What is Phenol and Phenolic Poisoning?
Dogs are naturally curious creatures and like to investigate what we are doing. When we are cleaning our homes, they sometimes get too close to the products, spill them, and then either come into contact with them or ingest them. If this happens, you need to wash the skin where contact was made with a mild dish detergent. If your dog ingested products, you need to administer a GI demulcent, such as egg or milk, and get him to a veterinarian immediately.
Phenols and phenolics can be found in household cleaning agents. They can be toxic to your dog if he ingests them or if he comes into contact with them. If your dog interacts with these agents in any way, you should treat it as a medical emergency.
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Symptoms of Phenol and Phenolic Poisoning in Dogs
Symptoms of phenol and phenolic poisoning may include:
- Necrosis of the skin
- Necrosis of the mucous membranes
- CNS depression
Onset of symptoms can range from as quickly as 15 minutes to several hours.
Phenolics are found in many household disinfectants. Phenol is a colorless chemical or has a whitish color when in its crystalline compound form. It is very soluble in alcohol, chloroform and oils, and somewhat soluble in benzene and water. It has a very distinct odor to it and should be stored properly in closed containers and out of the direct light.
Causes of Phenol and Phenolic Poisoning in Dogs
Most cases of phenol and phenolic poisonings are accidental. Either a curious dog gets into the household products or accidentally comes into contact with them while the owner is cleaning. Poisoning from these products can be from coming into contact with it in some way or by accidental ingestion.
Diagnosis of Phenol and Phenolic Poisoning in Dogs
Diagnosis of phenol and phenolic poisoning is either on a rule out basis or by witnessing it firsthand. The symptoms he may display are not commonly seen in anything other than a type of toxicity. When you first arrive at the veterinarian office, she will begin by performing a physical exam. This will allow her to view all of his symptoms and note all the abnormalities.
If his skin is irritated, she may want to take a skin scraping sample to look at it under the microscope for a cause. She may also want to take a skin impression to view any cells on the microscope slide. If there is severe necrosis of the skin, it may not be clear to the veterinarian what exact substance may have caused it but will be able to narrow it down to a probable cause.
Blood work will likely be performed to check blood chemistry levels and blood cell count. A complete blood count and super chemistry will give the veterinarian needed information to check his electrolyte levels, how the internal organs are functioning, and how his body is coping with the toxin.
Treatment of Phenol and Phenolic Poisoning in Dogs
Fluid therapy will be started to flush the toxin from his system as quickly and as safely as possible. The fluids will ensure everything in your dog’s body continues to flow and work its way out of his system. Also, any injury to the skin will be a source of fluid loss so the therapy will ensure he does not get dehydrated.
If your dog is experiencing breathing difficulties due to ingestion of the toxin, he will be put on oxygen therapy. If it is mild depression of oxygen, he may be placed in an oxygen cage or receive oxygen via flow by method. If he experiencing severe symptoms of oxygen depression, he may have to be intubated and kept on oxygen via intubation until he stabilizes.
If you witnessed your dog ingesting a substance with phenols, one thing you can do on your way to the veterinarians is administer a GI demulcent such as milk or eggs. If your dog came into contact with the phenol, you can wash the skin with a mild dish detergent and rinse thoroughly. If the phenol gets into the eye, it needs to be flushed with isothermic isotonic saline.
Recovery of Phenol and Phenolic Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog comes into contact or ingests a phenol or phenolic agent, get him to a veterinarian immediately. Even if you administer GI demulcents at home and wash off any areas of skin contact, he will still need to receive professional veterinary care.
His recovery will depend on the amount he ingested and how long after ingestion he received care. Even with quick medical care, his recovery may not be very smooth. Keep all your cleaning chemicals away from your dog. Store them in a cabinet higher up than he can reach and when cleaning, keep all pets in an area away from where you are working. There is no better treatment for phenol and phenolic poisoning than prevention.