What is Household Cleaners Poisoning?
Pets have a naturally curious nature that can sometimes put them in danger. Accidental ingestion, inhalation or dermal exposure to products kept around the house for cleaning purposes can occur when our dogs use their noses and mouths to explore. With household cleaners such as bleach, the consumption of the liquid or the inhalation of fumes can cause irritation of the respiratory tract, eyes, throat, and skin. Injuries like lesions and burns can result with an exposure to cleaners containing corrosives. Symptoms of household cleaners poisoning can range from mild to serious with signs such as diarrhea, excess salivation, abdominal pain and mild to severe vomiting. Many poisoning agents work very rapidly; immediate veterinary care is essential for a positive outcome.
Household cleaners can present a danger to our pets when inhaled or consumed in any amount. These products typically contain bleaches and corrosive ingredients which can cause serious ulceration, burns, or irritation to the mucus membranes, gastrointestinal system, respiratory passageways, eyes, and skin.
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Symptoms of Household Cleaners Poisoning in Dogs
The symptoms of household cleaners poisoning can be mild with a light exposure, ranging to extreme with an ingestion, dermal or ocular exposure, or inhalation. Symptoms from two types of cleaners are listed here.
- Difficulty breathing
- Abdominal pain
- Trouble swallowing
- Blue mucus membranes
- Redness of skin and tissue damage
- Inflammation and sores on the eyes
- Inflammation of the oral cavities
Bleaches (extent of symptoms will depend on how much is ingested or inhaled)
- Vomiting and retching
- Excessive drooling
- Watery eyes
- Swollen eyelids
- Irritated red skin
- You may hear lung sounds
Your pet may vocalize the pain and there will likely be burns and ulcerations where you cannot see, such as the throat and esophagus.
Household cleaners can include toilet bowl cleaner, pine oil, drain cleaner, rust and calcium removers, and disinfectants.
Causes of Household Cleaners Poisoning in Dogs
- Household cleaners can come in a concentrated form, making the damage they inflict very severe
- Solids (like granular drain openers) stick to the skin and membranes causing localized damage and burns
- Liquids can be ingested in large amounts and can also be aspirated causing airway injury and aspiration pneumonia
- Many toxic substances are rapidly absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract
- Canines can be exposed dermally and then inflict further damage by grooming the poisonous product off the fur
- Inhalation of a household cleaner can produce visible signs such as difficulty breathing but may also cause hidden signs (like extensive fluid buildup in the lungs) that may not become evident until serious damage is done
Diagnosis of Household Cleaners Poisoning in Dogs
If you suspect that your pet has come into contact with a household cleaner, having him seen by a veterinarian is necessary. Even though your dog may not be exhibiting signs of distress, he may not be displaying the true effects, or the damage has not yet reached the full extent. Many products cause immediate damage but in same cases, for example inhalation of a cleaner, the effects of the poison continue to work into the day after the incident.
Because of this fact, you should not delay in taking your pet to the clinic immediately and bring along the packaging if possible. Doing so will give the veterinary team helpful information as to what substances they are working with. You may want to call the emergency center or poison control hotline to see if there are any steps you could take at home, right away, before bringing your dog to the clinic. You may be instructed to remove your pet from the fumes, or to wash the skin and fur gently to remove the product. Diagnosis at the clinic will be made based on the clinical signs that your dog is displaying, the information you can provide on the poisoning incident, and other signs that may be evident (such as your dog smelling like bleach).
Treatment of Household Cleaners Poisoning in Dogs
Treatment may vary greatly depending on the type of household cleaner and the way the poison affected your dog (oral, dermal, inhalation, ingestion). If your dog has taken in a cleaning agent orally, the veterinary team will work to stabilize him by the administration of fluids, pain medication, anti-inflammatories, and if needed, antibiotics. The veterinary team will also monitor renal function. In severe cases, where a household cleaner has cause extensive damage to the stomach, the veterinarian may decide that a tube should be inserted into the wall of the stomach to enable healing while allowing for nutritional needs.
If your pet’s eyes were injured by a cleaning product, the eyes will be flushed with a saline solution. The veterinarian will also examine the eyes, specifically the cornea, and treat as needed for ocular damage. Topical ointments will be prescribed for burns to the skin. For inhalation injury, respiratory therapy will be needed, and in some cases, fluid in the lungs or aspiration pneumonia could be consequences that will require attention.
Recovery of Household Cleaners Poisoning in Dogs
Your dog will be able to go home once he is stabilized and the extent of the damage has been determined, and once the supportive measures have been fulfilled. There may be special considerations you need to be aware of for the near future, such as special feeding requirements if there was extensive oral, esophageal or stomach ulceration. Your veterinarian will advise you on how to care for your furry family member over the coming days and weeks. At least one follow-up appointment will be needed in order for the veterinary team to assess the healing process. Patience and extra care will be required on your part as will extreme diligence with all products in and around the home that can present a danger to curious young children and pets.
Household Cleaners Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
We think our Beagle may have licked up some drain cleaner from the floor of our shower, but is not displaying any symptoms besides initially reacting to the acidic taste and a slight increase in saliva production. He couldn't have gotten much, because there was only a small amount there, but is it enough to warrant a vet visit? Should we worried about long term or serious internal damage?
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I was cleaning with a q tip and it had a tiny bit of stainless steel cleaner on it. I put it down on my table and my cavalier puppy got a hold of it about 20 minutes later. He was chewing on the q tip. He didn't swallow it. Right after he threw up small yellow bile twice. He hadnt eaten yet. That morning. He was fine right after playful. Eating normally drinking, urinatinng and defaulting. Is he ok?
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