Few of us can resist a freshly baked cupcake, and neither can our dogs. So, unfortunately, it’s not an uncommon scenario for a dog to gobble up a tasty cupcake left within reach and eat the cupcake wrapper in the process!
In many cases, small traditional paper wrappers may pass through a dog’s gut without causing a major problem. Some materials can cause more harm than others, but in most cases, it’s fairly harmless. The humble cupcake itself also may present some serious health hazards to your dog.
The following is a guide to recognizing the risks if your dog has eaten a cupcake wrapper and when to be worried. Remember it is always best to consult your veterinarian if you have any concerns about the health of your dog.
Are Cupcake Wrappers Bad For Dogs?
There are a few different types of cupcake and muffin wrappers available. The risk varies depending on the sort of wrapper eaten by your dog. Here are the most common wrappers that might be eaten by your pup, along with when you need to worry.
Silicone Cupcake Wrappers
Reusable silicone wrappers or cupcake cases are becoming more popular, but unfortunately are problematic if eaten by a do. Silicone wrappers have a high risk of causing a blockage in their gut (intestinal obstruction).
Foil Cupcake Wrappers
Understandably, many owners are concerned about tin foil wrappers causing aluminum toxicity or poisoning. Thankfully, it is extremely unlikely that your dog will absorb a toxic dose of aluminum after eating a foil cupcake liner. The major risk is the wrapper’s potential to become lodged in the gut or as a choking hazard. This is especially true for small dogs and puppies.
Paper Cupcake Wrappers
Traditional paper liners are more likely to pass through the gut safely, especially if chewed into small pieces or eaten by a large breed dog. However, they are still a possible choking hazard and have the potential to cause a blockage. This also goes for any waxed paper or parchment paper that might have been eaten in the process.
Leftover Cupcake Ingredients
We also need to consider the ingredients used to make the cupcakes, especially if the dog has eaten the cupcake (or multiple cupcakes) in the process. Common ingredients such as chocolate, artificial sweeteners containing Xylitol, and raisins are all toxic to dogs. If your canine companion has consumed any of these toxic foods, contact a veterinarian immediately.
My Dog Ate a Cupcake Wrapper, What Now?
If your pup decided to make quick work of a cupcake while you had your back turned in the kitchen, there are a few steps you’ll need to take. As previously stated, contact your veterinarian immediately if your dog is lethargic or displaying any signs of a bowel obstruction.
Step 1: Check Your Dog
Look for any signs of pain or distress. If your pup is having difficulty breathing (breathing faster than normal, having trouble taking breaths, has pale or blue-tinged gums) or appears to be choking, go to an emergency vet immediately. If your dog is bright and seems comfortable, continue to step 2. Take note of any vomiting, as this should be reported to a vet.
Step 2: Cleanup & Prevent Access
Remove the remaining cupcakes and any associated baking paper and equipment from reach of your pets. You don’t want them swallowing any more wrappers. If your furry friend raided the trashcan and there is a large mess, move your pets to another secure area of the house while you clean up.
Step 3: Gather Your Information
Try to work out what has been eaten. How many cupcakes are missing? What were the wrappers made of, and how much of the wrapper has been eaten? Has the wrapper been chewed into small pieces? Did the cupcakes contain any toxic ingredients? This might mean going through the trashcan or piecing together bits of the wrapper. The more information, the better.
Step 4: Call Your Veterinarian
Assess the risk factors. If you think your dog has eaten just a small amount of paper wrapper, that has a good chance of passing through (especially a large breed dog). You may elect just to wait and monitor. If your pup is a small breed or puppy and has eaten a foil or a silicone wrapper, call your vet ASAP. If your pup has eaten any toxic foods, is unwell in any way, or you aren’t sure, you also need to call your veterinarian.
Make sure you give them all the information you have, including the age, breed, and size of your dog and what signs (if any) they are currently showing. From here, your vet will tell you if you need to come into the clinic. They may also advise you to wait and monitor your pup closely at home. Make sure you follow all of their instructions closely. You might see pieces of wrapper passing through their feces over the next 48-72 hours.
What Happens Next?
If your dog needs to go to the vet, they will start by taking an extensive history from you, so they can assess the level of risk. They will then carefully examine your dog and advise you on the next steps. This may be to wait and monitor at home if they think the wrapper is likely to pass through.
If they are concerned about the cupcake wrapper causing a blockage, they will perform tests such as x-rays, ultrasound examination, and blood work. If the wrapper is causing a blockage, your vet will discuss surgical options to remove it under a general anesthetic.
Here are some of the possible outcomes after your dog has eaten a cupcake wrapper:
Dog Passes The Cupcake Wrapper
In many cases, especially for larger breed dogs, small amounts of paper and even foil from a cupcake case may pass through the gut with no major concerns over the next 48-72 hours. It’s not uncommon for canines to have a small amount of diarrhea and a bit of an upset tummy after eating something inedible.
However, if your dog is showing any of the signs associated with a blockage, such as vomiting, unable to keep water down, lethargy, or a poor appetite, you should seek veterinary attention.
Dog Vomits Up Wrapper At Home
This is also a possibility, but it can be difficult to know if the entire wrapper has been brought up (or if any more have been left behind). If you can stomach it, use gloves and see if you can work out how much of the wrapper has been brought up. You’ll want to see if any is missing based on the information you have. If you’re unsure, or the vomiting continues, speak to your vet as soon as possible.
It is important never to make your pet vomit at home. This should only be performed by a veterinary professional who will assess if it is appropriate to do so. They will then provide an injection to perform the procedure as safely as possible. Bits of cupcake wrapper can cause damage coming back up.
Toxicity From Cupcake Ingredients
As previously discussed, many of the ingredients we use to bake cupcakes are toxic to dogs. If your cupcake was just plain with no major ingredients, then most basic bread products won’t cause harm. But if your cupcakes were made with anything toxic, this should be noted to your veterinarian.
Common toxic ingredients include coffee grounds, chocolate, macadamia nuts, artificial sweeteners containing Xylitol (it’s also in gum and in some peanut butter), alcohol for flavoring, and raisins. Your vet will be able to determine the risk of toxicity from these ingredients based on the amount eaten and the size of your pup.
They will then recommend the appropriate treatment. This may include placing your dog on a drip in the hospital or giving activated charcoal to help with toxin elimination. Fatty foods such as butter or coconut oil also pose a potential risk as they can trigger pancreatitis (painful inflammation of the pancreas and associated illness).
Blockage & Perforation
One of the biggest hazards from a dog swallowing a cupcake wrapper is a blockage to the gut. This is also known as an ‘intestinal obstruction,’ where your vet will need to surgically remove the wrapper from the intestines or stomach. In some cases, foreign material can also be removed with the use of an endoscope (an instrument with a small camera).
If left untreated, an obstruction can lead to perforation of the gut and leakage of gut contents into the abdomen. This causes a life-threatening infection known as septic peritonitis. A true bowel obstruction will never pass on its own, and time is of the essence. Early treatment is often significantly cheaper and safer than delay.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are common questions you may have about cupcake wrapper ingestion with your dog. If you feel we’ve missed any, feel free to drop us a line in the comments section!
How can I prevent my dog from getting cupcake wrappers?
Prevention is much better than cure, and not having to worry about the hazard a cupcake wrapper may pose. Make sure you keep all baked goods out of reach – this includes the kitchen counter, coffee table, and trash can. Pet-secure trash cans are available, or you can consider removing the trash from areas your dog can access.
When having guests over, make sure they are careful not to drop food or leave wrappers in easy to reach places. It is especially important to supervise small children closely when eating around dogs. You might even consider keeping your dog in a separate room when baking or hosting guests if they are particularly food-motivated!
Can a dog’s stomach digest a cupcake wrapper?
While small pieces of paper might be digested in your dog’s stomach, unfortunately, cupcake wrappers made of foil and silicone won’t be. This is also true of larger amounts of waxed paper. This means one of two things. The undigested wrapper will either pass through the gut safely or it won’t be able to and will become blocked. As mentioned, blockages require veterinary intervention.
What are the signs of a gut blockage in dogs?
Common signs seen with bowel obstruction are vomiting (especially multiple times), poor appetite, quiet behavior, lethargy, and straining to defecate without producing feces. If your dog is showing any of these signs, seek urgent veterinary attention.
Can a dog die from eating a cupcake wrapper?
It would be rare for a dog to die from eating a cupcake wrapper, but it can happen if a gut blockage caused by a liner is left untreated. If you suspect a bowel obstruction, you should call your vet for advice.
Is it bad if a dog eats aluminum foil?
Aluminum foil is not toxic to dogs. In most cases, small amounts will pass safely through the gut. However, aluminum foil is not digestible, and large amounts can cause gut blockages.
While a normal, paper cupcake or muffin wrapper is unlikely to cause problems except in the smallest of dogs, silicone and foil wrappers are more dangerous. You should also consider whether any toxic ingredients were eaten alongside the cupcake wrapper. If your dog decides to eat one when you aren’t looking, you should call your vet immediately. They will be able to help you decide on the appropriate treatment.