Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, tasteless gas that’s toxic to humans and dogs alike. Carbon monoxide can be found in inadequately ventilated furnaces, tobacco smoke, car exhaust, household fires, and more. Carbon monoxide poisoning in dogs shows up first because they are smaller.
An online survey commissioned by Kidde of more than 1,300 U.S. pet owners and more than 500 Canadian pet owners revealed 53% of American and 61% of Canadian pet owners couldn’t identify symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning in dogs.
What causes carbon monoxide poisoning in dogs
When humans or dogs breathe in carbon monoxide gas, it is absorbed into the blood and combined with hemoglobin to form carboxyhemoglobin. That reduces oxygen delivery to the body, limiting oxygen in the heart and brain. When a dog is exposed to carbon monoxide for an extended period, it leads to hypoxemia, and in the end, death.
Whether you are preparing for owning a dog, or you already have one, this is essential information of which you should be aware. Learn to recognize the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning in dogs, so you know what to do if it happens.
Look for symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning in dogs
If there is any carbon monoxide leak or a fire, your dog will be affected first. Dogs exposed to carbon monoxide can be vomiting, feel sleepier than usual, or act erratically. The signs will depend on the concentration and exposure to the gas. Symptoms can include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Bright, cherry-red gums in the mouth
- If your dog is pregnant, it can lead to miscarriage
- Uncoordinated movements
- Inability to hear properly
When dogs are exposed for a more extended period, your dog might experience:
- Chest pain
- Flu-like symptoms
- Loss of stamina
It is difficult to know if your dog is experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning in dogs because they can’t tell you if their tummy hurts or if they are having trouble seeing.
But if you notice any symptoms or suspect your dog has been exposed to carbon monoxide, go to the vet immediately.
Your vet will probably want to know a few pieces of information like if and how long your dog was exposed to carbon monoxide, whether there were other people or pets around and if anyone else shows symptoms.
If your dog collapses, the vet will immediately give him oxygen therapy, even before asking for any information. Oxygen therapy removes the carbon monoxide from the blood to return your dog’s oxygen levels to normal.
Your vet also will take blood and urine samples for testing. One test will determine the level of carboxyhemoglobin in the blood. This is the most important test because it will help your vet plan your dog’s treatment.
What is the right treatment plan?
The treatment will depend on the symptoms and condition of the dog. Although oxygen therapy is a must, it will immediately help eliminate the carbon monoxide, and it should continue until levels of carboxyhemoglobin are less than 4%. Your dog will receive fluids as well to improve blood flow to vital organs.
If the pup is having seizures, the vet might give him diazepam, while monitoring heart rate and rhythm.
Sometimes, a CT scan may be necessary if there are some persistent neurological signs. This will be done to look for signs for cerebral edema.
If you suspect that your dog was exposed to carbon monoxide, but doesn’t show any symptoms, the vet might advise monitoring the dog at home.
The vet might ask you to bring your dog back for a follow-up to determine whether the dog has entirely recovered from carbon monoxide poisoning. Moreover, ensure that your pup rests the first three to four weeks, and proper food and water available at all times so that he/she can heal properly.
Make sure you check all equipment for gas leaks and check the hoses for any cracks. Whenever you perform maintenance, do I in a ventilated area or someplace with fans to disperse any gas fumes.
Most importantly, don’t leave your dog in a space without any ventilation and airflow.
Protect your dog and yourself
One thing that you have to do is install carbon monoxide monitors.
Considering the gas doesn’t have odor or color, it is challenging to notice it until it’s too late, and the symptoms of the sickness start.
Installing a monitor will ensure carbon monoxide leaks are detected quickly. Also, you can put one monitor in each room where a leak could happen, and a professional inspect all appliances that create carbon monoxide at least once a year.
Nino Kadric is the editor of Pets Motherland, a website dedicated to providing information about pets. He has loved animals since childhood and believes a pet’s love has no limit. He also believes people should respect animals and nature.