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What are Chemical Burns?

You can try to wash off the chemical at home using an alkaline solution of bicarbonate soda and water for twenty minutes before you rush to the vet. However, chemical burns should be treated as an emergency that warrants immediate veterinary attention. If left untreated, the chemicals can start to eat away the flesh.

Chemical burns in cats occur when a cat comes into contact with a poisonous chemical such as a household cleaning product, fertilizer, or pesticide. Due to their particular eating habits, cats don’t tend to ingest these substances of their own volition; chemical burns typically occur when cats walk across a fertilized garden or a freshly cleaned surface. They may ingest the chemical while trying to lick it off their skin.

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Chemical Burns Average Cost

From 258 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,000

Symptoms of Chemical Burns in Cats

Symptoms may vary depending on which chemical caused the burn. One of the first signs of a chemical burn in a cat may be an overwhelming chemical smell. There may be immediate evidence of a chemical burn on the face, eyes, or head. Wash off the chemical and then take your cat to the vet immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • A chemical smell on your cat
  • Red, swollen skin or sores
  • Puckered skin
  • Loss of hair
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased urination or defecation
  • Excessive licking at the burn site*
  • Signs of pain, such as yowling
  • Trouble opening the eyes
  • Shock

*Do not allow your cat to continue to lick the affected area as this could make them seriously ill.

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Causes of Chemical Burns in Cats

The main cause of chemical burns in cats is coming into contact with a dangerous chemical. Cats, while cautious of what they eat, are curious animals, and this could lead them to accidentally ingest  a harmful chemical.

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Diagnosis of Chemical Burns in Cats

Before going to the vet, there are some preliminary steps you should take to prevent the burn from getting worse. Call the vet as soon as you can to let them know what happened. If you know which chemical caused the burn, make sure you read the label to check whether or not there’s an antidote. 

When you wash the chemical away, wear sanitary gloves to avoid exposing yourself to the chemical. If the chemical has gone directly into the eyes, try to hold the eyelids apart and wash them out with lukewarm water. If your cat has ingested the chemical, flush out the mouth. Dry your cat completely, wrap them in a blanket, and then rush to the vet.

Your vet will be able to make a tentative diagnosis based on presentation of symptoms and appearance of the burns. Be sure to inform your vet of the extent and duration of your cat’s symptoms, as well as which chemical they came into contact with, if you know it. Your vet will be able to ensure that your cat hasn’t been poisoned internally through a blood test.

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Treatment of Chemical Burns in Cats

Treatment will begin immediately. The treatment method will depend on the type of chemical and the severity and location of the burn. The vet may need to shave the fur in order to gain better access to the burn to clean it.

Your vet may prescribe an antibiotic ointment for painful burns. However, for some mild burns, the vet may not prescribe any treatments at all, as cats regularly bathe themselves and will end up licking off the ointments.

If the burn is considered severe, antibiotics and pain management medications may be prescribed. If the eyes or mouth have been burned, surgery or supportive nutritional therapy may be required. Your vet will be able to advise you based on your cat’s specific situation.

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Recovery of Chemical Burns in Cats

Recovery and prognosis will depend on the severity of the burn. The general rule of thumb for burns is that those involving less than a third of the cat’s body are most likely to make a good recovery.

Always follow your vet’s post-treatment instructions carefully. If your cat has had surgery, don’t allow them to irritate the surgery site. Always administer any medications, particularly antibiotics, for the full duration of treatment even if symptoms start to improve. Never use any over-the-counter ointments or medications made for human use as these may worsen the condition.

You’ll need to practice preventative measures to avoid another occurrence of chemical burns. You may want to limit your cat’s outdoor activity if you don’t know what caused the burn. Always keep all household cleaning products out of reach of your cat. Always clean up any spilled chemicals immediately.

Depending on the severity of the burn and whether or not your cat has undergone surgery, your vet may schedule follow-up appointments as needed to assess your cat’s progress. If you have any questions regarding treatment or recovery, consult your vet.

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Chemical Burns Average Cost

From 258 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,000

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Chemical Burns Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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egyptian mau

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Six Years

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Unknown severity

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4 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

I have 5 cats, Recently had fleas, used seresto flea collar. Only 1 of the cats had a reaction to the collar. Normal behavior, eating and drinking normally, playing... small bald spot on her neck thats red-ish. Been about a week and a half. Seems to be itchy but not painful. She likes when I put a cool compress on it or antibacterial lotion such as Neosporin but it doesn't look better or worse. What else can I do? Not sure if its an emergency as stated- she is acting totally normal, just concerned about how it looks

Dec. 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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4 Recommendations

Hello, This does look like a reaction. I would continue applying the triple antibiotics ointment and cleaning this area. It can take a few weeks to heal. If this does not get better after a week, it would be best for your vet to look at her. It is not an emergency if she is acting normal otherwise.

Dec. 29, 2020

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Chetose and Sammie

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Kitten

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7 Weeks

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Very Red And Tender Bottom Of Feet

Really I’m not sure what type of burn this is on kittens feet but they were both inside there a little carrier and one of them or maybe both pooped in it and they sit in this poop all night and then the next morning the bottom of their feet is real red and tender and swollen could the poop have cows this or maybe is something that is .I immediately took them out and gave them a good bath but their feet are so red and tender they will not let you touch him and it is only on the bottom

Sept. 16, 2018

Chetose and Sammie's Owner

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Chemical Burns Average Cost

From 258 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,000

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

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