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What is Corrosive Material Injury?

A corrosive material injury can affect your dog in a variety of ways.  The chemical that burns your dog and the severity of the injury will directly affect his treatment and recovery process.  If he has an injury from inhaling or ingesting the material, his symptoms will be related to his esophagus and gastrointestinal tract.  If your dog received a contact burn, it will affect his fur and layers of skin.  The depth and location of the burn will depend on where your dog made contact with the material and how corrosive it is.  His treatment process can be extended if his injury is severe.  His prognosis of recovery will depend on the severity of the burn, the location of the burn, and how quickly treatment was sought.

An injury from a corrosive material can be a life threatening condition.  If this happens to your dog, you need to treat it as a medical emergency.

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Symptoms of Corrosive Material Injury in Dogs

Symptoms of corrosive material injury can vary greatly but may include:

Symptoms of Ingestion 

  •  Excessive thirst
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Coughing 
  • Dyspnea
  • Swelling of the throat
  • Laryngeal paralysis
  • Ulceration of the mouth, throat and stomach 

Symptoms from Inhalation

  • Dyspnea
  • Bluish mucous membranes
  • Bluish tinge to skin 
  • Nasal discharge
  • Coughing 
  • Laryngeal paralysis

General Symptoms 

  • Depression
  • Tachypnea
  • Abnormal pulmonary auscultation
  • Mucopurulent discharge
  • Anorexia
  • Lack of energy
  • Change in bark

Injury to the Skin 

  • Red, burned areas
  • Inflammation
  • Tissue granulation 
  • Gray/white tissue
  • Black scabs

Types

Your dog can obtain an injury from a corrosive material by ingesting it, inhaling it, or coming into contact with it.  If he ingests it, it will lead to injury of the esophagus, stomach, and possibly more parts of the digestive tract.  It can lead to interference with your dog’s eating habits and affect his ability to eat properly.  If he comes into contact with it, he can receive a chemical burn wherever his skin touches the material. The severity will depend on the length of contact time and how corrosive the material is.

Causes of Corrosive Material Injury in Dogs

Medications are one form of ingestible material that can cause corrosive burns within the throat and digestive tract.  Ingested chemicals with high acidic, alkaline or oxidant properties can lead to the corrosive injury.  Medications and other chemicals can also lead to contact burns on your dog as well.  It does not even have to be medicinal in origin either.  Your dog may come into contact with leaking battery acid, certain types of cleaners such as bleach, some dishwashing detergent, and other chemicals that can be found around your home.

Diagnosis of Corrosive Material Injury in Dogs

Diagnosing a corrosive injury in your dog can typically be done by physical exam alone.  While it may be obvious has a burn on his skin or is experiencing mouth discomfort, she will want to check him over entirely for other symptoms.  Your veterinarian will perform a full physical exam on your dog when you arrive for a visit.  She will also want to collect a verbal history from you in regards to when his symptoms began, if they have changed or progressed in severity, if you have tried treating his condition with anything over the counter, and similar questions.

She will note all abnormalities in her findings.  If his heart rhythm is abnormal, your veterinarian may want to connect him to an EKG.  This will allow for constant reading of the heart beat, and the vet will visually see exactly which beat of the heart is abnormal, and monitor for changes.  

If your dog received a contact injury from the corrosive material, your veterinarian will closely examine the wound.  Your dog may need to be sedated in order to give him some relief from the pain while your veterinarian clip and cleans the area.  Once cleaned up, she will be able to see how deep the burn goes and the size of the affected area.  

Your veterinarian may want to run blood work to check for any changes in the blood levels.  The inhalation or ingestion of corrosive materials can change the blood chemistry levels.  She will want to be sure of the changes in order to correct them.

Treatment of Corrosive Material Injury in Dogs

If your dog is having trouble breathing or has a bluish tinge to him, your veterinarian will need to stabilize him as soon as he arrives.  She will start him on oxygen therapy if needed.  He may receive oxygen via flow by, mask, or oxygen cage depending on his need.  She may also administer a bronchodilator if needed to relax the throat and lungs to allow more oxygen into his system.

If your dog has burned his throat or nose from inhalation or ingestion, medications will be administered to help with the pain.  She may also administer a type of ingestible medication that will coat your dog’s throat to give him some relief.  If he has a burn somewhere on his body, medications will be given to be applied directly to the burn to promote healing and offer an analgesic effect.  Wraps and protective layering may be applied to his burned areas to prevent him from scratching or somehow hurting himself.

Therapies will be administered in response to your dog’s symptoms.  There are medications your dog will receive to help his heart rhythm return to normal.  If his fever is too high, cooling methods will begin in the form of medications and cool cloths applied to his body.  If he has not been interested in food, she will administer an appetite stimulant.

Recovery of Corrosive Material Injury in Dogs

The severity of your dog’s burn will directly affect his recovery.  If the burn is internal, recovery will vary due to your dog’s willingness or refusal to eat and keep himself strong.  The same goes for an external burn but also have to consider where the burn occurred and how it will affect his lifestyle.  For example, if the burn occurred on his eye or paws, his life will be altered.  Even if you seek treatment as soon as possible after your dog received the burn and your follow your veterinarian’s directions, his prognosis of recovery can vary from poor to good.