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Are Glow Sticks Dangerous for Dogs?


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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, they are in for a shock as the chemical inside has a very nasty taste to it. While the chemical itself is non-toxic to humans, it can cause problems for your pup if they ingest it.

two white and brown dogs - are glow sticks dangerous for my dog

Are glow sticks dangerous for my dog?

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 they bite through the casing.

The good news is that DBP is not considered to be poisonous or toxic if ingested by your dog, although they may be very distressed by the result if they do. 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
  • 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. DBP is considered caustic and the ingestion of it should be taken seriously. Not only that, but 35% hydrogen peroxide (as opposed to 3 to 6% found in the pharmacy) is also contained within the glow stick because the combination of it with the DBP makes the stick glow.

Besides the terrible taste of dibutyl phthalate, it is known to be a possible irritant to the skin and eyes, as is the 35% hydrogen peroxide. There is one more problem that can occur if your dog bites into one of the larger glow sticks. 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.

green purple and red glow sticks

What will happen if my dog chews a glow stick?

Ingesting the outer plastic housing can cause a blockage in your pup's throat, stomach, or intestines and the glass can cause severe internal damage. You may not be aware of a blockage right away, but there are other symptoms you should be aware of, including:

  • Agitation or aggression
  • Blood in your dog's stools
  • Drooling excessively and foaming at the mouth
  • Gagging and/or heaving
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Becoming dehydrated
  • Hyperactivity
  • Pawing at the eyes and mouth

Glow stick poisoning can be expensive to treat.

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What do I do if my dog chews a glow stick?

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 them 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 their mouth. Start by using a wet washcloth or towel to wash out the mouth and wipe off the tongue in an attempt to remove the foul taste.

You can also give your dog food or liquid to help get rid of the bitter taste. These can include any one of the following:

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

Additionally, check the eyes for irritation and gently wash their face. You should also give your dog a bath to remove any trace of the hydrogen peroxide and DBP from their coat that could be ingested when they lick their fur. Of course, if you are not sure whether or not there are any of the chemicals on your companion's coat, just take them into a dark room and see if they glow.

Take precautions

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 them 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 them safe and sound. If you think your dog has ingested DBP, contact your vet and ask for their advice.

Ingestion of a foreign object is a common condition among dogs and can be expensive to treat. Fortunately, most pet insurance companies reimburse claims within 3 days, putting 90% of the bill back in your pocket. In the market for pet insurance? Compare leading pet insurance companies to find the right plan for your pet.

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