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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.

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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Olive

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tabby

dog-age-icon

1 Month

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Straining To Defecate

I am a clean freak, I bathed my kitten once with Warm water mixed with diluted Savlon. Frequently, post she poo I cleaned her butt with cotton dipped in savlon and run it through water. Got to know it is poisonous. I'm worried if she has chemical burn as her butt was mild red the other day, she keeps licking it constantly, she is dehydrated, lethargic, not eating well. Are there any chances of oesophegal damage? Other than that she doesn't drink water on her own, I feed her lactocent formula in warm water as recommended by vet.Can that be the reason for dehydration - dry lips & skin? Her other medications are: Provical.Pet, Provi Boost drops and Immuncare (vet recommended)

July 11, 2018

Olive's Owner

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0 Recommendations

Make sure you rinse any area with plain water and use a dab of petroleum jelly to keep the area from drying out; keep an eye on it and if there is continued irritation or you suspect that Olive may have consumed some or is showing symptoms of esophageal irritation you should visit your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 12, 2018

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Baby

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Domesticated cat

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1 Year

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Itchy Infection

My grandma found a cat that looks like acid was pour between her shoulder blades/above her neck. You can see the cats flesh, it’s all pink/red with “melting” extra brown skin around it. It doesn’t seem to bother her, or hurt her. My grandma put peroxide on it and it started to smell like infection. I personally don’t think it’s her skin will grow back over the wound without a vet seeing her, but my grandma wants to know If there’s anything she can do before she goes to the vet.

June 29, 2018

Baby's Owner

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0 Recommendations

Firstly, peroxide is a bad idea as it will damage the capillaries in the skin and other soft tissue and will delay any healing; however, if there is a large patch of skin missing an examination should be carried out by a Veterinarian to determine whether any surgical intervention is required as well as getting some antibiotics in case of infection. Without examining Baby and seeing the skin margins that we are dealing with, I cannot give you any indication of likelihood of healing. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 30, 2018

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Nala

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Medium haired

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2 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Burning
Smell

My cat got into my neighbors garage and now she has a chemical smell and when I touch her it begins to make my skin burn. I’m not sure what they had in there garage but it was red. I’ve tried to wash her 2 times now and she still smells, but when I pet her now it doesn’t burn my skin.

May 9, 2018

Nala's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Without knowing what she got into, regardless, if it is that caustic to you, imagine what it is doing to her! I think the best solution for now is to continue to wash her until the smell is leaving, and monitor her skin for signs of irritation, or for any breathing problems. If she has any of these signs, she needs to be seen by a veterinarian right away.

May 9, 2018

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Mimi & Kiki

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Don’t know

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4 Years and 7 years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Excessive Meowing

I need help ! I put this flea liquid on my cat between her shoulder blades and today I noticed that they were meowing more than usual I go to look and the hair where I applied the flea stuff is gone and their skin in that patch is yellow What do I do ? I don’t have money to go see a vet.

Oct. 6, 2017

Mimi & Kiki's Owner

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0 Recommendations

It is important to bathe the area with a sensitive shampoo to remove any residue that may be left over; many times it is a case of allowing the medication to work its way out of their system. If other symptoms present like twitching or other neurological symptoms, you should visit your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Oct. 6, 2017

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Tiny Tina (T)

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Calico

dog-age-icon

8 Weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Chemical Burn Sleepy Wont Eat

My kitten got chemical burns on her back paw n small spot in chest.i have been treating and cleaning the wounds. My T wont eat she will drink but wont eat she is i weeks old help. I cant afford another vet bill

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Ninji

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Mixed breed

dog-age-icon

4 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Fever
Licking
Loss Of Hair

We have three cats and they all had fleas. We treated them with over the counter stuff and cleaned our whole house, but the fleas are still around but not as bad. Our cat Ninji was the most affected getting scabs and losing weight so we thought we should give him a flea bath but he’s a sensitive cat and we followed the directions perfectly but the next day he had spots without hair that were scabbed over it’s getting worse with him pulling his hair out I can’t get him to the vet right now what do I do?

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Scarlet

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Cat

dog-age-icon

6 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Hair Loss

I used a seresto collar on my cat. Now she has open areas on her neck. She seems hydrated and isn’t acting different but the area is open and not drying out as she has been groomed by herself and my other cat. Any ideas?

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Loka

dog-breed-icon

Cat

dog-age-icon

12 Weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Licking

I used lavender on my cat i washed it off with dish soap and 4 days later 1 of the 2 cat is in pain licking back what should i do now i tried pedialyte she is running now anything else i can do?

Chemical Burns Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$2,000

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