Why Do Dogs Eat Underwear? (Will My Dog Pass Underwear?)

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Has Your Underwear Gone Missing? Own A Dog?

Across the globe, dogs eat their owner’s underwear. What is up with that? It’s probably the most famous fact about dogs. We know dogs will do weird things, but this has to be one of the oddest. There are many reasons why dogs eat underwear.

If your dog has eaten your underwear then there is little cause for concern, unless they have consumed large amounts which could cause intestinal blockages and discomfort. If your dog appears distressed, lethargic, and develops diarrhea then they should be seen by a vet straight away

Since dogs eat things like their poop and hairballs, it’s not completely shocking that they might eat underwear! Trying to figure out why dogs eat things like underwear can be a bit of a challenge.

Dogs will chew on almost anything, and there are many reasons why this behavior occurs. Sometimes they are just being mischievous, other times they may actually be addicted to the taste or feel of certain items.

So let’s dive in and take a look at some of the reasons why dogs eat underwear.

Why Do Dogs Eat Underwear?

Dogs eat non-food substances due to a common condition known as Pica. These non-food items typically include things like underwear, socks, etc. that carry the strongest marker of the owner which the dogs prefer.

So, dogs sometimes chew or eat them because they like the smell of their owner’s pheromones on them. Most dogs that are prone to pica eat underwear because of behavioral reasons, such as anxiety, stress, or boredom.

Apart from this, pica can also be due to an underlying condition, e.g. a dietary deficiency or a gastrointestinal problem.

Will My Dog Pass Underwear?

It depends on certain factors, e.g. the type of underwear, how big your dog is, etc. Generally, if the dog is small, he will be able to pass underwear without any problem. However, a large, adult dog would find it challenging to do so.

The ability to pass underwear heavily depends on the size of the canine. In a worst-case scenario, the dog cannot pass underwear or any other non-food substance via his gastrointestinal tract. In such a situation, the underwear will eventually create an obstruction or blockage.

Your dog might pass the underwear without you even noticing. Since they’re swallowing these items whole – or nearly whole – there won’t be any evidence that they’ve eaten an item of your clothing unless you find the tattered remains somewhere in your house or yard.

If you don’t know if they swallowed your underwear or not, watch closely for vomiting or diarrhea over the next couple of days.

How Long for Dog to Pass Underwear?

This depends on the size of the dog’s bowels and stomach. If the dog has a large bowel or stomach, it could take up a week for him to pass underwear.  On the other hand, if the dog’s bowels and stomach are not as big then it may be able to pass underwear very quickly.

There is another factor that affects this and it’s the time it takes for the dog to eat the underwear. The longer the dog keeps eating it, the more difficult it would be for his intestines to get it out of his system.

Can Puppies Eat Underwear?

Yes. Puppies that are less than seven months old generally tend to develop the habit of eating non-food items, including underwear, because of the discomfort caused by teething.

Since the teething phase occurs at this age in dogs, you should understand that your canine friend may be dealing with discomfort and pain. Chewing or eating objects such as your underwear or socks may help him to alleviate this discomfort.

Why Do Dogs Take Underwear?

Stealing underwear, socks, and other personal items of their owners is a common behavior for dogs. They don’t do this because they actually want to eat these non-food items.

Instead, they do this for other reasons, e.g. they need entertainment and fun, they enjoy chewing, they like your smell, or they are simply playful and curious and hence interested in things you have lying around.

Particularly in the case of underwear, dogs take them because they carry powerful olfactory messages. Your underwear smells like you, which makes it highly appealing to your dog.

Some dogs take such objects as part of an attention-seeking behavior pattern. However, in certain cases, it could also mean that they are suffering from separation anxiety.

Can Dogs Get Sick from Eating Underwear?

Yes. Generally, your dog will be able to pass objects like underwear, socks, etc. and you might not even notice anything unusual until you find that item in his stool.

However, if a dog fails to pass it, it can result in a life-threatening blockage. Obstructions or blockages can cause the stomach or intestines to compromise or cut off the blood supply and if the blood supply is interrupted for over a few hours, there’s a risk of GI tissues dying, which can lead to permanent damage.

Signs of obstruction typically appear within 24-48 hours. These symptoms include decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, changes in behavior, lethargy, difficulty defecating, etc. These symptoms are serious and will most likely require professional veterinary treatment.

Can Dogs Get STDs from Eating Underwear?

No, dogs cannot get STDs from eating underwear. Generally, they can get dog STDs but not human STDs. So, you really don’t have to worry about this issue when it comes to this scenario.

What you should be concerned about is the potential risk of obstruction in case your dog has swallowed the underwear. In any case, it would be a good idea to take your dog to the vet to ensure peace of mind.

How Can I Stop My Dog from Eating My Underwear?

The best way to stop your dog from eating your underwear is to keep such items out of reach. Keep dirty laundry in a closed bin or hamper and put the clean underwear in a closet or drawer before your dog can steal it from the laundry basket.

Apart from this, it is also recommended that you take steps to reduce your dog’s boredom and enrich his environment. Spend time bonding with him and buy quality dog chews and interactive dog toys to keep him occupied.

Training can also help you control your dog’s habit of eating underwear. Work on cues, e.g. “leave it”, “drop it”, etc. so you can stop your dog at the moment you catch him trying to take or eat your underwear.

Don’t use punishment to make your dog obey. Instead, use positive reinforcement. And as mentioned before, redirect your dog to a game or toy. Reward him for diverting his attention from non-food items, e.g. socks, underwear, etc.

In summary, dogs can eat underwear and it’s not unusual for them to do so. Typically, dogs who eat underwear are young puppies, anywhere from 10 weeks to 6 months of age. This is also the time when puppies are most likely to play with their own waste because they don’t know any better.

Tearing off a piece of something and running off with it is a very common behavior for dogs in this stage of development. The fact that it’s your underwear doesn’t matter to them; it’s just something from you that will make a nice chew toy and/or a potential game of fetch.

You may also be interested in… Are Dehumidifiers Bad for Pets? and How Often Should You Replace Your Underwear?