Soap Pods Irritate Pets

December 10, 2014

Over the last few months there have been a host of news stories about the hazards of  prepackaged laundry detergent pods – you know those brightly colored and highly concentrated containers of laundry soap – which surprise, surprise, small kids think are candy and try to eat.  Well, according to the folks at DVM 360 and Pet Poison Helpline, it turns out that these pods are also having a negative impact on pets. Soap pods irritate pets, but it can get much worse.

Most soaps and detergents contain chemicals called ionic and anionic surfactants. When pets ingest a small amount of such products, it’s possible for them to respond to the unpleasant taste or to have mild, self-limiting gastrointestinal upset (drooling, vomiting and diarrhea).  But over the past two years, Pet Poison Helpline reports that of the cases reported to it (which of course might be the more severe cases) 72 percent of pets developed clinical signs.  Of those with clinical symptoms, 84 percent experienced vomiting, 21 percent experienced cough, 17 percent experienced lethargy and 13 percent experienced dyspnea, wheezing or other respiratory irritation.

But pets have been exposed to these products for as long as there have been washing machines and we’ve been dropping soap on the floor or leaving the box open for them to get into, so what is difference now? It’s thought to be the way the product is formulated in the pod. When pets bite into a soap pod, the product is both highly concentrated and under pressure.  When the pod is punctured, the detergents are forcefully expelled and may be easily aspirated or swallowed, often in large amounts.  If a pet were to swallow multiple packets there is also the theoretical risk of a foreign body obstruction and erosive lesions from prolonged contact in the gut.

Should your pet get exposed to the concentrated soap it is important to dilute the soap as much as possible—this means that if your pet bites into the pods you need to rinse the mouth and any skin or even your pet’s eyes until the slick, “soapy” feel is gone.  If your pet has persistent vomiting or respiratory issues you should consult with your veterinarian immediately.

So what’s a pet parent do to do?

  • Option 1: use the wash & fold service at your dry cleaner.
  • Option 2: start wearing dirty clothes.
  • Option 3: just go back to the old way of doing laundry when you actually used a measuring cup.

By the way, Mark went for option 2.  We know that convenience is important and know that there are pros and cons with every product we use in modern-day life (except for the TV remote which only has pros), but in this case we think we’ll stick to measuring our laundry soap out for each load and keep the bright-colored individually wrapped items in the candy jar where they’ve always been instead of in the laundry room.

Thanks for reading!

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