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What is Electric Cord Bite Injury?

If you witness your dog bite an electric cord, you must consider the event an emergency. What may look like a superficial burn will be at high risk for infection because the damage could be to layers of the skin deeper than what appears. In addition, internal injuries are a high likelihood, with symptoms possibly occurring only hours to days later. Signs of respiratory distress, and singeing of the fur may be visual indications of harm due to electric cord injury that you will notice in the event that your pet chewed an electric cord while you were not at home.

Injury by electric cord bite can range from mild to serious, depending upon the extent of the trauma. Lacerations to the mouth and tongue, as well as life threatening complications like pulmonary edema, can result if your puppy or dog chews on an electric cord.

Electric Cord Bite Injury Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $4,000

Average Cost

$400

Symptoms of Electric Cord Bite Injury in Dogs

Because electricity is a part of our lives that we take for granted, we don’t always consider the dangers that can lie in wait for our pets. Puppies in particular are prone, due to their curious nature, and for the love they have for chewing, which is part of their exploration of the world as they grow. Symptoms of electric cord bite injury can vary, depending on the circumstances of the bite.

  • Oral ulcerations on the tongue, lips, gums, or palate
  • Singeing of the fur
  • Cough
  • Abnormal rapid breathing (tachypnea)
  • Open mouthed breathing
  • Blue tinged mucus membranes (cyanosis)
  • Crackling sound when breathing
  • Excess salivation
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Not wanting to lie down

Types

 

Oral cavity injury, due to biting an electric cord, can range from a superficial burn that will cause soreness and discomfort, to damage that will cause extreme pain along with scar tissue formation. Tissue injury is typically most severe at point of contact. Risk of mortality due to cardiac arrhythmia or noncardiogenic pulmonary edema, because of the electric cord bite, are very real types of complications that occur as well.

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Causes of Electric Cord Bite Injury in Dogs

The extent of injury that your pet will experience will be contingent on the type and intensity of the current, and the duration of contact. 

  • The mucus membranes, exposed to the current when the bite takes place, easily conduct electricity because the moisture of the membranes allows for a high flow of electricity
  • There may be injury to the tongue, where the cord was lying as the current flowed
  • The corners of the lips is a common place for burns to appear
  • There can be cracking or discoloration of the teeth
  • Puppies are the most common electric cord bite victims seen because of their love of chewing, and the fact that their teeth are very sharp
  • Upon biting the cord, burns to the entire oral cavity are possible, and electric current runs through the body
  • Not only is oral injury an issue, lung collapse is an effect
  • Difficulty breathing, due to the contraction of respiratory muscles, often lessens once the pet is removed from the source of electricity
  • Complications of electric cord bite injury appear between immediate effect, and effects becoming known 36 hours later
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Diagnosis of Electric Cord Bite Injury in Dogs

If you witness your dog biting an electric cord and suffering an electrical shock, try to keep presence of mind and turn off the main breaker. You do not want to take a risk with being electrocuted yourself. You could also wear a rubber oven mitt to unplug the cord. Once released from the source of electricity, you may want to try and help your pet at home, but his best chances are with the veterinary team.

In addition, if  you come home and see your dog in respiratory distress with sizzled facial fur or burns on the lips, you must seek immediate veterinary attention for your pet. Even if he appears to have had little or no effect on the outside, complications that you may not be aware of could have taken place. For example, pulmonary edema is dangerous and may only become evident hours after the incident happened.

When you and your beloved pet arrive at the clinic, your veterinarian will immediately begin measures to ensure that your pet is stable and not suffering from unseen effects. 

If he is having trouble breathing, he will be given oxygen, which will help calm him so the examination and assessment can begin. Be sure to tell your veterinarian all of the details that you are aware of, such as how your canine companion reacted physically when he bit the cord, and how long the incident took place until you were able to turn off the electrical source and remove your pet from the situation.

The physical examination will involve looking for lacerations to determine the degree of the burn. It should be noted that the exact extent of the tissue damage may not be evident for 5 to 7 days, because the tissues will go through stages of change before the healing process can begin. 

Your veterinarian will listen to the heart and lungs; crackling sounds are a sign of possible pulmonary edema. If this is suspected, or if there is evidence of a pink frothy foam around the mouth, radiographs of the lungs will be performed. An electrocardiogram will assess the activity of the heart. Treatment will be determined based on the severity of your pet’s condition upon examination.

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Treatment of Electric Cord Bite Injury in Dogs

Chances are your furry family member will need a hospital stay in order for the veterinary team to monitor your pet. Low volume intravenous will be commenced in order to provide medication to counteract the physical shock and the emotional trauma your pet is experiencing. Diuretics will be included in the intravenous mix, to help clear the lungs. Antibiotics will be given to avoid infection in the mucus membranes as the tissues begin the healing process.

Oxygen therapy will most likely be necessary. Pain management, to ease the discomfort your pet may have in the mouth and on the tongue, will be given. He could have muscle soreness as also, if the incident caused muscle contractions.

The length of time your dog needs to be observed in the clinic will be contingent on the extent of injury, and his response to treatment.

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Recovery of Electric Cord Bite Injury in Dogs

When the veterinarian feels your pet is stable enough to return home, you will be asked to provide diligent care in the coming weeks. Your pet may be on a liquid or soft food diet because of the oral wounds. An ointment may be prescribed where possible, and needed. Antibiotics will be a necessity to avoid the development of an infection.

There will be a need for return visits to the clinic, so the veterinary team can check the healing progression of the burn injury. Surgery or skin grafts could be required in serious cases, after healing of the original wound has taken place.

Prevention is key as you look ahead to life with a puppy or dog who likes to chew. Tape up electric cords, and place them out of reach. You may also purchase cord covers as a precaution. Provide your dog with plenty of chew toys in order to satisfy the habit.

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Electric Cord Bite Injury Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $4,000

Average Cost

$400

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Electric Cord Bite Injury Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Dachshund

dog-age-icon

Four months

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

Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Swollen Cheek, Slobering, Bleeding A Little From The Cheek, Caughing Due To His Lungs

Got electrocuted by cord, it wasnt that bad due to when he chewed it right when it popped he managed to pull the cord out of the wall. He didnt need any cpr.

July 29, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello- I would strongly encourage you to take him to your veterinarian because electrocution can cause pulmonary edema or fluid buildup in the lungs. Without prompt treatment this can be fatal in dogs. It would be best to be seen immediately by your vet or a veterinary ER so an exam can be performed and chest radiographs to assess what his lungs look like. I hope they can get him feeling better soon.

July 30, 2020

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Coco

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Maltese

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8 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

Sleepy

June 11 my dog bit a cord he collapsed my sister and I were doing CPR and I gave him mouth to mouth. He then locked his mouth and I really couldn’t give him mouth to mouth anymore. He then started blinking but it took about 4 minutes and my parents took him to the vet and 2 minutes into the drive he finally started to wake up and he threw up and I noticed he had poop on his fur. The vet gave him antibiotics and told my parents that he looked fine and he could come back home. Today he has been sleeping, he barked a few times he has been drinking water, but he doesn’t want anyone around and he isn’t coughing or wheezing. But he has been throwing up liquid and pooping very little and he doesn’t want to eat, he’ll turn away and throw up or he’ll want to throw up. I don’t know if he’ll recover or if I should be worried he doesn’t cry or anything just lays there throws up liquid and poops... what should I do?? Read more at: https://wagwalking.com/condition/electric-cord-bite-injury

June 13, 2018

Coco's Owner


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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

I would call your veterinarian and let them know what is happening with Coco, that he may have further complication from being electrocuted. He may need supportive care to get him through this. I hope that he is okay.

June 13, 2018

what happened?? how is Coco??

July 16, 2018

Mahmood A.

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Brady

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Mini Aussie

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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

Swollen Eyes

My puppy ate two phone chargers that were plugged in as well as bit into my cell phone last night around midnight. He wasn't crying or anything and hasn't been since the accident. I noticed about 12 hours later, that his under eye areas are significantly bigger and more swollen than normal. I have not noticed any burns but he is acting fairly normal but his eyes look swollen.

April 9, 2018

Brady's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Biting into electrical cords from chargers or even worse chewing on the plug may cause swelling, oral burns as well as other issues; without examining Brady I cannot say how severe the swelling is or if there are any other symptoms (pulmonary edema etc…). You should monitor Brady but ideally pop into your Veterinarian for an examination and an x-ray (to look for any wire or other foreign objects). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

April 9, 2018

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Babi-gurl

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Chihuahua

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10 Months

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

None

My 10 month old puppy got to an extension cord, she yelped immediately and came straight to me. She seems to be okay she breathing fine, she's moving around okay, she doesn't act like her mouth hurts, she's just sleepy (but usually is sleepy off and on the whole day anyway)

Dec. 26, 2017

Babi-gurl's Owner


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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Thank you for your email. If you think that Babi-gurl actually bit into the electrical cord, she should see her veterinarian today. Electric burns to the mouth can cause blisters and painful sloughing of the tissues in the mouth long after the actual bite, and can take hours to days to fully appear. She will need to be on pain medications and possibly other medications if those blisters and burns start to appear. If she shows any signs of pain, not wanting to eat, or problems breathing over the next 2-3 days, she needs to see her veterinarian.

Dec. 26, 2017

Thank you very much, I will definitely keep a close eye on her and if there's any signs of burns of soreness I will take her to her vet or emergency after hours!

Dec. 26, 2017

Babi-gurl's Owner

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ICE

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German Anatolian Shepherd

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10 Weeks

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Fair severity

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2 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

i think my puppy might of got a lil shock from chewing on an electrical cord, he appears to be ok, but hes not his playful self right now, he seems to just want to sleep, i tried the ice in his water bowl thin? what do i do, he has a appt to get his puppy shots tomorrow do i tell the vet to make sure nothing is wrong, what do i do?

Oct. 12, 2017

ICE's Owner

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recommendation-ribbon

3320 Recommendations

Electric cord bite injury can be very severe with some injuries taking a day or so to present; burns around the mouth are the most obvious signs owners can see but other injuries like damage to the brain, heart and lungs are all possible. Pulmonary edema is common in cases of electrical cord bite injury and may cause respiratory distress and lethargy; I would recommend visiting your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Oct. 13, 2017

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Harley

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Miniature Pinscher

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One 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

Electrical Shock

My pup is about a year old she is also pregnant about a month along. She is small maybe like a min pin size. How do i know if the puppies have died other then going to the vets. She has a foul smell wont allow me to open her mouth and she's very clingy and sleepy. I know i need to take her to the vet but just wondering if she would or have lost her batch of puppies. She screwed thru a brand new exstention cord was flopping around on the floor for a few min.

Electric Cord Bite Injury Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $4,000

Average Cost

$400

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