My Dog Ate Vaseline (Petroleum Jelly) – What Should I Do?

My dog ate vaseline. Photo of a dog looking at vaseline and licking himself.

If you’ve come home to discover that your dog ate vaseline, you might be wondering just what you should do about it. Consider this your go-to spot for everything to do with vaseline and your dog.

If your dog has eaten regular vaseline, which is petroleum jelly, the most common complication that you’ll notice is digestion concerns. It could just be an upset stomach or mild indigestion, and it might be vomiting and/or diarrhea.

This can bring some concerns on dehydration, which is always serious in dogs. If the vaseline has other ingredients (such as in skincare products), these can sometimes cause a toxic reaction in dogs.

Most of this comes down to understanding what he actually ate. All you need to know is below!

What happens when your dog eats vaseline?

If your dog eats vaseline when your back is turned, you’ll need to know precisely what will happen in your dog’s body.

Firstly, this is a petroleum jelly, which is a manufactured product. Your dog can’t digest its ingredients, so it’ll simply pass through the body and out the other end. Because their body can’t digest the ingredients, it can lead to literal indigestion.

Indigestion in your dog will be rumbling in the belly, lack of appetite, and then the classic vomiting and diarrhea.

If your dog’s eaten a lot of the vaseline, then you could be dealing with dehydration. Dehydration in dogs is always severe and will often involve a visit to the vet!

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Symptoms to look for if my dog ate vaseline

If you’re wondering just how you will know whether or not the vaseline your dog ate was enough to cause some indigestion, it depends on several factors:

  • Amount of vaseline eaten
  • Type of vaseline eaten
  • Size of dog
  • Dog’s pre-existing health conditions

Amount of vaseline eaten

A couple of mouthfuls will be milder than a half or an entire jar of the vaseline. To the best of your ability, try to determine how much your dog ate if you need that information later if you call your vet. Be as precise as you can, but always round up if needed.

Type of vaseline eaten

Not all vaseline is the same! The classic and plain vaseline that you see in the tubs with the blue lids is as natural as it gets. This, all things considered, is the best choice for your dog to eat. There are no other ingredients that can cause their own reaction.

This differs from vaseline products – for example, moisturizers, hand creams, etc. All of these have extra ingredients that can worsen a reaction in your dog or even cause a more severe reaction (more on that later).

Taking note of what type they’ve eaten, right down to the list of ingredients, is going to be necessary after they’ve had this unapproved snack!

Size of dog

This is much the same with everything to do with dogs, but the smaller the dog, the stronger the symptoms. If your dog is small and has eaten half a tub of vaseline, this is much more serious than an extra-large dog that has eaten the same half tub. The symptoms will likely be stronger and potentially more serious when your dog is smaller, as you’d expect!

Dog’s pre-existing health conditions

In a healthy dog, digestive concerns are one thing. In an unhealthy dog, they are quite another. If your dog has a sensitive stomach or unhealthy digestion, having a more serious reaction to vaseline is much more likely. 

Similarly, a dog in ill health in general (such as senior dogs) and those who are stressed or recovering from an injury will react more since their bodies are weaker.

In all of these examples above, a dog is more likely to have some sort of reaction to the vaseline. This is where a call to your vet with that information will be a great idea!

How toxic is vaseline for dogs?

Vaseline is not toxic in and of itself. As mentioned above, it’s a “harmless” petroleum jelly, though it can cause some indigestion.

The potential toxicity comes from what ingredients are included in the vaseline. One of the main ones that are often added is cocoa butter. This can be toxic for dogs even in small amounts, so eating vaseline with that in it can turn it into a toxic product.

This is also similar to flavors, including many essential oils, dyes, and more. Dogs often have allergies to these things, too, further complicating any potential directions and health conditions.

Can vaseline kill dogs?

You already know the answer to this because we talked about it above. Assuming that they’ve eaten a small amount of regular, plain vaseline, your dog should be okay, save for some understandable indigestion!

The main complication with classic vaseline is the dehydration factor. Since your dog will be struggling with diarrhea and vomiting, dehydration can set in quickly in dogs, especially smaller ones. 

In dogs, dehydration is a serious complication, and it requires a trip to the vet as soon as possible. If it’s not treated in time, your dog can die from it. Symptoms of this include:

  • Lethargy/weakness
  • Excessive drinking
  • Confusion

As soon as you see these symptoms, you’ll want to bring your dog to the vet immediately so that they can intervene.

What should I do if my dog ate vaseline?

If you’re feeling nervous about the vaseline, the best thing to do is call your vet. They’ll be able to give you specific advice to your dog, the type of vaseline they ate, and more. Calling your vet isn’t a bad idea, anyway, when your dog’s eaten something they shouldn’t have eaten!

The other thing to keep in mind is that you should bring your dog to the vet if the symptoms of ingestion last longer than24 hours. In these situations, dehydration is more likely than not, and you’ll want to have him monitored with fluids if this does happen to set in.

Vets can often prescribe treatment to help minimize indigestion and keep your dog safe, too, so this is yet another reason. Are you sensing a theme yet?

Why do dogs like vaseline?

Dogs like eating all sorts of weird things when we come at it from a human point of view. Simply, they like vaseline because it smells good to them, and they want to try it out to see if it tastes just as good (which it often does).

This is also likely in situations where the vaseline has a scent, such as a berry flavor or a vanilla or chocolate flavor. Dogs don’t understand that it’s not food!

How to prevent my dog from eating vaseline

Since you don’t want to put yourself in a situation where your dog has eaten your tub, there are some tips that you can do to help keep them safe! These include:

  • Put it somewhere out of their reach
  • Store it in an airtight container (which makes it harder for them to open and smell)
  • Buy plain vaseline (as opposed to flavored)
  • Don’t allow him in the room where you use it

The goal is to make your vaseline unappealing and inaccessible for your dog. While none (or all) of these will be a foolproof situation, it will help a lot!

In the end

The most common issue with dogs eating vaseline is indigestion, which causes diarrhea and vomiting. This can lead to dehydration, a severe complication for dogs that will need vet attention.

Sometimes additive ingredients to vaseline can also be dangerous. Know the signs of a problem in your dog to ensure they stay safe!

While dogs eating vaseline isn’t the end of the world, especially compared to some of the other dangerous products out there, it can cause stomach issues and more.

Understanding where the risks are and how to alleviate them is really important! Consider sharing this with another vaseline-loving pet parent in your life!

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Andre Neves

Hi, I'm Andre and I'm the owner of Sula the Border Collie. I love writing about this amazing dog breed here. I joined the Council to be able to reach and educate more people on the joy of having a pet dog.