For some reason, many dogs and cats seem to be attracted to laundry dryer sheets which are used in the dryer to reduce static cling and add fragrance to your clothes. If your dog or cat is one who is obsessed with laundry dryer sheets, you should be aware of the potential danger these innocent-looking little sheets may pose to your pets.
Laundry dryer sheets contain fragrances and chemicals to soften your clothes and reduce static electricity. These chemicals and fragrances may cause skin and respiratory irritation in your pets, and ingestion can result in serious gastrointestinal distress.
Many dryer sheets contain cationic detergents, that is, surfactants with a positive ionic charge meant to neutralize static. You might even read online tips about reducing static electricity in your pet’s fur by rubbing your pet with laundry dryer sheets. However, the Merck Veterinary Manual specifically advises against exposing your pet to cationic detergents, stating that “Cationic detergents are locally corrosive agents, causing dermal, ocular, and mucosal injury similar to that of alkaline corrosive agents. Additionally, exposure to cationic detergents may result in systemic effects ranging from CNS depression to pulmonary edema.” The danger of cationic detergents is greater for cats because of the risk of ingestion during self-grooming.
If you use laundry dryer sheets, be sure to store them in a secure place that your dog or cat does not have access to.