Prepare for unexpected vet bills

ChapStick is one of the best-known brands of lip balm, and the term “chapstick” is commonly used as a generic term for lip balm. And while lip balm is meant to be used by humans to manage dry and cracked lips, sometimes our furry friends see it as a delicious snack. Available in a wide range of flavors and scents, lip balm can be very enticing for some dogs.

If your dog has just chowed down on some lip balm, you may be wondering whether chapstick is toxic to dogs. The answer: it depends on the ingredients.

In many cases, a dog can ingest lip balm and not have any adverse reaction. However, some lip balms contain ingredients that can be harmful to dogs, such as xylitol and phenol, so it’s important to know exactly what your dog has ingested before deciding on the best course of action.

Symptoms of Chapstick Poisoning in Dogs

Whether or not your dog has an adverse reaction after eating lip balm will depend on factors such as the ingredients in the lip balm, the size of your dog, and how much of the product they ingest. However, some symptoms to keep an eye out for include:

If the lip balm contains xylitol, you’ll also need to monitor your dog for symptoms of xylitol poisoning, which can include serious signs such as:

With this in mind, if your dog consumes any product containing xylitol, don’t wait for symptoms to develop — seek veterinary attention immediately.

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Causes of Chapstick Poisoning in Dogs

In many cases, a dog can help themselves to a lip balm snack and experience no ill effects. However, there are ingredients in some lip balms that can potentially cause issues for your dog. 

For example, one lip balm ingredient that can be extremely dangerous for dogs is xylitol. This sugar substitute is also found in products like baked goods and chewing gum, and it’s toxic to dogs. While the level of toxicity varies depending on the amount consumed relative to your dog’s body weight, xylitol poisoning can be fatal.

Phenol and camphor are two other ingredients to keep an eye out for. Commonly found in medicated lip balms, phenol is also toxic to dogs, while camphor can also cause serious symptoms if consumed in large amounts.

Then there are other ingredients in lip balm that may cause digestive upset for your pet, such as essential oils and sunscreen. If you’re unsure whether there were any dangerous ingredients in the lip balm your dog has consumed, contact your vet for advice.

Finally, it’s also worth pointing out that the lip balm packaging can be dangerous for your dog if ingested. This could cause an intestinal blockage requiring emergency veterinary treatment, plus could also be considered a choking hazard.

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Diagnosis of Chapstick Poisoning in Dogs

If your pet eats lip balm and shows any of the symptoms outlined above, take them to the vet. The vet will examine your dog to assess them for signs of toxicity. If your dog has consumed toxic ingredients, blood tests and/or urinalysis will often be required to check your dog’s overall health.

It will also help if you can provide your vet with details of the ingredients in the lip balm your dog ingested (take along the packaging if you have it) and the amount they consumed.

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Treatment of Chapstick Poisoning in Dogs

The treatment of lip balm poisoning varies depending on the ingredients ingested and the severity of the symptoms. Some dogs will show no symptoms at all, or only have mild symptoms that will resolve on their own. Taking simple steps to manage the symptoms — for example, switching to a bland diet in the short-term in cases of digestive upset — will aid your dog’s recovery.

However, in cases of xylitol poisoning, more intensive treatment will often be required. This may include IV fluids, liver protectants, and antibiotics, while blood transfusions may be necessary in severe cases.

In cases of phenol poisoning, treatment involves fluid therapy to flush out the toxins, while oxygen therapy may be used if your pet is suffering from breathing difficulties.

And if your dog experiences an intestinal blockage after ingesting chapstick packaging, surgery may be required.

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Recovery of Chapstick Poisoning in Dogs

Recovery time also varies depending on what ingredients your dog has ingested and how severe their symptoms are. In mild cases, careful management of any symptoms should have your dog back to full health within 24 hours.

However, recovery time will often differ if your dog has suffered from xylitol poisoning. While fast treatment before any symptoms develop can lead to a positive outlook, extended treatment may be required if liver failure occurs. 

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Cost of Chapstick Poisoning in Dogs

In mild cases, the cost (if any) of treating your dog after ingesting lip balm will be minimal. However, other complications such as xylitol poisoning can require hospitalization and prolonged treatment, which could result in expenses of $500 or more per day.

Chapstick poisoning can be expensive to treat. To protect your pup and yourself from accidents and illnesses, start searching for pet insurance today. Wag!’s pet insurance comparison tool lets you compare plans from leading companies like PetPlan and Embrace. Find the “pawfect” plan for your pet in just a few clicks!
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Chapstick Poisoning in Dogs Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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