox is an American company that started making bleach in 1913- back when very few of us had heard of bleach.
Clorox wipes are individual pieces of cloth that promise to clean, disinfect, deodorise and remove allergens. They also promise to kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria.
And available, as they are in two flavours (fresh scent and crisp lemon, these wipes also promise to leave a pleasant scent behind.
And what is interesting for a company who almost invented bleach, these wipes are bleach free.
But how safe are they for your dog to eat?
To begin to answer this rather strange question, I’m going to start by looking at what the ingredients are in a wipe.
What are the ingredients in a Clorox wipe?
There are two main groups of ingredients in a Clorox wipe.
Firstly are the chemicals that are impregnated within the cloth.
And secondly are the ingredients that make the cloth.
There are four active chemicals in Clorox wipes.
There are two types of n- Alkyl and two types of ammonium chlorides.
As these ingredients are all chemicals, which makes it a bit dry and scary to try and describe but I will do my best below.
The n- Alkyls are used because they will kill bacteria.
The two ammonium chlorides are used because they are disinfectants.
The cloth is made of polyester which is non biodegradable because it is a by-product of petroleum.
Are the ingredients in Clorox wipes poisonous to dogs?
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that all of the chemicals in the wipes are highly toxic to dogs.
But not in the minute quantities that are used in one wipe.
The total amount of the active chemicals used are less than .04% of the total ingredients.
And so if your dog ate one wipe, it is highly unlikely that your dog will be poisoned.
Another piece of good news is that neither is polyester poisonous to your dog.
But the danger from the wipe comes from the fact that it might cause a blockage somewhere in the dog’s digestive system.
If it doesn’t cause a blockage somewhere then it won’t be digested and it will just appear a few days later in the dog’s stool.
What should I do if my dog swallows Clorox wipes?
If your dog eats or swallows one or more Clorox wipes then you need to have your vet’s phone number close at hand and watch your dog like a hawk.
The degree of danger that is facing your dog will depend on the size of your dog and the number of wipes that they have eaten.
Small dogs and a dog that has eaten more than one wipe are those that are most at risk.
The first danger sign that you are on the look out for is that the wipe has got stuck in your dog’s throat.
What are the signs that your dog is choking?
How do I know if my dog is choking on a Clorox wipe?
I think that most of us know what the signs of choking are because most of us have had some experience of it.
Either as some kind of candy went down the wrong way or we accidentally swallowed a chicken bone or fruit pit.
And the classic choking symptom for dogs is the same- that horrible rasping sound, gagging and retching
Other symptoms that you will be watching for in your dog include rubbing their face on the ground.
Hopefully if you see any of these symptoms they will be short lived and they will end with a wipe being spat out and a dog who is looking very sorry for themselves.
If your dog continues to show signs of distress then you must act very quickly.
The most important thing that you can do is to take your dog to the closest vet immediately.
If, as we hope, your dog shows no signs of choking then the danger isn’t over yet.
What are the signs of an intestinal blockage?
So your dog has dodged a bullet as far as the wipe getting stuck in their throat but there are plenty of other places for a wipe to get stuck within a dog’s body.
And in this section I will look at the signs of an intestinal or bowel blockage.
If your dog suffers from a blockage in their digestive tract, signs of this may appear hours or even a few days after the incident.
Unfortunately, there are many signs of a blockage.
Which are much the same as symptoms for other health issues with your dog.
Which is why it is important to know for a fact that your dog ate a Clorox wipe.
And the most important symptoms of an intestinal blockage are things like loss of appetite, vomiting and straining to poop.
And all of this heartache and stress begs another obvious question, which I will answer in the next section.
Why might dogs eat Clorox wipes?
You might ask yourself why any self respecting dog would stoop low enough to want to eat a wipe.
I mean it isn’t even food is it?
Well it is possible that the wipe that the dog ate was covered in food or was fragrant with the scent of food.
But even so, to eat a wipe seems to be a bit desperate doesn’t it?
Which it is.
But I think that it is more common than we would like to think.
There is a medical condition given to dogs who eat items that aren’t food.
And the condition is called pica.
No one knows how common pica is in dogs and it has a variety of causes.
For most dogs the biggest cause is behaviour.
Which means that they eat non food items because they are bored or stressed.
A minority of dogs do it because of an underlying medical condition such as malnutrition or a liver disease.
The way to cure pica is to find out what is causing it and then to stopor to treat this “trigger.”
In the next section, I want to look at a recent development in the world of wipes and whether this might be a blessing in disguise for any wipe eating dog out there.
Are Clorox compostable wipes less dangerous to dogs?
Wipes are incredibly convenient but one of the very large downsides of them is that standard wipes aren’t biodegradable or compostable.
Once used they need to be chucked in the bin where they will end up in landfill for thousands of years.
And in an age where most of us are looking to be more environmentally friendly, this just doesn’t make any sense.
Enter compostable wipes.
These wipes differ from standard wipes because instead of the cloth being made from polyester they are made of plant based material such as cotton or bamboo.
They are compostable and biodegradable too.
I can’t find out which specific plant based materials are used by Clorox.
Which is great for the planet but what does it mean for our wipe loving dogs?
I’m not sure it changes anything as far as dogs are concerned.
Although dog’s stomachs are famously very acidic, I’m not sure that they will be able to digest a plant based cloth.
I mean a compostable wipe might have been digested a bit more than a standard wipe but not by much I wouldn’t think.
So is there such a thing as a pet friendly wipe?
Let’s find out shall we.
What are the most pet friendly wipes?
I didn’t realise that pet wipes existed.
These are wipes that you use to clean your dog in the same way that you would use wet wipes to clean a baby or toddler.
How funny is that?
But these wipes aren’t pet friendly because they are digestible if they get eaten.
And so if you are looking for a wipe that won’t harm your dog if it chooses to eat it, then you might be looking to go “old school”.
And use a bit of kitchen towel and dish soap.
Kitchen towel is less likely to choke your dog or cause a blockage because it is more likely to dissolve as it passes through your dog’s system.
And most dish soaps will kill over 99% germs, meaning that it can be used to effectively clear up any mess and kill all viruses and bacteria.
And as long as your dog doesn’t eat a whole bottle of it, the ingredients used in dish soap (in the quantities that they are used in) won’t harm your dog.
Clorox photo by Kurman Communications on Flickr