If you’ve got a dog who likes to eat anything in sight that smells great, you may find yourself in a situation where he’s eaten a candle—worried about what it might do? Here’s what you should know!
In most cases, traditional household wax candles are made from either paraffin, beeswax, soy, or a combination of those things. None of these materials are considered poisonous for dogs. Since all of these will soften and pass harmlessly through a dog’s digestive tract, eating a candle shouldn’t cause any harm.
Why do dogs eat candle wax?
Dogs love to eat anything that smells good. Your pumpkin spice cinnamon candle smells equally delicious to them as it does to you! So, because they don’t understand that it’s not food, they eat it.
Sometimes dogs will eat unscented candles, too, simply because they’re curious, bored, or perhaps dealing with separation anxiety.
What is the harm in my dog eating a candle?
In most cases, as mentioned, the candle itself won’t injure your dog. The wax of it is typically easy enough for your dog to pass through after a day or two, not worse for wear. Sometimes, however, he may chew on it and swallow a few large gulps.
Depending on what the candle is made of, its materials may take longer and be harder to squeeze through his digestive tract. Substantial pieces of mostly paraffin can create a blockage, and this may require a trip to your vet. This is more likely if your dog is tiny, too, for obvious reasons!
There is some danger, though, in the metal segment on the wick, as well as the wick itself. The metal of the wick plate can be sharp, and it may create a perforation (aka a rip) in your dog’s stomach or digestive tract while it travels through his system. Again, the size of the dog is a factor! You’ll need to watch closely for signs of this (more on that later).
As far as the wick is concerned, the longer it is, the more dangerous it could be. If it’s near the bottom, your dog should be mostly okay. However, a long wick can get stuck to the digestive tract and be a breeding ground for bacteria. It can also potentially create a blockage that may need surgery to clear, especially if it gets all twisted up together.
Can candle wax kill dogs?
In most cases, eating a candle shouldn’t cause any harm to your dog because the wax itself is easy enough to pass through his system. LEt’s assume that he’s not eaten the wick or the metal plate.
In some candles, however, there could be chemicals used to bind the wax together. These chemicals, depending on their strength and the size of your dog, could potentially cause a problem as they’re digested. For this reason, pet owners should aim for soy candles with no chemical additives.
It’s a good idea to know what your candles are made of, too. For instance: is it pure soy? Is it soy and wax? Or is it beeswax and paraffin candles? These can all interact differently, and your vet may want to know which it is(more on that in a bit).
If you suspect that your candle does have chemical additives in it, you’ll want to consider keeping it far out of reach of your dog or perhaps donating it to a non-dog-owning family just to be on the safe side.
Unscented vs. scented candle wax: is there a difference?
Yes, there is a massive difference in the potential danger of a candle when it comes to a candle that is scented. Unless you are going with taper candles for your dining room or you have allergies, the odds are that your home’s candles are scented in some way, right? That’s part of why we love them so much, after all!
The danger with scented candles, unfortunately, is that they are often scented with essential oils. These essential oils, due to their strength, are often poisonous to your dog. While this is not a complete list, some of the most dangerous essential oils for your dog include tea tree oil, wintergreen, peppermint, pine, sweet birch, cinnamon, and citrus. If you have scented candles, you’ll want to check to see if any of them include these potentially dangerous essential oils!
The potential toxicity of a scented candle is going to depend on how much your dog ate, the concentration of the essential oil in the candle, and the size of your dog. If you know your dog has eaten a significant portion of a scented candle, a call to your vet is always the safest choice! But, more on that in the next section.
Danger signs to look for if my dog ate wax
Even if you know that your dog ate a candle that should be harmless, it’s always best to be safe rather than sorry, right? Some common danger signs in his behavior include:
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Panting excessively
- Struggling to breathe
- Lack of appetite
- Restlessness or obvious discomfort
Since part of the danger of candles for your dog comes from the amount he ate and the wick, any of these symptoms means that he is struggling to digest it. In some cases, it could be evidence that there is something in the wax that is creating a more significant problem as well (i.e., allergies, toxic candle ingredients, etc.). If you see any of these symptoms or a combination of them, you will want to call your vet!
What should I do if my dog ate candle wax?
You’ve just come home from work to find a half-eaten candle on the floor — sound familiar? If you’re in this situation or a similar one, there are steps to follow to help you watch for anything potentially dangerous and keep everyone safe.
Before we get into that, remember to stay calm and in control. If your dog senses your distress, it may cause him to be stressed out, too. These symptoms often mimic an adverse reaction to the candles, which can mean an unnecessary trip to the vet. Plus, a calm human and calm dog is always helpful in a potentially stressful situation, anyway.
What are the steps to follow if my dog ate candle wax?
Here are your go-to steps to follow if your dog ate any kind of wax. These are the general steps to follow for both unscented and scented candles:
- Check the candle’s ingredients for potential dangerous ones
- Find the wick and metal bottom of the wick
- Call your vet to give them the candle’s information
- Watch for dangerous reactions
- Help any indigestion along at home
Check the candle’s ingredients for potential dangerous ones
This could be chemical additives, or it could be essential oils and other scent additions for those scented candles. If you can’t find the ingredients on the candle itself (for obvious reasons), check online to get as accurate as you can!
Find the wick and metal bottom of the wick
While you pick up the remnants of the candle, find the wick and the metal base if you can. Check anywhere that you find even a hint of the candle to make sure that you know whether or not your dog ate it! This will be vital information to tell your vet, so search far and wide (and in your dog’s mouth, if needed).
Call your vet to give them the candle’s information
In most situations, you’ll want to give your vet a call and let him know what happened. You can expect questions on the kind of candle that he ate (including details on whether it was wax, beeswax, or soy candle), as well as how much he ate and whether or not he ate the wick and its plate. Be as accurate as you can.
They may ask you to bring him in just on spec, and if that’s the case, bring the candle remnants and any information you have on it with you!
Watch for dangerous reactions
From the wick or the wax, or from any kind of oils or other ingredients in the candle itself, you’ll want to watch closely and carefully for any type of bad reaction. If you even suspect that he’s having a bad reaction, definitely take him in to get a check-up from the veterinarian!
Help any indigestion along at home
If your dog is just feeling a little backed up from his difficult snack, you can help him digest it right at home! Common options are plain white bread, plain white rice, or plain canned pumpkin. These will all help push the candle and its materials through and get your dog back to his usual healthy self.
While eating a candle isn’t necessarily toxic for your dog, there are some important signs and complications to know about! This guide is ready to help you be armed and at the ready just in case.
Unscented candles aren’t necessarily dangerous to dogs, but scented candles can contain toxic ingredients that could make them dangerous. The potential harm from eating a candle comes mainly from the wick and its metal base.
Know someone that would want to know all about candles? Or, do you know a pet parent who was recently in this situation? Please share this with them!