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What is Battery Poisoning?

Batteries are used to power everything from kids toys, to cell phones, to hearing aids. They are often small and this makes them easy to chew and swallow. This can be exceptionally dangerous to your pet. The alkaline in most batteries causes a condition of the mucous membranes in the mouth and gastrointestinal system called liquefaction necrosis causing deeply penetrating ulcers that form over several hours. If your pet chews on or ingests a battery seek veterinary attention immediately. It is not recommended to induce vomiting if your pet has ingested a battery as it can cause additional corrosion and pain in the esophagus, and increase the chances of airway obstruction.

Batteries can cause serious damage when chewed or ingested and must be kept out of reach. If your dog has chewed on or eaten a battery it should be treated as an emergency.

Battery Poisoning Average Cost

From 63 quotes ranging from $200 - $5,000

Average Cost

$400

Symptoms of Battery Poisoning in Dogs

Some of the symptoms of battery poisoning occur immediately upon ingestion. Other symptoms may not be apparent for several hours. Ulcers that are seen shortly after contact with the alkaline materials may continue to worsen over the next twelve hours or so as the tissues soften due to a process called liquefaction necrosis.

  • Abdominal pain
  • Black, tarry feces
  • Difficulty swallowing 
  • Excessive drooling
  • Fever/hyperthermia
  • Increase in white blood cells
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Mouth pain
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Ulcers on tongue
  • Vomiting

Types

There are several types of battery that can cause symptoms if punctured or ingested. The most common types of battery that dogs get into are batteries that most people have around the house. 

Cylindrical 

- This battery is probably the most common battery we think of and the most common one for a dog to be able to chew. Some cylindrical batteries employ alkaline and carbon zinc materials while others are the lithium variety. The burns from lithium batteries can be particularly severe, but the alkaline batteries are more likely to be damaged by stomach acid, possibly leading to heavy metal poisoning. 

Button battery 

- These are usually small batteries used in smaller electronics like cameras, hearing aids and watches. These batteries present an extra risk as they can allow an electrical current to pass to nearby tissues, causing current-induced necrosis. One 3-volt lithium button battery can cause severe necrosis to the esophagus or gastrointestinal system in less than half an hour. Some button batteries also have cadmium and mercury, both of which can prove toxic to your pet.

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Causes of Battery Poisoning in Dogs

There are several elements in batteries that cause them to be dangerous:

Alkaline material

  • Most household batteries contain alkaline material that can cause liquefaction necrosis which creates deeply penetrating ulcers that form over several hours

Acidic material

  • Car batteries are often lead-acid batteries
  • In the unlikely event that your dog chews through the casing of a car battery, the acid could cause severe burns to the mouth and eyes
  • The burns are not as deeply penetrating as the ulcers caused by an alkaline material

Heavy metals

  • There are several heavy metals that are used in batteries that can be toxic to your pet
  • Toxic metals that can be found in batteries include lead, zinc, mercury, cadmium and cobalt 

Electric current

  • This is of particular concern with disc and button batteries
  • The way that these batteries are formed allows an electrical current to cause necrosis to nearby tissues when it gets lodged in the esophagus or as it travels through the gastrointestinal system
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Diagnosis of Battery Poisoning in Dogs

If you suspect your dog has ingested a battery it is imperative to contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. Your veterinarian will get a history of the symptoms from you and perform a physical examination. If you have any portion of the battery that has not been ingested bring that with you to the veterinarian’s office. The physical examination will pay special attention to the mouth and throat area to see if any ulcers or spots of liquefaction necrosis have developed and to see if there is any black powder in the mouth from a punctured battery. Even if your veterinarian does not find any ulcers during the initial appointment, they can still develop over the next twelve hours or so. X-rays will be recommended to check and see if any part of the battery is still inside the patient and to determine if it is intact or has been fractured. As the symptoms of battery poisoning can mimic other types of corrosive poison your veterinarian may need to test for other toxins as well to ensure the correct treatment is provided, particularly if the battery can’t be located.

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Treatment of Battery Poisoning in Dogs

The treatment is going to depend on several factors such as the amount of time since ingestion, the type of battery that was ingested, where it is in the gastrointestinal system and whether or not the battery has been damaged by chewing. Vomiting should NOT be induced as it can increase the corrosive damage to the esophagus and gastrointestinal system as well as increasing the chances of esophageal obstruction. Activated charcoal should also be avoided as it may increase the chances of vomiting and the toxic ingredients involved will not bind to it. If the battery was chewed in any way, the first course of action your veterinarian will take is to judiciously rinse the mouth area and any skin exposed to caustic ingredients. Medication may also be given to add a layer of protection within the gastrointestinal system. If the battery or battery fragments are found by the x-ray imaging they will usually be removed by endoscopy, which allows the veterinarian to view the esophagus and stomach as well. If the battery cannot be removed by endoscopy, surgery may be required.

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Recovery of Battery Poisoning in Dogs

Most patients should be kept off of food for 12-24 hours to allow the system to heal. GI protectants and antacids may be recommended at this point as they promote healing to the tissues of the gastrointestinal system. A temporary change in diet may also be recommended, generally to a bland, high-fiber regimen. Antibiotics are often required and the full course should be taken as prescribed by your veterinarian, and pain medications will be prescribed as needed. Your canine should continue to be monitored to ensure that symptoms of mercury or heavy metal poisoning are spotted if they develop. If symptoms of theses types of toxicity do develop contact your veterinarian for further treatment immediately.

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Battery Poisoning Average Cost

From 63 quotes ranging from $200 - $5,000

Average Cost

$400

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Battery Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Lab beagle mix - 50 pounds

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Two years

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Unknown severity

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3 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

None

My dog got into a pack of AA alkaline batteries while we were gone. All batteries are accounted for. On battery has one puncture hole and has a very slow leak. All other batteries are fully intact. She does not have any sores or irritation in her mouth. I wasn’t sure if there are any specific symptoms I should look for or a period of time that she should be monitored. She likely got into them about an hour and a half ago.

July 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello Thank you for your question. Battery acid can be caustic to mucosal surfaces, so it is best to check your pup's mouth for any lesions over the next 2-3 days. Monitor for salivation and inappetence. If you notice these signs, seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Good luck.

July 24, 2020

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Mona

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Shih Tzu

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6 Months

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Panting

Hi, My 5-6 month old Shih tzu had eaten a battery yesterday and immediately gave her some milk but she doesn't act any different but she has a little black line on her upper gums but we can't go to the Vet right now since it's 8PM right now and we've got no 24hour vets. What should I do? And what should I look for?

July 30, 2018

Mona's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Batteries can be extremely corrosive to the GI tract. If Mona is doing well, it would be a good idea to have her seen as soon as your veterinarian is open to have x-rays and see where the battery is. If she is vomiting, lethargic, or uncomfortable, you may need to find an overnight veterinarian.

July 30, 2018

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Sydney/Lily

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Blue Heeler

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1 Year

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

None

I found a AAA battery in my room that was really chewed up. I have two blue heelers so i can't tell which one ate it. They have been acting normal besides one throwing up. But the bile was yellow.

July 18, 2018

Sydney/Lily's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

If both dogs are seemingly normal, you should keep a close eye on both of them for the time being and look inside their mouths to look for any signs of chemical burns or any other issues; it would be good to check in with your Veterinarian just in case as I cannot give you any assurances without examining them myself. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 19, 2018

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Bucky

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Border Collie

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1 Year

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

None

My dog got into a mini fan I don't know if he got tho battery or not but it was 2 aa batteries. No sign of cases or anything. It was at least 5 hours ago but could have been yesterday. No burning of the gums or anything he is eating drinking and acting his normal self. Has runny poo but that is not strange for him. Should I worry

July 15, 2018

Bucky's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

If you suspect that Bucky may have consumed batteries or even plastic fragments from the mini fan you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination to be on the safe side; batteries may leak at anytime when pass through the gastrointestinal tract and any plastic may cause trauma and pain when being passed. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 16, 2018

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Echo Torres

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miniature pinscher chihuahua

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6 Months

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

My dog chewed up a AAA Battery maybe like an hour ago. He seems fine but I know symptoms present about 12 hours later. We gave him some milk but can’t afford to take him to the vet is there anything else that we can do for him? I’m worried that it could get worse and I don’t know what to do for him.

July 14, 2018

Echo Torres' Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

If Echo did not swallow the battery, he may suffer burns to his mouth and throat over the next few days. If he swallowed the battery, he can have burns throughout his GI tract, or the battery may cause a foreign body that needs to be removed. There may be nothing that you can do for him at home, and he may need medical help. If he is drooling, vomiting, not eating, or seems painful, he should see a veterinarian. Most clinics do offer CareCredit to help with unexpected expenses.

July 14, 2018

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Beast

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pit mix

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3 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

Diarrhea
Shivering
Sleepy

Thurs or fri morning ( I can’t remember) my son put a small toy in my dogs cage. I didn’t realize until after the dog had chewed the toy. Without thinking I took the toy out of the cage and threw it away. Yesterday morning I woke up to my dog having diarrhea in his cage. Other than that he seemed fine. He ate his food and had diarrhea two more times after that but it seemed to be getting better. Over the night he didn’t have any accidents. This morning after he ate he was ok. Then we went to a party and came home later and he had diarrhea in his cage again. It was more solid than before. After that we found him curled up in my room shivering and he has been shivering ever seen in and off. He seems sleepy. He is still eating and drinking. No drooling. Now that he is sick and I was thinking about what could have made him sick, I am thinking maybe he got a button battery out of the small toy. Not sure. It’s been at least 48hrs since he would have ate the battery.

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Bailey

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Labrador Retriever

dog-age-icon

6 Months

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

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

None

I have a 6mo old lab and a 9mo old shiba I don’t know if any of the liquid in the battery got in their mouth, I’ve washed out the mouth, I know neither one of them ate any part of the battery and there is no ulcers in the mouth yet it’s only been a few hours.

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Rusty

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Kelpie

dog-age-icon

8 Months

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

None

My 8 month old pup had just chewed a battery and it had a hole inside of it I have rinsed his mouth with water and gave him some milk I don’t know what to expect no symptoms yet

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Luna

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pitbull boxer mix

dog-age-icon

6 Months

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

My puppy chewed up my TV remote the night before today and she didn’t puncture the battery to where there was acid coming out of it but she did chew on it a little. I flushed her mouth and Ive been checking for any signs that some acid did get into her since and i haven’t seen any. She’s been her normal self during the day, then i noticed she had a ring worm mark so i’ve had her away from my other dog and everything else but since i put her away she’s been super lazy. Usually she’ll bark and go crazy to get out of the cage, especially if i’m sitting near her but she just keeps laying down and going right to sleep. She’s eating, drinking and using the bathroom fine but i’m just concerned about my girl

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Diamond, Chewie, Licorice, Cassidy

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German Shepherd

dog-age-icon

6 Months

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

Non

We have multiple dogs, four of which are puppies about 6 months old. One of them dropped a AA battery on me with a hole in it. Flushed her mouth out with water and made sure they all drank a little milk. They are all still playing and eating. There's no signs of burns or redness in their mouths. They all seem normal but it's only been about half an hour. It was an older battery, probably an old remote battery that was forgotten about. Will they be ok?? They are mixed breed dogs.

Battery Poisoning Average Cost

From 63 quotes ranging from $200 - $5,000

Average Cost

$400