Are Glow Sticks Dangerous for Dogs?

There is nothing quite like having fun with glow sticks, they come in several forms including sticks, bracelets, wands, and necklaces. They are very popular around holidays like the Fourth of July and Halloween. Contained within the glow stick is a chemical that is designed to glow in the dark. If your dog chews through the plastic outer shell, he is in for a shock as the chemical has a very nasty taste to it. While the chemical itself is non-toxic to humans, it can cause problems for your pup if he ingests it.

The Chemical Inside a Glow Stick

The chemical inside a glow stick is DBP, or dibutyl phthalate, and can be clear or any one of a number of neon colors. It has a very bitter taste, which is probably the first thing your dog will notice the minute he bites through the casing.
The good news is that DBP is not considered to be poisonous or toxic if ingested by your dog. However, there a number of veterinarians who have documented toxicological tests that indicate DBP may be responsible for medical issues in younger dogs including:

■ Developmental issues in younger dogs
■ Damage to the kidneys, liver, and reproductive organs
■ Mothers who are nursing and ingest this chemical can pass it on to their puppies

There are several things that should be taken into account if your dog bites into a glow stick and consumes any of the liquid inside. Bear in mind that how each dog reacts may be different based on breed, size, weight, age, and how much of the chemical the dog has ingested.

There is one more problem that can occur if your dog bites into one of the larger glow sticks as many of them contain a glass capsule. This capsule contains a chemical that reacts with the liquid in the main area of the glow stick and causes the glow effect. If your dog manages to ingest the glass, this can cause significant complications that may require surgery.

Symptoms of DBP Ingestion

While ingesting the outer plastic housing can cause a blockage in your pup's throat, his stomach, or his intestines and the glass can cause severe internal damage, there are other symptoms you should be aware of, including:

■ Becoming agitated or aggressive
■ Blood in your dog's stools 
■ Drooling excessively – foaming at the mouth 
■ Gagging and/or heaving 
■ Diarrhea
■ Vomiting 
■ Lack of appetite 
■ Becoming dehydrated 
■ Hyperactivity

What Can Be Done If My Dog Ingested DBP?

The first part of treatment lies in your hands. You need to find the glow stick your pup has chewed into and determine how big it was originally. Then try to figure out how much of it your dog has managed to eat. If your dog has ingested a large amount of the glow stick, you need to take him to see the vet as soon as possible for a full examination. Be sure to take the remains of the glow stick with you.
For smaller amounts, you can probably take care of your dog without rushing to the vet's office. The worst reaction from your dog will be the result of the nasty taste in his mouth. Start by using a wet washcloth or towel to wash out his mouth and wipe off his tongue in an attempt to rid it of the foul taste.
You can also give your dog food or liquid to help get rid of the taste. These can include any one of the following:

■ Your dog's favorite treats
■ Milk
■ Canned dog food
■ Tuna fish in water
■ Chicken stock

You should also give your dog a bath to remove any trace of the DBP from his coat that he could ingest while grooming himself. Of course, if you are not sure whether or not there is any of the chemical on your pup's coat, just take him into a dark room and see if he glows!

Down to the Last Lumen

The simple fact is that as long as your dog is in reasonably good health, the dibutyl phthalate contained in glow sticks is not likely to kill your furry four-legged friend, but it might make him pretty sick. The best thing you can do is pay close attention to where your family uses glow sticks and how they are disposed of. Be sure to store and dispose of them in a manner in which your dog cannot access them to keep him safe and sound. If you think your dog has ingested DBP, be sure to contact your vet and ask for his suggestions.

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