What is Glow Jewelry Poisoning?
Glow sticks and jewelry are a fun and generally safe product for humans to interact with and our pets also find them entertaining as they are interesting to watch and bend and they tend to flex in interesting ways. Although this interest is a tendency seen in dogs, it is much more a common trait with cats. Glow jewelry contains chemicals that are not toxic, but most certainly are caustic, and if your pet manages to bite through the protective plastic vessel the chemicals can cause pain and irritation, as well as taste vile.
The chemicals that illuminate glow sticks and jewelry are not toxic to your pet, but they will cause irritation if the chemicals contact the mouth or skin. Symptoms like foaming at the mouth and vomiting are two of the ways that your dog can be affected if he chews at the jewelry.
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Symptoms of Glow Jewelry Poisoning in Dogs
Although the chemicals in glow jewelry are non-toxic in general, the ingredients are caustic and can cause pain and irritation if they make contact with the mouth or skin.
- Blood in stool
- Excessive drooling
- Fear response
- Foaming at the mouth
- Glowing lips or mouth
- Irritation in mouth
- Mouth pain
- Pawing at mouth
- Skin irritation
Glow sticks are made up of two chemicals, usually hydrogen peroxide and either dibutyl phthalate or diphenyl oxalate. These two chemicals are separated from each other by a small glass vial. The small glass vial that the hydrogen peroxide is in is broken so that it can mix with the other chemicals, causing the luminescence. Included in the glow stick is often a chemical dye to induce different colors as well.
The most common chemicals to induce the different colors are:
- Blue - Diphenyl anthracene
- Green - Bis(phenylethynyl) anthracene
- Orange - Bis(phenylethynyl) naphthacene, Rubrene, Rhodamine 6G
- Red - Rhodamine B
- Yellow - Chloro and Bis (phenylethynyl) anthracene
- Yellow/green - Tetracene
Causes of Glow Jewelry Poisoning in Dogs
Caustic reactions to dibutyl phthalate or diphenyl oxalate - Dibutyl phthalate and diphenyl oxalate are safe as long as they remain inside the glow tube or glow jewelry. Direct contact to the chemicals can cause a caustic reaction to the skin and mucosa.
Swallowing parts of plastic or glass - Glow tubes and jewelry are encased in plastic, which can become an irritant or obstruction to the gastrointestinal tract when swallowed. There is most often a small glass or hard plastic tube inside to hold the hydrogen peroxide, and if your pet swallows this tube there is an additional risk of cuts and irritation as it travels through the gastrointestinal tract.
Reaction to the hydrogen peroxide - The amount of hydrogen peroxide solution in glow sticks is minimal and the unpleasant flavor and caustic nature of the other chemicals usually prevent your animal from getting to the peroxide. The peroxide in the glow sticks is also much more concentrated, around 35% peroxide, compared to the around 6% to 3% available in over-the-counter peroxide solutions for disinfecting. It is also corrosive and can cause additional injury to eyes, skin and mucous membranes that it contacts.
Diagnosis of Glow Jewelry Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog has chewed on or eaten any of these items, a call to the veterinarian is recommended, but a visit may not be required. The veterinarian will want to get some information from you regarding the type of product chewed, the amount of chemicals or plastics ingested, and if there is any evidence of the tube from the peroxide solution. If any of the chemicals were ingested, have caused damage to the skin, or if there are signs that plastic or glass has been swallowed, your veterinarian may request a visit so that a physical exam can be completed.
If your veterinarian did not get a complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis recently, they will most likely do so during any recommended visits to the office. This will be done to rule out any concurrent disorders or diseases that may be masked by the current symptoms. X-rays, ultrasonography, or contrast dye may be used to check for any obstructions caused by ingesting the plastics or glass that make up the object.
Treatment of Glow Jewelry Poisoning in Dogs
Most of the management of this condition can be handled with home care, although a call to the veterinarian is recommended. Your pet may be extremely agitated directly after coming into contact with the chemicals involved and may even try and run away from the pain and vile taste. You may be able to calm the animal by offering their favorite treat, then you can check their mouth area for damage and wipe away as much of the chemical seepage as possible, taking special care around the gums. Inducing vomiting is not recommended unless advised by your veterinarian. If any of the chemicals have gotten into the eyes it is important to irrigate the eye area with room temperature water for several minutes. It is also important to check other areas of the skin for contamination as the chemicals can cause burns when exposed to the skin as well. Ongoing irritation of the mouth, skin or eyes after home treatment, evidence that glass has been ingested, or excessive vomiting will prompt further investigation.
Recovery of Glow Jewelry Poisoning in Dogs
Bathing your pet after exposure to the corrosive chemicals is recommended as the chemicals can be ingested again if your pet attempts to clean them from their own coat using their tongue. This can cause the entire cycle to start over. Once you have finished bathing your pet, you can check to ensure that the chemicals have been eliminated by turning off the light and checking for any glowing areas. If only small amounts of glass or plastic have been ingested, a bulky diet including starchy foods like bread or canned pumpkin may be recommended to help it pass without causing additional damage.