What is Liquid Potpourri Poisoning?
Liquid potpourri will make your house smell nice, but it contains a number of chemicals that are toxic to dogs. Cationic detergents are present in almost all products whether or not they are listed on the label. These detergents can cause chemical burns through ingestion, skin contact, or eye exposure. In addition, almost all brands of potpourri contain a combination of essential oils, such as cinnamon, peppermint, wintergreen and others, which help to produce the desired fragrance. Many of these essential oils are toxic and can cause skin irritation and CNS depression if ingested or absorbed through extensive dermal contact. Liquid potpourri is more toxic to cats, but it can still be dangerous for dogs, especially young puppies. Dogs with liver disease may also be more prone to infection since many of the chemicals in potpourri are metabolized in the liver. Liquid potpourri and essential oils are absorbed quickly and some types can be deadly with just a few licks or on a small patch of affected skin. Many owners recognize the problem by smelling the fragrance of the potpourri on their dog. Other symptoms include pawing at the mouth, drooling and vomiting. Skin exposure can cause redness and irritation at the site of contact, while liquid potpourri in the eyes may lead to squinting, swelling and eventually vision loss. As with any caustic substance, damage will take place immediately. There is no antidote for liquid potpourri poisoning, but immediate treatment can reduce the symptoms.
Liquid potpourri contains chemicals that can be toxic to dogs. Exposure can lead to skin irritation, chemical burns, and even tissue damage. This is called liquid potpourri poisoning.
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Symptoms of Liquid Potpourri Poisoning in Dogs
These are the symptoms you may see if you dog has been exposed to liquid potpourri.
- Smells of the potpourri fragrance
- Pawing at the mouth
- Redness or irritation of the mouth or skin
- Difficulty breathing
- Lack of coordination or difficulty walking
- Muscle tremors
All types of potpourri are poisonous. These are the most common toxic ingredients.
- Cationic detergents – these detergents are more toxic than anionic or nonionic detergents which are used to make soap and shampoo, cationic detergents are also commonly found in fabric softeners and germicides
- Essential oils – many essential oils are toxic to dogs (oil of cinnamon, citrus, pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, sweet birch, tea tree, wintergreen, ylang ylang)
Causes of Liquid Potpourri Poisoning in Dogs
These are some of the risk factors associated with liquid potpourri poisoning.
- Broken or leaking container
- Dog playing with the container
- Open bowl of liquid potpourri
- Potpourri poisoning is more common around the Christmas holidays
Diagnosis of Liquid Potpourri Poisoning in Dogs
If you think your dog may have been exposed to liquid potpourri you should try to see your veterinarian as soon as possible. Bring a sample of the suspected substance for identification. Recent poisoning can often be identified by the fragrance of the potpourri, but the symptoms of liquid potpourri poisoning are non-specific and could apply to many different toxicities. The veterinarian will take blood and urine to check for liver and kidney damage and rule out any potential infectious causes if the source of the problem is unknown.
With ingestion, an endoscopy may be necessary to evaluate the extent of the damage to the gastrointestinal tract. In this test, the veterinarian will need to insert a video camera down your dog’s throat under anesthetic. Other types of exposure will be evaluated with a physical examination. A thorough eye examination will be needed after liquid potpourri poisoning in the eye and the veterinarian may refer you to a specialist ophthalmologist.
Treatment of Liquid Potpourri Poisoning in Dogs
If you do not have emergency veterinary services, it’s a good idea to call a poison helpline for instructions. Inducing vomiting is strictly prohibited with liquid potpourri poisoning as it can lead to re-exposure. With ingestion, you may be instructed to give your dog milk, water, or even ice-cream to help dilute the chemicals and coat the stomach lining. With ocular or dermal exposure, you will need to flush thoroughly with warm water. If you call a poison hotline, follow the agent’s instructions exactly.
Take your dog to see a veterinarian as soon as possible. Intravenous fluids may be necessary to avoid dehydration and the veterinarian will also prescribe pain medication and antibiotics to prevent infection in the damaged tissue. With extensive esophageal damage, a feeding tube will be inserted to maintain nutrition during the healing process and your dog will need to stay in a veterinary hospital for at least several days.
For ocular exposure the dog will flush your dog’s eye thoroughly for 20 minutes before examining it for corneal damage. Antibiotic and lubricant drops will likely be prescribed and may need to be applied frequently. A follow-up appointment may be necessary since it may take several hours for injury to be present in some parts of the eye. Various topical creams may also be prescribed for dermal exposure.
Recovery of Liquid Potpourri Poisoning in Dogs
Dogs frequently recover from liquid potpourri poisoning, especially with immediate treatment. Ocular exposure could lead to blindness however, so you may need to help your dog adjust to this new condition. Some types of potpourri can be more deadly than others so this could affect your dog’s prognosis, along with the severity of the exposure.
Avoiding exposure is the best way to manage liquid potpourri poisoning. Keeping potpourri in open or breakable containers is unwise. If there are any spill, remove your dog from the area and clean it up immediately. Not using liquid potpourri in your house is advisable; if this is impossible, remember that it is toxic and should be handled with care.