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.
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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
- 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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Electric Cord Bite Injury Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
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)
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!
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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?
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My dog chewed through an electric cord he is beING quieter than usual but he still plays and has a healthy appetite. He acted like someone beat him and just seems scars. Should I take him in the vets office tomorrow?
Electric cord bite injuries give dogs quite a shock as I am sure you can imagine which can lead to a change in behaviour. Any type of electrocution in animals should be treated as an emergency and Veterinary attention should be sought immediately as complications can take time to present themselves. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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