Are Dryer Sheets Harmful to Cats?

Introduction

Cats are curious animals who love to get into all kinds of awkward situations. They love to hop on the warm places like the dryer and make it their napping spot. If your dryer is broken, you can search for “dryer repair near me” and hire professionals to fix it for you. However, things can become very alarming when your cat comes in contact with dryer sheets. Let’s check out if dryer sheets are harmful to your cats and what you can do to protect your cats. 

The Details

  1. Dryer sheet chemicals – Dryer sheets are very useful in the laundry room since they remove static from clothes and don’t make those fabrics cling together. This reduces wrinkles and some dryer sheets even leave a nice fragrance on your clothes. However, this is possible due to the use of certain chemicals on the dryer sheets. Different companies have different formulas for dryer sheet chemicals, and it varies drastically. 

However, dryer sheets and fabric softeners are known to have toxic compounds like camphor, benzyl acetate, and chloroform. So, if your cat or dog comes in contact with the dryer sheets directly or indirectly, it can be harmful to your pawed friends. It’s especially dangerous if chemicals on dryer sheets and fabric softeners are directly ingested by your cats by chewing on them. Even a used dryer sheet has a strong concentration of chemicals.

The compounds in the dryer sheets and fabric softeners can cause all sorts of problems. In the best-case scenario, your pet suffers from minor problems like skin irritation. In worst cases, your cat may suffer from pulmonary edema or other such systemic distress. Your cat or dog may also suffer from kidney failure if they directly ingest the chemicals on dryer sheets. 

The horror story does not end there. When your cat or dog chews on dryer sheets, they don’t just get super strong doses of cationic chemicals, but also ingest synthetic material the sheet is made from. Those materials don’t break down and may be stuck in the gastronomical tract of your furry friend. This can be fatal and may require surgery. Those surgical procedures add further risk to your cat’s health.    

  1. Things to do if your cat eats dryer sheets or fabric softener – If you suspect your cat or dog of ingesting dryer sheets or fabric softener, immediately contact your veterinarian. Don’t try to force your dog or cat to vomit since it can worsen the irritation inside their mouth and esophagus. Make sure to record all the details including the brand of the dryer sheet or fabric softener, the approximate amount that was ingested, and the time your cat ate it. All that information may help the vet to come up with a more accurate diagnosis and solution. 

Depending on various factors, your vet may also recommend you take your pet to an animal hospital. While home treatment is possible in some cases, most such cases of dryer sheet or fabric softener ingestion require treatment at the hospital. Pick up the fabric softener or dryer sheet packaging along with you so that the vet can’t figure out the chemical composition.  

  1. Dryer sheet precautions – There are some online forums where well-meaning, yet ill-informed people advise pet owners to remove loose hair from their dogs and cats by using dryer sheets. However, animals always lick themselves clean and those dangerous chemicals that are left behind by rubbing the dryer sheets on their bodies may get ingested. There’s only one place where you should use dryer sheets to remove pet hair and that’s from your own clothes inside the dryer. 

Moreover, dryer sheets are synthetic materials that don’t biodegrade easily. So, if they are ingested, even the heavily used ones that don’t have any chemicals on them can harm your pet. A lot of pet owners use the laundry room for feeding their dogs or cats and that can be dangerous if they come in contact with dryer sheets, fabric softeners, or even regular detergents. 

Make sure to feed your pets in a different place to avoid such accidents. It’s also important to skip the fabric softener or other harsh chemicals and dryer sheets when you’re drying pet bedding or clothes. You don’t want your furry friends to accidentally lick the chemical residue from their bed or their cute fluffy collar.  

  1. Dryer sheet alternatives – While you can take all the precautions of keeping dryer sheets and fabric softeners away from your pets, the best solution is to get rid of them entirely. Those toxic chemicals and their residue on fabric don’t just harm your pets, but you are too. 

One of the easiest things to do for getting rid of dryer sheets and fabric softeners is to reduce your reliance on the dryer and line dry your clothes. This saves you a lot of money on laundry supplies and power, reduces carbon emissions, and doesn’t harm your pets. 

You can also opt for natural alternatives instead of dryer sheets. Things like balls of aluminum foil or woolen balls are a much better, safer, and environmentally friendly alternative to dryer sheets. Every kitchen has a couple of rolls of food-grade aluminum foil. You can simply use some of the foil to create balls of aluminum and throw them inside the dryer. They do as good a job as dryer sheets at reducing static. 

Woolen balls are even better. They can be used for several drying cycles, and you can also add a few drops of essential oil to them to make your laundry smell fresh. In the long run, they are cheaper than dryer sheets and certainly more convenient and more effective at reducing wrinkles.       

Conclusion

Dryer sheets have all sorts of chemicals that free your clothes from static but make them toxic. Those chemicals aren’t good for you or your pets. That’s why it’s best to use dryer sheet alternatives and keep such harsh materials out of your pet’s reach. On the other hand, to fix your broken dryer, you can search for “dryer repair near me” and hire pros to fix it for you.

By Mary Smith
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