Chemical Burns

April 12, 2012

People get chemical burns and it would not be surprising if our inquisitive pets get chemical burns too. Chemical burns like thermal burns can be considered as uncommon injuries as compared to injuries sustained by dogs from car mishaps. Chemical burns in pets are often the result of accidents though some can be due to offensive actions that can arise from people’s cruelty to animals. Chemical burns are usually caused by strong acids that came in contact with the dog’s skin. The dog may also inadvertently lick up harmful chemicals that would cause the tongue as well as the mouth to be burned. Acids, lye and some strong home cleaning products like metal cleaners, drain unclogger, toilet bowl cleaners, bleach and chlorinators can cause chemical burns.

Symptoms

Chemical oral burns that would result if the dog has licked a corrosive chemical or an acidic substance may not manifest at once. Noticeable symptoms would be excessive swallowing. The dog may also drool a lot and constantly paw his mouth. The dog may refuse to eat. Owners who have noticed these symptoms should examine the pet’s tongue. In most cases, the tongue would be swollen; edges may be red and raw. As the severely burned tongue surface sloughs, the tissue beneath will be exposed.

Symptoms of chemical burns on other parts of the dog’s body will depend on the strength of the chemical and the duration of exposure or how long the body came in contact with the chemical. Similar to thermal burn, a first degree chemical burn result to redness and swelling of the affected area. The dog would be in pain. If the chemical managed to enter the eyes, vision change would occur.

Severe chemical burns would cause blisters. A third degree burn will cause the skin to be raw, to ooze with liquid. The hair around the affected area can be easily pulled out because the tissue and the hair follicles were damaged. The dog may go into shock.

Prevention

Chemical burn accidents can be prevented by making sure that your home is dog proof. Dogs are naturally inquisitive and they are attracted by anything that smells unusual. Make sure that all caustic chemical are in a tight container and stored in a cabinet out of the pet’s reach. Make sure that all cleaning products are kept in its original packaging. If this is not possible ensure that all chemicals are labeled. It wouldn’t hurt to read the manufacturer’s instruction carefully to ensure proper usage.

Treatment

Chemical burns are seldom fatal. Most can be treated at home. Severe chemical burns however would necessitate immediate medical attention. Initially though, flushing the affected area with water will lessen the damage. The idea is to remove the chemical that came in contact with the pet’s skin. The contaminated area must be washed with large volume of flowing water for at least 20 minutes. A mild soap may be necessary to wash the affected area. Avoid contaminating yourself by wearing rubber gloves. The water must be flowing so that the chemical will not contaminate other parts of the dog’s body. If dry chemical was spilled on the dog, carefully brush the chemical making sure that you and dog’s eyes and mouth is not contaminated. After rinsing, apply an ice pack to the burned skin fro 15 or 20 minutes.

Damage will be lessened if the eye or the tongue that was contaminated by the chemical will be flushed for 15 minutes with large volume of water. A saline solution may be used as water can further irritate the eyes and the raw skin. Saline solution can be made by dissolving two teaspoons of salt in a quart of water. Slathering egg white or pouring milk on the affected area will stop the chemical from creating further damage. Chemical burns create further damage by breaking down the protein in the skin. The egg white or milk on the affected area would give the chemical another protein to break down instead of the dog’s flesh. The affected area must be covered with a non-stick dressing. An Elizabethan collar may be needed to prevent the dog from licking the raw skin and from ingesting the chemical.

A chemical burn would need medical attention. Do not try home remedies like ointment, and neutralizing agents as they can cause further damaged to the already affected skin. Unlike thermal burns where the affected part is immersed in water, chemical burns need flowing water to thoroughly rinse the chemical from the dog’s hair and skin.

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