What is Kerosene Poisoning?
Documentation states that ingestion and subsequent inhalation of a measurement as small as one milliliter of kerosene can cause aspiration pneumonia in a dog. This hazard is due to the fact that inhalation can result in widespread dispersion of the fluid into the lungs. If a canine has experienced aspiration of kerosene, the effects can be seen within minutes but may also appear only hours later. Symptoms ranging from excessive drooling to the very serious signs of distress, seizures, and coma will indicate that kerosene poisoning (and the risk of potential aspiration) has occurred. Exposure to kerosene can cause injuries like irritation of the skin, ulceration of the mucus membranes, and systemic complications such as abnormal heart rate and fever. It is known that kerosene can be damaging to the heart and destructive to the kidneys. Veterinary care is essential if you suspect that your pet has come into contact with kerosene.
Kerosene is a flammable product classified as a hydrocarbon, meaning that it consists of hydrogen and carbon chemicals. Ingestion, skin and eye irritation, and aspiration of the liquid are the dangers presented to dogs who come into contact with kerosene; chemical pneumonitis can be the result.
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Symptoms of Kerosene Poisoning in Dogs
Symptoms related to kerosene poisoning will vary depending on the amount that your pet consumed as well as the type of exposure.
Skin and eyes
- Corneal ulcers
- There may be an odor on the coat but it can be hard to detect
- Loss of appetite
- Oral ulcers
- Vomiting (can be severe)
- Drooling in excess
- Shaking of the head
- Pawing at the face
- Abdominal pain and sensitivity
Large dose ingestion can show additional signs
- Rapid heart rate
- Rapid breathing
- Tremors and shakes
- Loss of bodily control
- Blue mucus membranes
- Difficulty breathing
Causes of Kerosene Poisoning in Dogs
Exposure to kerosene and risk of poisoning can occur when a dog licks up a spill or gets into an unsecured container on his own out of curiosity as to the contents. It has been documented that some pet owners have mistakenly used a kerosene spray as a flea or tick repellent, and have been unaware of the toxic effects of this product. Others have used kerosene in an attempt to remove a substance like paint or sap from their pet’s coat, not realizing the dangers of the act.
Diagnosis of Kerosene Poisoning in Dogs
Contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect or have evidence that your dog has been in contact with kerosene. Even if the exposure appears to be a mild dermal case, veterinary care is needed because your canine companion may have ingested some of the product while grooming or he may have rubbed his paw against his eyes causing ocular injury. In addition, the risk of inhalation is there which can mean a possible delay in serious symptoms. A visit to the veterinarian clinic will allow for treatment before further damage can develop (like respiratory effects such as aspiration pneumonia).
With many types of poisoning, the history of the incident provided by the owner, along with symptoms and the product packaging (it is very helpful to bring this along to the veterinary clinic) are sufficient for diagnosis. If your pet is vomiting, there is a good chance that the vomitus will be analyzed for the presence of kerosene. Your veterinarian will listen to your dog’s heart and give a thorough examination of oral cavities, mucus membranes, skin, and eyes if your pet’s condition allows. Otherwise, these observations can be made later because it will be recommended that your canine family member be observed and monitored in the hospital for 12 to 24 hours minimum.
Treatment of Kerosene Poisoning in Dogs
While in the hospital, your pet will be encouraged to consume fluids. The veterinary team may wash his fur and skin with a mild soap, taking care not to rub the skin but doing their best to ensure that all traces of kerosene are gone. An Elizabethan collar may be put on your dog to make sure that he does not continue to lick the fur and residue. The veterinarian may flush his eyes with saline if needed. Antibiotics, to reduce chance of infection, and medication to stop nausea and drooling may be prescribed. In severe cases, oxygen support will be given. Inducing of vomiting and gastric lavage are avoided because of the high risk of aspiration pneumonia. If your dog has reached a stage of stabilization and remains that way for 24 hours, he should recover fully. In severe cases of kerosene poisoning, and in situations where there is the aspiration of the hydrocarbon or a comatose state, the outlook for recovery is more grave.
Recovery of Kerosene Poisoning in Dogs
Once your canine companion has been cleared to leave the hospital, he will be sent home with instructions for you to provide a quiet environment and cage rest. There may be dietary recommendations and medication to administer. Keep in contact with the veterinary clinic and do not hesitate to contact the team if you have any concerns about your dog’s well-being. Recovery is possible, but it must be stressed that early treatment in the case of any poisoning event always offers the best outcome.