Will Dogs Eat Mothballs? What To Do?

Let’s be honest; dogs tend to sniff around their territory. That’s almost certain for substances that appear unusual to them. At the same time, our canine friends are very playful. So, they can smell and even ingest mothballs. It could be purposeful or accidental.

And, since dogs have become part of most families, you need to keep them off potentially dangerous staff. And that includes mothballs.

What are Mothballs?

Mothballs are classified as pesticides. The key ingredient in them is either naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene, PDB. They come in different shapes including balls, cubes, or even spherical. Ideally, they should be used in sealed chambers, but sometimes people use them in open air and gardens.

As an insecticide, it repels or kills moths and their larvae. That’s why you will mostly find them stored together with clothes. However, other people use mothballs to keep off snake and mice too.

To do that, they scatter the solid insecticide in open places like corners of the garden. Consequently, your pet can then easily find it.

So, What Makes Mothballs Toxic to Dogs?

To kill or repel insects, the insecticide must have a high concentration of the active ingredient. In the older days, the primary element used in mothballs was naphthalene. That made the mothballs highly toxic to dogs and human beings.

However, with technological advancement, modern mothballs most incorporate PDB. That doesn’t make them completely safe, but less toxic. The degree of a mothball’s poisonousness depends on the following:

  • Its size
  • The chemical concentration
  • The age of the dog. Puppies will display quick and severe symptoms than older canines

Your dog doesn’t have to ingest several mothballs to register poison symptoms. In fact, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, just one mothball is enough to make a pet sick.

Symptoms of Mothball Poisoning in Dogs

It is dangerous for your canine friend to inhale the vapor from naphthalene or ingest the mothball. Sniffing the fumes, however, register faster symptoms than swallowing solid insecticide. Usually, it reacts after a few minutes.

In a solid-state, it takes a while to break down and produce noticeable symptoms on the dog. The delay can stretch from a few hours to days. But generally, mothball poisoning produces the following symptoms in dogs:

  • Breath perfumed with mothballs
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritation of the dog’s eyes and nose as a result of the mothball vapor
  • Suffering seizure attacks
  • Lethargy

If you don’t take appropriate action soon, the symptoms advance to the next stage;

  • Vomiting of blood
  • Brown mucous membranes (in the event of severe poisoning)
  • Eventually, the dog’s kidney and liver may be damaged.

In Case of Mothball Poisoning, What Should You Do?

If you suspect or your dog displays the above mothball symptoms, visit your veterinarian without delay. If possible, containerize the sample (or packaging) of the mothball ingested with you to the clinic.

The key to saving your dog is acting in time, the sooner the better. That is because there isn’t any antidote for mothball toxicity. But as mentioned earlier, mothballs containing paradichlorobenzene are less poisonous than those made of naphthalene.

At the clinic, the veterinarian may conduct a blood test to diagnose the severity of the poisoning. If no symptom has been registered, then he may induce vomiting. Otherwise, supportive treatment becomes the next best step.


Mothballs present a real threat to dogs when inhaled or ingested. Compared to cats, canines are more likely to eat solid insecticides. It’s therefore wise to use mothballs in tight places inaccessible by pets.

So, do you suspect your dog has consumed mothballs? Do not induce vomiting; instead, consult your veterinarian as quickly as possible.

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