Jump to section

What are Chemical Burns?

Dogs can get chemical burns fairly easy by eating or exposing themselves to things they are not supposed to since they do not know any better. Just like children, you must keep toxic substances away from your pet. For example, bleach, fabric detergents, and other cleaners are common causes of chemical burns in dogs. In addition, chemical burns may be hard to recognize because your dog’s fur can hide any visible signs. Most often, these types of burns are second or third degree, erosive, and can cause necrosis, which is tissue death. If the chemical is able to be absorbed into the bloodstream, the results may be much worse and can cause a heart attack, respiratory arrest, shock, and death. If you suspect your dog has a chemical burn of any kind, rinse the area with cool water and call the veterinarian right away for an appointment.

A chemical burn in dogs is a serious condition caused by corrosive substances (either an acid or an alkali) like oxidizers, solvents, and other toxic substances. The burns may be on the skin, eyes, in the lungs, or in the digestive system depending on whether it is a solid, liquid, or gas. For instance, if your dog drinks a liquid chemical, the burns will be in the throat, esophagus, intestines, and stomach. The severity of the chemical burn depends on the chemical strength, whether it was inhaled, ingested, or absorbed into the skin, if the skin has any cuts or abrasions, and the area of the body that is exposed. Even if the burn seems small, some chemicals can cause damage to the deep tissues and affect the internal organs. This is an extremely dangerous condition that can cause shock and death if not treated properly.

Chemical Burns Average Cost

From 210 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,200

Symptoms of Chemical Burns in Dogs

The signs of chemical burns are varied depending on the chemical and the type of transmission. Typical side effects of chemical burns in dogs are:

  • Appetite loss
  • Drooling
  • Swelling of the tongue
  • Pawing the mouth
  • Swallowing more than usual
  • Black skin
  • Irritation (redness and pain) of the area
  • Red eyes
  • Blistered or dead skin
  • Coughing
  • Gasping for breath
  • Rapid or irregular heart rate
  • Head pressing
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness
  • Seizures or muscle tremors
  • Shock (cold paws, weak pulse, pale gums)
  • Death

 Types

  • 1st degree – Red skin
  • 2nd degree – Dry and peeling skin
  • 3rd degree – Loss of several deeper layers of skin
  • 4th degree – Death of the deep tissues
arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Chemical Burns in Dogs

  • Acids like ammonia, battery acid, oxidizers, aspirins, insect repellents (boric acid), and many other cleaners.
  • Alkali such as lye, lime, metal cleaners, degreasers, and other cleaning agents.
  • Bleach
  • Concrete mix
  • Motor oil
  • Fertilizers
  • Drain cleaners
  • Salt
  • Pool chlorinators
arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Chemical Burns in Dogs

If you think your dog has a chemical burn, whether it is inhaled, ingested, or on the skin, you need to take your dog to see a veterinary professional. Some burns do not look bad, but may be doing more damage than you think and can affect the inner layers of the tissue and even cause damage to your pet’s vital organs. The veterinarian will first do a comprehensive physical examination, which includes skin and coat condition, body temperature, weight and height, reflexes, pupil reaction time, heart rate, blood pressure, breath sounds, and respiration rate. An electrocardiogram (EKG) will be done to check the electrical function of the heart.

Also, the veterinarian will use an endoscope (lighted hollow tube) to look at the throat, esophagus, and upper airway, checking for inflammation and erosion. Small tools can be inserted through the endoscope to remove dead skin and apply medication, if necessary. Some laboratory tests that are needed include a blood urea nitrogen (BUN), packed cell volume (PCV), complete blood count (CBC), serum chemical analysis, kidney and liver enzyme levels, and urinalysis. The veterinarian will also need to use x-rays (radiographs), an ultrasound, CT scans, and maybe an MRI to see how deep the damage goes.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Chemical Burns in Dogs

Treatment for chemical burns depends on the extent of the burns, the chemical agent that caused the burns, and your dog’s health. The typical treatment for chemical burns includes detoxification, fluid and oxygen therapy, medications for pain relief and infection, and possibly hospitalization for observation.

Detoxification

This step includes rinsing the area that has the burns and removing any dead skin that is involved. Your pet will usually be sedated for this because it may be very painful. If the burns are from an acid, baking soda and water will be used. If the cause was an alkali, vinegar and water will be used.

Therapy

Your dog will be given intravenous (IV) fluids to prevent dehydration and oxygen to help with breathing.

Medication

Antibiotics are needed to prevent infection, pain medications (intravenous and topical) will be used to ease the pain, and corticosteroids for inflammation.

Hospitalization

If the veterinarian feels it is necessary, your dog will stay overnight for observation and continued fluids. This is only required for severe burns.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Recovery of Chemical Burns in Dogs

Prognosis for your pet is good if you get treatment before shock sets in. Once your dog is allowed to go home, you will need to continue observation and keep the affected area dry and sterile. Call the veterinarian if you have any complications, such as concern over recovery rate or condition of healing skin.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Chemical Burns Average Cost

From 210 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,200

arrow-up-icon

Top

Chemical Burns Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Lab mix

dog-age-icon

5 months

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

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Redness And Spots Of Fur Coming Off

I noticed today my puppy had some spots under his chin area where some fur was gone. It looked like he had irritated it by scratching but I remembered I washed him with gain dish soap the other day and think it might be a chemical burn

Aug. 12, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It is difficult to say without seeing him, but that looks moist, and may be a bacterial infection. Those can spread quite quickly, and it would probably be best to have him seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. They will be able to examine him and see what might be going on, and get antibiotics or other medications that he may need. I hope that all goes well for him!

Aug. 13, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Tina

dog-breed-icon

German Shepherd

dog-age-icon

10 Months

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

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Drooling
Slow Breathing
Won’T Drink

My mom and I were putting chemical into our RO water system and some spilt on the ground and my dog licked some of it and it burnt her tongue and her mouth. I don’t know how to treat it or what to do. She won’t let us get into her mouth and she won’t drink any water. I’m really scared and I don’t know what to do...

Sept. 13, 2018

Tina's Owner

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Horus

dog-breed-icon

Unknown

dog-age-icon

3 Months

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

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Hair Loss

Our Horus was rescued as a puppy and has a significant amount of scar tissue on his rump that is suspected to be from a chemical burn. He is only 3 months old and is going to be a big big dog. Knowing that his skin is going to need to stretch and grow, how can we support his skin health so there is minimal discomfort to him as he gets bigger?

Sept. 2, 2018

Horus' Owner

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Tara

dog-breed-icon

Alsatian

dog-age-icon

2 Years

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

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Scabs Smells

What treatment is available for severe acid burns on a dogs skin with scabs already formed and an infection underneath of the scabs. Tara has been subject to animal cruelty. She was found with severe burns to what seems like acid attack which had bitten through her flash with parts of her spine open and scabs over the skin. Her entire back from her neck down to her tail had black scabs with a bad odour. Her ears were also cut off and the wounds were fresh. It appeared that she was given no treatment was given no treatment weeks after the attack.

Aug. 10, 2018

Tara's Owner


answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

1611 Recommendations

That is very sad for Tara, and I'm glad that you are able to give her care. She will need ongoing veterinary care for those wounds, including wound care, antibiotics, pain management, and possible surgery to repair those areas. Since I can't see how severe the wounds are, it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian of you haven't already. I hope that she is okay.

Aug. 10, 2018

Thank you for your advice. She indeed is on the long list of the saddest animal cruelty in Iran and unfortunatly, I was not able to care for her because she lived and died in Southern Iran. I understand when they finally managed to take her to a vet he scraped all the scabs off her entire back. She had a 4th grade burn covering 3/4 of her body, her spine was visible and the acid had bitten deeply onto her muscles and ligaments (photos are on the shelters web site and are horrendous). After this aggressive procedure she was left to be looked after in a dirty shelter with no access to IV to prevent dehydration and oxygen treatment and professional nursing care. She was given some antibiotics, pain management meds and when they changed her dressing they anisthisied her. She died one or two days after this aggressive treatment. Their are many questions for her so called treatment but of the most important I wondered if it was necessary to scrape off all the infected scabs covering a large area of her body? And did she need a blood test or any other tests before going through such a procedure to identify if she will be able to survive it?

Aug. 10, 2018

Tara's Owner

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Apollo

dog-breed-icon

German Shepherd/Lab mix

dog-age-icon

10 Months

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

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Redness
Hair Loss
Scaly Skin

My dog has a burn on his shoulder where he is losing hair and his skin has started to get dry and scaly. It's a small spot, but I think it is from apple cider vinegar that I wiped him down with during his last bath. I always do this to prevent fleas and give him a shiny coat. Unfortunately, I am unable to drive for medical reasons and don't have anyone to take me to the vet. I can however take the bus to a pharmacy or something. Is there some way to treat it at home myself? I should mention that I have been putting aloe vera on it and just today I looked at it and it looks like it's starting to form a scab. He is not bothered when I touch it and he has not tried to scratch or lick at it. It is not a large area, I would say about the size of one of his front paws.

Aug. 7, 2018

Apollo's Owner

answer-icon

recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Without examining the area I cannot say for certain what the cause is; however you should bathe Apollo with a mild dog shampoo (don’t use anything else) and bathe the affected area with a dilute antiseptic (not peroxide) twice per day and apply a thin layer of Neosporin over the area too. If there is no improvement, you should visit a Veterinarian regardless to determine if there is an underlying cause. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 7, 2018

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Lucy

dog-breed-icon

chihuahua mix

dog-age-icon

3 Years

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

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Redness
Pain
Lethargy
Dragging Butt On Floor
Oozing

Lucy has been dragging her butt on the ground and attempting to lick the area for 2-3 days. This morning I found that she had feces stuck to her tail and around her anus. Gave her a bath and found an oozing spot on her lower stomach where there was feces. Applied antibiotic ointment. She was at the vet yesterday for her shots, and he didn’t notice it! I can’t afford another vet visit. Help!

dog-name-icon

Nike

dog-breed-icon

Jack Russell/Boston Terrier

dog-age-icon

4 Years

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

Mild severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Red Eye Seems Wet

My dog a Jack Russel/Boston Terrior mix, was right behind my boyfriend while he was using aluminum brightener cleaning his truck and he said that he thinks some dropped in his eye because the dog was staring right up at him when he tripped backward over him. Now his eye is red and he keeps pawing at that same eye as well as he periodically squints from it an seems to be some oozing starting to appear. What can i do to help him? I literally dont have any cash to take him to the vet even if i emptied my whole bank account. Is there anything I can try at home? I feel awful for him>

dog-name-icon

Zoey

dog-breed-icon

German Shepherd

dog-age-icon

3 Years

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

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Loss Of Weight

My dog has chemical burns on he paws and her stomach she is also very lethargic and is not being her self and our veterinarian won't help us with her please tell me what I can do to care for her.

Chemical Burns Average Cost

From 210 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,200