You didn’t see that coming, did you? Well, maybe you should have because dogs are very inquisitive by nature and there’s really no telling why the Aquaphor tub you left on the table caught his attention.
The good news is your pet will probably be just fine, except for the oily diarrhea which, sadly, you will have to clean up over the next couple of days.
To put your mind at ease, let’s see what exactly is Aquaphor and why do some dogs find it a yummy treat.
What is Aquaphor?
Aquaphor is a petroleum-jelly based ointment, commonly used to treat superficial skin wounds or rashes. It contains 41% petroleum jelly, aka Vaseline, as well as mineral oil, lanolin alcohol or glycerin. When applied on a small wound, Aquaphor acts by creating a film-like barrier to lock in moisture and keep out bacteria and other microbes.
This ointment is considered safe for adults, children… and pets, for external use, not as a snack!
Is Aquaphor toxic for dogs?
The point is none of the ingredients in Aquaphor are toxic for dogs. There is no immediate danger to your dog, but the severity of the symptoms your pet will experience will depend on his size and age.
Another important aspect is the quantity of Aquaphor your rambunctious pet ingested. Did he just have fun destroying the tub and abandoning the prey once he got a taste of it? In this case, your pet is pretty much safe.
On the other hand, did he lick the tub clean? It’s been known to happen, although the product is fragrance free and doesn’t contain anything to tickle a dog’s taste buds. If a pet or a child eats more than a mouthful of Aquaphor, it will most likely cause diarrhea, as petroleum jelly is a laxative. The dog might also experience stomach cramps and vomiting, so you’re in for a total mess.
While Aquaphor itself poses little risk to a dog’s health, the diarrhea and vomiting it might cause can have serious effects, especially if we’re talking about a toy breed dog or a puppy. A severe bout of diarrhea and vomiting can cause dehydration which is a medical emergency. Watch out for dehydration symptoms, such as dry sticky gums, sunken eyes, panting or lethargy and call the vet immediately.
If your dog is sneezing, coughing or wheezing there’s the risk some of the balm went down the wrong way and got into his lungs, which can lead to aspiration pneumonia. This is quite rare, but you should keep an eye on the dog nevertheless. The main symptoms of aspiration pneumonia are fever, difficulty breathing and the dog pawing at his muzzle.
What should you do if your dog eats Aquaphor?
First of all, don’t panic! There’s no reason to. Try to determine how much of the ointment did the dog ingest. If there’s a lot of ointment smeared on the carpet chances are your pet didn’t eat much, but mainly had fun with it.
Ignore the mess and focus on the dog first. Clean the dog’s snout and the inside of his mouth with a clean piece of cloth if the dog allows it. Have him drink some water to wash away the taste.
There’s no reason to try and make the dog vomit. On the contrary, making your pet throw up might cause some of the ointment to make it into the lungs on its way out.
Be prepared for loose stools every couple of hours or so. You might want to keep the dog in your backyard and away from carpeted areas, if you know what’s good for you.
Also, you should put the dog on a bland diet to help him with the upset stomach. Have some plain boiled rice ready or try adding canned pumpkin to his normal food to combat diarrhea.
As there’s not much else you can do except wait for nature to take its course, try to determine if your dog ate not only the ointment, but also pieces of the tub it came in. Sharp pieces of plastic or the tub’s cap could cause problems to the dog’s digestive system, worst case scenario being intestinal blockage.
In most cases, a trip to the vet won’t be necessary. However, seek immediate help if your dog becomes dehydrated, you notice signs suggesting pneumonia or you have reason to suspect intestinal blockage!
Can you use Aquaphor on dogs?
Petroleum jelly-based products are safe to treat a dog’s skin rash, minor wounds or a crusty nose. You can also use Aquaphor or other products which contain vaseline to treat peeling paw pads.
Depending on the area where it is applied there’s a chance your dog will lick it off, so it won’t be of much use, but that’s true of any other ointment. At least, products containing vaseline are not toxic.
At the same time, a dab of Aquaphor rubbed on the inside of the dog’s mouth can solve constipation problems.
Why would a dog eat Aquaphor?
Why not? A young curious animal will eat anything that catches his fancy, no matter what it tastes like. In most cases, the reason is boredom. Or feeling lonely. Imagine a dog left alone in the house for hours. Your pet will look for something to entertain himself and the ointment you forgot to put away is as good as any.
Dogs who feel a compulsion to ingest all sorts of inedible stuff suffer from a condition called pica, which is caused by the lack of specific nutrients, Usually, a dog with this condition will consume feces, his own stools or the waste of other dogs.
To stop a dog from eating unsafe products you should always store drugs, lotions, creams and ointments out of sight and out of reach. You probably know that, but then there’s always one day when you’re really in a hurry and you leave something like your Aquaphor on the coffee table. Happens and there’s no need to beat yourself over that.
Are there safer alternatives to Aquaphor?
While vaseline and other petroleum jelly products are considered safe for both humans and pets, there are many who hate the idea of putting anything derived from petrol on their skin. If you have reason to believe your pet might find something like Aquaphor irresistible, you might want to switch to something more natural to treat your skin problems… or those of your pets.
You could, for instance, use coconut oil or shea butter to relieve dry skin. They’re great and totally safe for you and your dog’s delicate paws.
Obviously, if you regularly treat your dog’s skin problems with Aquaphor, the product will be familiar and your pet has every reason to believe it’s actually his. No wonder he used it on his own while you were away!
Try using other types of products, preferably organic ones made with beeswax, olive oil, avocado oil, salve or aloe vera. No Aquaphor around the house, no tempting treat for your bored pet, problem solved!
How can you clean up the Aquaphor mess?
In case your dog managed to treat himself to a whole tub of Aquaphor, prepare yourself for a couple of days of oily loose stools. Don’t yell at the poor thing! Since it’s a laxative, it’s a pretty urgent business so he won’t be able to hold it and wait till you’re ready to take him outside.
Experts say the first thing you need to do is to scrape as much as you can of the mess on your carpet, couch or whatever. Next, it is recommended that you leave the rest to dry overnight and start scraping again in the morning. Hopefully, most of the yucky mess will come off.
Then, prepare a solution with 16 oz of water, 3 oz of white vinegar and a few drops of common dish soap. Stir well and pour the solution over the stained area. Don’t drench the whole carpet! Let it sit for a few minutes, then use a dry cloth to blot the area. Repeat if necessary! When the stain is gone, spray some hydrogen peroxide over the affected area. That should do it!
Also, since you’re dealing with loose oily stool, you might want to give the dog a bath, too, using special dog care shampoo to clean his fur.
Being subjected to a thorough bath two nights in a row might teach your dog not to mess around with things he has no business playing with!
If your pet helps himself to some Aquaphor it is not a medical emergency. The most common problem in this case is diarrhea, with or without vomiting. Arm yourself with cleaning supplies and put your dog on a bland diet for a couple of days.
Once your dog got a taste of a skin balm, he might want to try other skin care products so make sure to store any such items out of his reach. If you have to go to work, confine the dog to a room where he cannot do much damage.
Also, you might want to switch to more natural skin products, which are better for you and safer for your way too curious dog!