What is Gasoline Poisoning?
Gasoline poisoning in dogs occurs when dogs come in contact with aliphatic hydrocarbons, which are commonly known as butane, methane, propane, and gasoline. Gasoline is a readily-used substance in which dogs can become into contact with, especially if it is not stored properly in the home of the dog or on the property in which the dog resides. Garages, outdoor sheds, workshops, and around vehicles and lawnmowers are places where dogs can come into contact with gasoline. Dogs should also be watched in gas station parking lots, car repair shops, and on unfamiliar grounds.
Whether the gasoline is consumed, inhaled, or has had contact with the skin, illness can occur anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours after contact, depending on the mode of contact. Dogs can come into direct contact with this harmful substance either inside or outside of the home where gasoline has not been properly stored or spilled. If a dog is outdoors or in a garage area and steps on a spill or a leak from a container, the dog may lick his paws when grooming and become exposed in that way. Another means of exposure can come from the dog’s curiosity of an open container. If a container of gasoline is open in a room without ventilation, the dog can inhale the fumes. Gasoline is highly vaporized and is a hydrocarbon with a low molecular weight, which makes it quite toxic when inhaled alone, and has a high level of irritant which can immediately affect pulmonary function.
Gasoline poisoning in dogs is a result of the ingestion of gasoline, either by inhalation or by consumption. This type of poisoning in dogs can be caused by many forms of aliphatic hydrocarbons, such as gasoline.
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Symptoms of Gasoline Poisoning in Dogs
Symptoms of gasoline poisoning in dogs can occur immediately after ingestion. Specific symptoms and severity depend on the quantity of gasoline consumed. Symptoms include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Rapid breathing
- Ulcers in the mouth
- Shaking of the head
- Pawing at the mouth area
- Discoloration of the skin
- Loss of appetite
- Lesions on the skin
- Pain in the abdomen
- Loss of motion
- Irregular or rapid heartbeat
Gasoline poisoning has a higher chance of occurring if the dog is living in an environment where gasoline is not properly stored or has accidentally leaked. Once taken to the veterinarian, it is very helpful to the treatment of your dog if you suspect or know that your dog came into contact with gasoline. Differential diagnoses of gasoline poisoning can include:
- Ingestion of ethanol
- Ethylene glycol poisoning
Causes of Gasoline Poisoning in Dogs
The cause of gasoline poisoning begins with the dog consuming or inhaling gasoline. Once in the dog’s system, gasoline:
- May aspirate into the lungs
- May dissolve within the lipids in the fats and remain stored in the tissues that possess high amounts of lipids, including the liver or nervous tissue
- May be metabolized within the body into a byproduct that is further toxic, such as benzene
Diagnosis of Gasoline Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog has any of the symptoms of gasoline poisoning, or if you suspect your dog has gotten into this chemical, it is important to immediately call your veterinarian. Once you have arrived at the veterinarian’s clinic, he will immediately assess the dog, looking at all clinical signs. He will ask questions about the dog’s history and the probability of him ingesting or inhaling gasoline. The dog may also have gasoline odor around his muzzle area or on his paws
The veterinarian will perform tests on the contents of the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, liver, and lungs and will perform a chemical analysis on the samples to identify any hydrocarbons in the tissues. The identification of the hydrocarbon, or gasoline, in addition to the clinical signs the dog is showing will lead the veterinarian to a definitive diagnosis of gasoline poisoning.
Treatment of Gasoline Poisoning in Dogs
Once the diagnosis of gasoline toxicity has been made, there are several procedures your veterinarian may conduct to help the dog. Treatment methods include:
Releasing Gas Pressure
The veterinarian will need to insert a tube into the stomach if the dog has any bloat. This procedure is quite risky because the stomach tube may force the contents through the lining of the abdomen and that work is contained within, which is known as the peritoneal cavity. This can result in aspiration.
The dog may require oxygen and ventilation if he is suffering from an acute respiratory condition due to the inhalation of gasoline fumes. If this is done, the ventilator will need to be replaced frequently due to the inhalation of volatile hydrocarbons.
If the dog is suffering from a bacterial infection in the respiratory tract, he may be given an antibiotic of broad-spectrum form. The aspirated contents of the stomach that are mixed with the dangerous hydrocarbons can cause pathogens to enter the lungs.
If your dog is suffering from gasoline poisoning on the skin, the veterinarian will remove the toxic agent using an abundant amount of cool water and soap or another type of mild cleanser.
Recovery of Gasoline Poisoning in Dogs
Once your dog has successfully been treated for gasoline toxicity, the prognosis is good. In some serious cases of severe damage to the lungs, prognosis is very guarded and often poor. Recovery depends on your dog and the severity of the poisoning. After being monitored for approximately 24 hours, your veterinarian may allow you to take your dog home. He will give you detailed guidelines on how to care for your dog at home and will alert you as to what to watch for in terms of symptoms and behavioral changes. He will also want to see the dog soon after treatment to be sure he is making progress in healing properly. It is important to remove access to gasoline to prevent this from happening. Be sure to properly store all gasoline, either in a garage where the dog cannot enter, or in another storage facility.
Gasoline Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My husband used unleaded gas to kill grass. I noticed that one area is where my dog can reach. All of a sudden my Beagle has dropped weight, extremely thirsty, & is just not himself but is still eating. Could the 2 be connected? He says he did it after they had gone in for the night.
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My dog inhaled gasoline fumes and had some gasoline on her paw. 5 hours later she began to loose balance and became disoriented. She vomited once. It seems that she got gasoline poisoning, but not severe. 12 hours later her unbalanced walking improved, but not all the way. It does not show any other poisoning symptoms, except loss balance and disorientation.
In any case when poisoning is suspected, I always recommend visiting a Veterinarian for preventative treatments (stomach pump, activated charcoal, intravenous fluids). Gasoline contains other chemicals which are added to prevent freezing etc... which may cause other clinical signs. Again, I would recommend going to your Veterinarian for a general check up; but if you choose to wait, monitor food and drink intake and her sense of balance (the sense of balance may take some time to return to normal). Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
My husband uses regular gas and Desiel fuel when he burns everyone ones in a while our dog a Chinese pug will get into and eat from the fire pit and now she went stop throwing up.
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