Insulation keeps your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter, but it isn't meant for consumption by your pooch. If your dog snacks on your home's insulation, he could develop a dangerous intestinal blockage or experience other health problems. Prevent issues by keeping your canine companion away from this potentially harmful material that surrounds your home.
Home insulation and dogs
You'll find insulation in many parts of your home, such as your walls, roof, ceilings, and attic. Insulating materials include fiberglass, polystyrene, cotton, rock wool, polyurethane foam, polyisocyanurate foam, vermiculite, perlite, and cellulose per the Healthy House Institute. Older homes may contain asbestos-based insulation — a known carcinogen, according to the American Cancer Society — or insulation that contains toxic lead.
Worse yet, many insulating materials are treated with toxic chemicals to make them last longer and discourage pests like rodents from eating them. These toxins can make your pup sick if ingested. While your pooch shouldn't be able to access the insulation in your home, he could encounter it during a home renovation or if he's particularly destructive or curious.
Dangers of dogs eating insulation
The main danger if your dog ate insulation is the possibility of it causing an intestinal blockage for your pooch. Once ingested, these materials can become stuck in your pup's digestive tract, creating a medical emergency that requires a trip to the vet.
Materials like fiberglass can perforate the intestines when ingested, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health, as it is made up of tiny glass fibers. These fibers are sharp when broken and can damage your pup's intestines and stomach. If you suspect your dog has eaten any type of insulation or if you find pieces of it in his feces, get him to the vet right away.
Symptoms of your dog eating insulation
If your dog has the run of your property, it might not be readily noticeable that he ate some insulation. However, likely, he won't be acting like himself.
Your pooch might show signs of intestinal obstruction. Symptoms include vomiting or retching, lethargy, a distended abdomen, and visible discomfort, according to Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine.
Treatment for insulation eaters
Your vet will X-ray your dog to determine if any insulating material is stuck along his digestive tract. If possible, bring the vet a sample of the insulating material your dog has ingested. This will help her determine its level of toxicity and assist her in looking for any internal damage caused.
Some internal blockages require surgical removal. Your vet may use an endoscope, which contains a camera, to look in your pup's tummy and intestines to check out any internal damage or intestinal blockage. She may even be able to remove the blockage using the endoscope. Once it's removed, your vet will treat any poisoning symptoms based on the insulating material ingested.
Prevent insulation eating
Most dogs won't eat insulation, but some do because they are curious or hungry, or because they suffer from pica. Pica is a condition in which a dog likes to eat bad things due to a medical condition or a behavioral issue:
- Prevent your pooch from coming in contact with insulation in any form.
- Restrict your pet from accessing any areas of home renovation.
- Patch up any holes in your home to prevent access to insulation.
- Keep all building materials in an inaccessible area, such as a garage.
- Don't use household insulation in dog houses, according to The Dog-Friendly Home, DIY Projects for Dog Lovers.
- Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine: What is Your Diagnosis?
- Healthy House Institute: Insulation - Chapter 17
- Healthy House Institute: Fiberglass Insulation: Use With Care
- The Dog Friendly Home, DIY Projects for Dog Lovers; Ruth Strother
- Illinois Department of Public Health: Fiberglass
- American Cancer Society: Asbestos
- PetEducation.com: Lead Poisoning in Dogs