September 8, 2019

First 2 Hours: My Dog Ate My Vape Pen

Vaping is everywhere. While teens in particular seem to be especially attracted to electronic cigarettes, millions of adults now use these products, too. Vape pens go by a lot of names - JUULs, e-cigs, mods, etc. - but they're all built the same: a liquid solution inside is heated until it becomes an aerosol and then inhaled. What happens when your dog gets a hold of your vape pen? Here's what you need to know.

0-30 minutes in: Call Your Veterinarian

If you're sure your dog ingested some or part of your vape pen, contact your veterinarian immediately. (If it's after hours, call the closest emergency clinic.) Odds are you'll be asked to bring your dog in for immediate testing, and likely to have a stomach x-ray to determine exactly which pieces of the device were consumed. Follow the vet's advice. If you're unsure whether or not your dog actually ate any vaping equipment, look at the evidence. Is the pen's tank punctured? Are the battery and heater still accounted for? Do you know where the cap is? Everything about your e-cig, from the electronic components to the flavored liquid, can be dangerous to your dog if swallowed. If you see any signs your dog has ingested anything toxic, from drooling to vomiting to lethargy to strange behavior, get your dog to the closest veterinarian immediately.


30 minutes – 1 hour in: Evaluate Toxicity

The real trouble with vape pens is that their labeling is often unreliable. E-liquids are made up of a variety of substances, and not all have been evaluated by the FDA. All contain some form of nicotine or cannabis oil in addition to various flavorings and humectants such as propylene glycol. The solution inside a vape pen is meant to be breathed in as an aerosol, not consumed as a liquid.  E-cig solutions are highly concentrated, and their labeling is notoriously inadequate. In almost any concentration, most of the ingredients in a standard vape pen can give a dog indigestion; when eaten in their entirety, they can even lead to death. It's important to tell your veterinarian everything you know about the vape pen your dog was exposed to and any other materials they may have ingested, such as edibles. The more your vet understands what your dog consumed, the more tailored the immediate and short-term treatment can be.

1 hour – 2 hours in: Treat and Observe

If your dog fully consumed your vape pen, you're likely looking at surgical removal to extract the device and all its components. Most e-cigs are far too big and oddly shaped to "pass" naturally without risk of rupturing your dog's intestinal tract. If your dog ate the vaping solution, treatment will depend on its contents. Marijuana treatment for dogs, for example, is generally limited to IV fluids and close observation. Other chemical compounds may need to be counteracted with medication or even pumped from the stomach entirely. There's a good chance your dog will need to stay under medical observation for several hours or more. If your dog is on a watch-and-wait protocol as directed by a vet, stay attuned to any slowly-emerging signs of distress. Toxicity isn't always sometimes takes hours or even up to a day for symptoms to emerge. When in doubt, talk to your veterinarian to be sure.

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