Laurie Anne Walden, DVM
Most dogs and cats cope very well with vision loss. They rely more on the sense of smell than on the sense of sight. Blind animals can have happy, comfortable lives with some help from their owners.
Pets with gradual vision loss often adapt so well that their owners don’t realize their pets are having trouble seeing until they’re completely blind and bumping into things. Animals with sudden blindness can take longer to adjust.
Safety and Navigation
Use gates and other barriers to block a blind animal’s access to stairs, swimming pools, fireplaces, and other dangers. Use foam cushioning (child safety equipment) to pad furniture corners. Keep the floor clear of trip hazards like toys and laundry.
Keep blind animals in a crate or other secure space whenever they’re unsupervised, at least while they’re adjusting to their loss of vision. This space can also become a safe, familiar retreat.
Blind animals can have a hard time navigating stairs, especially descending. Be patient and use a harness and treats to show blind dogs how to manage stairs. Consider covering short runs of steps with a ramp. Nonslip strips applied to stair treads might make a blind pet feel more secure. Dogs and cats that sleep on furniture might need a ramp or steps so they don’t have to jump up and down.
To help blind pets learn their way around the house, don’t pick them up and carry them; let them walk on their own. Different floor surfaces (mats or rugs) can help them identify specific areas like doorways and the location of food and water bowls. A radio left on at all times in one room and scents applied to furniture at the pet’s head height can also help orient them inside the house.
Face whiskers help animals feel obstacles, so don’t have their whiskers trimmed at grooming appointments. Vests with circular extensions around the head or chest (halo vests) are available for blind dogs who keep bumping into things.
Exercise and Mental Health
Blind animals need exercise just like every other animal, but they shouldn’t go outdoors unsupervised. Even a small fenced yard can have holes and fallen branches that would pose a risk to a blind pet. If you don’t have a fenced yard that’s safe and familiar to your dog, keep your dog on a leash.
When walking your blind dog, attach the leash to a harness instead of a collar in case you need to pull your dog away from a hazard. Teach your dog verbal cues like “left,” “right,” and “stop.” An unexpected touch can frighten a blind dog, so warn people who approach that your dog is blind. Consider using a dog vest with the words “Blind dog” or “Do not pet.” Be very careful if another dog approaches while you’re walking your dog. A blind dog can’t read other dogs’ body language. If you let your dog interact with another dog, be sure that the other dog is friendly and that your dog is comfortable with the interaction.
Provide toys that stimulate senses other than sight. Use toys with bells (with supervision—bells can be a choking hazard), catnip toys for cats, and tracking games for dogs who enjoy following scents. For some animals, playing contact games like tug of war might be easier than chasing toys by sound or scent.
Some animals experience anxiety while they’re adjusting to vision loss. Keep your pet’s routine consistent, stay positive around your pet, and provide a safe retreat like a crate. Behavior changes like hiding, reluctance to walk or play, growling, barking, and snapping can all be signs of anxiety. Contact your veterinarian if your pet has any of these changes or seems to be having trouble adapting. Some pets benefit from short-term or long-term prescription anxiety medications.
For more ideas, see the ACVO Vision for Animals Foundation website: https://www.visionforanimals.org/coping-with-a-blind-dog/
Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/SEX4KAz9ExQ
Laurie Anne Walden, DVM
Treats are fun to give and are useful for training. But in large enough quantities, treats and table food can contribute to weight gain and throw off the nutritional balance of a pet’s diet.
Keep these points in mind:
If you live with other people, you probably aren’t the only person giving your pet treats. Talk to your veterinarian about a realistic nutrition plan that will work for your household, especially if your pet is overweight or has special nutritional needs.
The calories in treats and table food can add up quickly for a small animal that needs only a fraction of the calories that a person eats. To find out how much your pet should eat in a day, start with your pet food manufacturer’s feeding guide or use a calorie calculator. Your pet’s individual requirement might be higher or lower than the estimate from a feeding guide or calorie calculator, so keep an eye on your pet’s body condition and adjust the amount fed as needed.
Here’s how to find your pet’s daily calorie requirement:
A balanced diet has the right proportions of vitamins, minerals, protein, and fat for an animal’s species and life stage. For example, cats need a higher percentage of dietary protein than dogs do, and growing animals need more calcium than adults do.
Pet foods sold as complete and balanced diets must meet nutrient requirements set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). The packaging will include a statement that the product meets AAFCO standards for a certain species and life stage.
Products sold as treats don’t have to meet these nutrient requirements. As long as the treats make up less than 10% of the daily calorie intake, their nutrient content isn’t that important. But if treats account for more than 10% of the daily calories, they can unbalance the diet.
These treats don’t contain many calories and are safe for healthy dogs and cats. If your pet has a food allergy or a medical condition, ask your veterinarian about appropriate treats.
Image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/hjzs2nA4y-k
Laurie Anne Walden, DVM
Many dogs and cats need eye medication at some point in their lives. Pets with chronic eye diseases might need more than 1 eye medication given multiple times a day for years. With practice and positive reinforcement, giving eye medication to an animal can be quick and drama free.
If your pet doesn’t need eye medication yet, you can train them for it in advance. This training will reduce your pet’s stress when they need medication later on. Go through the body positioning and head handling steps listed below and give yummy treats at each stage. Large dogs can be trained to rest their head on your knee to receive eye medication.
Handling Eye Medication
Giving Multiple Medications
Administering the Medication
Watch for Unwanted Effects
Some eye medications are a little uncomfortable for the first few applications. It’s common for animals to blink more than usual or squint for a minute or two after an eye medication is applied. If your pet’s eye seems uncomfortable for more than a few minutes or if this response continues for more than the first few doses, contact your veterinarian.
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/181765699@N08/48298582227/
Laurie Anne Walden, DVM
The retina is a structure made of layers of photoreceptor cells and nerve cells at the back of the eye. The retina converts light into electrical signals that are sent to the brain to be interpreted as visual images.
Disorders of the retina cause vision loss. Whether the animal becomes completely and permanently blind depends on the cause. Inherited disorders, infection, inflammation, eye trauma, eye cancer, and metabolic diseases that affect the whole body can all cause retinal disorders.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Progressive retinal atrophy is the name for a group of inherited disorders that cause gradual blindness as the retina degenerates. Progressive retinal atrophy is most common in purebred dogs but also happens in cats and mixed-breed dogs. Some of the dog breeds at more risk than others are poodles, cocker spaniels, Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, miniature schnauzers, dachshunds, Siberian huskies, mastiffs, and pugs.
Depending on the genetic variation, progressive retinal atrophy can cause vision loss starting very young (in puppies) or later in life. Vision gradually deteriorates over time. Affected animals eventually become blind.
Night blindness—loss of vision in low light—is the first sign in many animals. Because dogs and cats usually adapt well to vision loss, owners might not realize their pet’s vision has been affected unless they move the furniture or take their pet to an unfamiliar place. The condition isn’t painful and doesn’t affect the rest of the body, so animals with progressive retinal atrophy don’t feel unwell.
Progressive retinal atrophy is diagnosed with an eye examination, usually by a veterinary ophthalmologist. Electroretinography, which measures electrical activity in the retina, is also sometimes used. DNA tests can identify genetic variations that put a dog at risk.
No treatment for progressive retinal atrophy is available. However, because affected animals feel fine, they can continue to live normal lives with environmental management (to prevent falls from heights, for example). Some animals with progressive retinal atrophy also develop cataracts, but they aren’t good candidates for cataract surgery because they would still be blind after the surgery. Animals carrying genetic variations linked to progressive retinal atrophy shouldn’t be used for breeding.
Retinal detachment is separation of layers of the retina from their normal position. The many possible causes include high blood pressure, eye trauma, infection, inflammation inside the eye, immune system problems, eye cancer, and inherited conditions of the retina.
Depending on the cause, retinal detachment can affect one or both eyes and can cause gradual vision loss or sudden total blindness. If the cause is something that affects the whole body, the animal might have other signs of illness.
Retinal detachment is diagnosed with an eye examination and sometimes ultrasonography of the eye. Other tests are needed to find the cause.
Treatment for retinal detachment depends on the cause and whether the retina is only detached or is also torn. Medical treatment is aimed at whatever caused the retinal detachment. In some cases, the retina can be repaired surgically. The best chance for saving vision is by diagnosing and treating the detachment very soon after it occurs.
Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome
Sudden acquired retinal degeneration syndrome (SARDS) causes sudden total blindness in dogs because of loss of function of the photoreceptor cells of the retina. The cause is not known.
Dogs of any breed, including mixed-breed dogs, can be affected. Miniature schnauzers, dachshunds, pugs, and other small dogs seem to have SARDS more often than others, according to the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists. The average age of onset is 7 to 10 years.
Along with vision loss, many patients with SARDS have decreased energy and increased appetite, thirst, and urine volume during the first few months. These signs are similar to those of hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing disease). However, no definite link to endocrine disorders like Cushing disease has been found. Ongoing research has suggested that SARDS might be caused by a neuroendocrine or autoimmune disorder, but these possibilities also haven’t been proven.
SARDS is diagnosed by electroretinography showing no electrical activity in the retina. An eye examination won’t show any abnormalities at first. After some time has passed, a veterinary ophthalmologist might find retinal degeneration on examination.
Because we don’t know how or why SARDS develops, it’s not possible to predict which dogs are at risk. There is also no treatment. Dogs with SARDS become fully blind but still have a good quality of life with some help from their owners to keep them safe.
To read more about eye disorders in animals, see the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists website: https://www.acvo.org/common-conditions1.
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/kowal854/49042126841/
Laurie Anne Walden, DVM
The 3 main allergy categories in dogs and cats are allergies to environmental substances, fleas, and food. Food allergies are the least common, diagnosed in about 15% to 20% of dogs and cats with itchy skin and less than 1% of dogs and cats with any disease. Many animals with allergies are allergic to multiple substances in different categories.
An allergy develops after the immune system has become sensitized to the trigger substance. This means that food allergies take time to develop. Any food ingredient that a dog or cat has been eating for a while could potentially cause a food allergy. A new food that an animal just started eating wouldn’t cause allergy symptoms.
The most commonly reported food allergy triggers are ingredients that are most common in dog and cat diets; examples are beef, chicken, dairy products, wheat, and fish. But anything an animal has eaten could theoretically be responsible, and studies have reported individual dogs and cats becoming allergic to foods as diverse as kidney bean, barley, and tomato.
Itching is the most common sign of any type of allergy in dogs and cats. Itching caused by a food allergy is typically nonseasonal, but because animals with a food allergy can also be allergic to environmental substances, their itching might be worse at certain times of the year.
Food allergies cause the same skin problems as other allergies. Repeated skin and ear infections are common. Food allergies can also cause digestive tract symptoms. These are some of the signs:
The only way to diagnose food allergy in dogs and cats is with an elimination diet trial. An elimination diet is formulated to eliminate all possible allergy triggers from the animal’s food. Food allergy is diagnosed if the allergy signs improve during the diet trial. Single-ingredient challenge trials are then used to pinpoint the trigger ingredients.
An elimination diet trial usually lasts at least 8 weeks. During the trial, the animal can eat nothing except the elimination diet and approved treats: no flavored medications, table food, chew toys made from animal products, and so forth.
Two types of prescription diets are used as elimination diets. Limited-ingredient diets have unusual protein and carbohydrate sources the pet is unlikely to have eaten before. Hydrolyzed protein diets have proteins broken down into molecular units too small to trigger an allergic response. Home-cooked elimination diets are appropriate for some pets and are best planned with the input of a veterinary dermatologist or nutritionist.
Just changing the brand or flavor of dog or cat food doesn’t work to diagnose a food allergy. Commercial grain-free, raw, and boutique diets also don’t work as elimination diets. Nonprescription dog and cat diets usually contain some of the same ingredients (possible allergy triggers), might contain protein or carbohydrate sources not listed on the label, and can be cross-contaminated with other foods during manufacture.
Veterinary dermatologists use skin tests to identify environmental substances that cause an allergic response, but skin tests can’t effectively identify food ingredients that trigger allergies. None of the blood and saliva tests that claim to diagnose food allergy have been found to be reliable.
Animals with allergies are often allergic to multiple substances, so the more allergy triggers you can eliminate, the more comfortable they’ll be. For pets with food allergies, avoiding trigger ingredients reduces the allergic response. Elimination diets that are nutritionally complete can be fed long term as therapeutic diets. Some pet owners prefer to find a less expensive nonprescription diet that lacks their pet’s trigger ingredients. Effective flea prevention is especially important for animals with allergies to eliminate the possibility that a flea allergy is contributing to the itch.
1. Olivry T, Mueller RS. Critically appraised topic on adverse food reactions of companion animals (3): prevalence of cutaneous adverse food reactions in dogs and cats. BMC Vet Res. 2016;13(1):51. doi:10.1186/s12917-017-0973-z
2. Mueller RS, Olivry T, Prélaud P. Critically appraised topic on adverse food reactions of companion animals (2): common food allergen sources in dogs and cats. BMC Vet Res. 2016;12:9. doi:10.1186/s12917-016-0633-8
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Laurie Anne Walden, DVM
Glaucoma is caused by increased pressure inside the eye. It can be painful and often causes blindness even with treatment. Acute glaucoma is an emergency, so dogs and cats with any signs of eye discomfort or vision loss need to be examined by a veterinarian right away.
Pressure inside the eye, or intraocular pressure, is controlled by a balance of fluid production and fluid drainage. In dogs and cats, glaucoma results from decreased fluid drainage.
Fluid drains out of the eye mostly at the angle where the clear cornea and the colored iris meet inside the eye. This area, called the iridocorneal angle, contains a sieve-like network of tiny ligaments and tissues that regulate fluid flow. Anything that interferes with the iridocorneal angle can cause glaucoma.
Primary vs secondary glaucoma
Primary glaucoma is caused by an inherited problem with the structure or function of the iridocorneal angle. Some of the dog breeds at increased risk are cocker spaniels, beagles, basset hounds, Siberian huskies, and Samoyeds. Primary glaucoma is a progressive disease. Affected dogs need lifelong treatment, and the chance they will eventually become blind is high. Primary glaucoma is very rare in cats.
Secondary glaucoma is caused by another eye disease (like uveitis, lens luxation, cataract, or cancer of the eye) that results in physical blockage of the iridocorneal angle.
Acute vs chronic glaucoma
Acute glaucoma is an increase in intraocular pressure for less than a day. Chronic glaucoma is an increase in intraocular pressure for longer than a day. The best chance for saving vision is to start treatment during the acute stage. However, the early signs of glaucoma can be subtle or mistaken for another eye problem, so glaucoma often isn’t diagnosed until it’s chronic.
Glaucoma causes the same signs of eye discomfort as other eye disorders. Animals with glaucoma can also have subtle behavior changes caused by eye pain. The signs usually start in only 1 eye but might not be noticed until chronic glaucoma has affected both eyes. These are some of the signs of glaucoma:
A high intraocular pressure measurement confirms the diagnosis of glaucoma. Devices used to measure intraocular pressure in animals are similar to those used in humans. Animals with glaucoma benefit from referral to a veterinary ophthalmologist to evaluate the iridocorneal angle and assess the risk of glaucoma in the other eye. Animals with secondary glaucoma usually need additional tests.
Glaucoma is managed, not cured. The goals of treatment are to prevent pain, preserve vision as long as possible, and delay glaucoma onset in the other eye. Animals with acute glaucoma need emergency treatment to quickly reduce intraocular pressure, and they are typically hospitalized for intraocular pressure monitoring and pain management. Some patients need surgical treatment. Dogs with primary glaucoma need ongoing treatment with eye drops, oral medication, or both.
Once an eye with glaucoma is irreversibly blind and painful, the kindest option is surgery to remove the eye. Animals tend to do well with this surgery and feel much better after the eye is removed.
For dogs with primary glaucoma, the long-term prognosis for vision is typically poor. However, early diagnosis and treatment can help these dogs stay comfortable and able to see for some time. Blind animals can have a very good quality of life with care and environmental management.
If secondary glaucoma is identified and treated quickly and the cause can be eliminated, the prognosis for retaining vision is better than with primary glaucoma.
Image source: https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=460143
Laurie Anne Walden, DVM
Warm weather brings some extra risks for pets. Some animals need protection from sunlight, and all animals need protection from hot temperatures.
Sun-Related Skin Conditions
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight causes skin damage in animals just like it does in humans. Fur and melanin (dark pigment) protect the skin from UV rays, so animals with short white hair or no hair are at higher risk than those with thick dark fur. Most animals with sun-related skin disease spend a lot of time outdoors, but even indoor cats can develop skin disease caused by UV rays coming through windows.
Sun-related skin damage typically affects areas of the body that don’t have thick fur and are exposed to the sun. Any part of the body with thin or light-colored hair can be involved, but these are the most common areas:
Solar dermatitis, also called actinic dermatitis, is skin disease caused by exposure to UV radiation. It can be mistaken for allergic skin disease because the lesions are similar and it is often seasonal. Affected skin is red, painful to the touch, and scaly or flaky. Bumps and oozy lesions might develop. Over time, the skin becomes thickened and scarred. Because solar dermatitis usually causes a secondary skin infection, the lesions might improve with antibiotics, at least at first.
UV radiation causes mutations within skin cells, so solar dermatitis can transform into skin cancer (squamous cell carcinoma or hemangiosarcoma, for example). These cancers are malignant: they can spread throughout the body. Solar dermatitis and skin cancer are diagnosed with skin biopsy.
Heat stroke is a life-threatening risk to animals during warm weather. Unlike solar dermatitis and skin cancer, it doesn’t require direct exposure to UV rays. The outdoor temperature doesn’t even have to be very hot for an animal to develop heat stroke. The temperature inside a parked car quickly rises higher than the outside temperature, so animals inside parked cars are at risk even in moderately warm weather. Brachycephalic (short-nosed) animals like pugs and bulldogs are at especially high risk.
Signs of heat stroke include panting, dark red or purple gums, vomiting, collapse, and seizures. Heat stroke requires immediate first aid (cooling with water, not ice) and emergency veterinary care. For more information, see the blog post on heat stroke.
How to Protect Your Pet
The best way to protect animals is to minimize their exposure to UV rays and heat:
Image source: Elisa Kennemer on Unsplash
Laurie Anne Walden, DVM
Animal exposures to marijuana have increased dramatically in recent years. As more states legalize medical or recreational marijuana for human use, more pets are likely to have access to cannabis products.
To keep things clear, here are a few terms used to describe cannabis products:
Sources of Exposure
Edible products account for most THC exposures in pets. Edible products made with butter or oil infused with medical-grade marijuana have a high concentration of THC. Edible products can also contain other ingredients, like chocolate and xylitol, that are dangerous for animals.
Cannabis plants are also a risk for animals. The THC content of cultivated C sativa has increased over time and varies among plants, so it’s hard to know just how much THC an animal that eats part of a cannabis plant or inhales the smoke has received.
Vaping devices containing CBD, THC, or synthetic cannabinoids have caused toxicosis in animals. Animals have also been poisoned by eating marijuana in discarded cannabis products and—this one is gross—human feces.
CBD products have been reported to cause poisoning in animals. It’s possible that the toxic effects were caused by contamination with THC or another substance, not the CBD itself, but the effects of CBD on animals are still being investigated. Another concern with CBD is that it might interact with prescribed medications, possibly affecting liver function.
Marijuana toxicosis makes animals sick but is rarely fatal. However, 2 dogs have died after eating baked goods containing medical-grade marijuana butter.
Signs of poisoning start within a few minutes to several hours after exposure, depending on the type of exposure. These are some of the signs of marijuana toxicosis in animals:
Exposure to THC or synthetic cannabinoids can also cause changes in heart rate, inability to regulate body temperature, aggression, seizures, and coma.
Over-the-counter human urine tests for marijuana don’t work well in dogs and tend to return either false-positive or false-negative results. The diagnosis of marijuana toxicosis is usually based on clinical signs, although many diseases and other toxins can cause the same signs. Knowing that an animal could have been exposed to marijuana certainly makes the diagnosis easier, but owners aren’t always willing to tell a veterinarian that their pet had access to a cannabis product.
Whether an animal with marijuana poisoning needs to be hospitalized depends on the severity of the signs. Treatment is mostly supportive care, with medication used as needed to treat specific problems (like heart rate abnormalities). Inducing vomiting can be unsafe, so an animal that has eaten a cannabis product might need to be sedated so the stomach can be emptied through a tube.
The prognosis is usually good for animals with marijuana poisoning. The risk is higher for animals exposed to medical-grade marijuana products or synthetic cannabinoids.
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nida-nih/28147221034/in/photostream/
Laurie Anne Walden, DVM
Spring is the start of snake season in North Carolina. The vast majority of snakes in our state are harmless. Only a few venomous snake species (copperheads, cottonmouths, rattlesnakes, and coral snakes) live in North Carolina. In the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area, the copperhead is by far the most common venomous snake.
Learn to recognize copperheads.
Copperheads have a distinctive hourglass pattern that from the side looks like a row of Hershey’s kisses. It’s easier to identify a copperhead by its markings than by the shape of its head or pupils. Head shape isn’t a reliable way to tell if a snake is venomous; some nonvenomous snakes can flatten their heads to mimic a pit viper’s triangular head. As for pupil shape (round vs vertical slits)—seriously, just don’t get close enough to a wild snake to check.
You can see photos of North Carolina snakes on the Herps of NC website: https://herpsofnc.org/snakes/. You’ll notice that copperheads and also a lot of nonvenomous snakes are brown with splotches. This color combination is common because it’s great camouflage, but unfortunately it means that nonvenomous snakes are often mistaken for copperheads.
Don’t worry too much about identifying a snake that’s bitten your dog. Treatment is based more on symptoms than on snake species, and it’s more important to get your dog to an emergency clinic without delay. If you want to identify a snake you’ve seen outdoors, take a photo so you can look it up online, but don’t approach or disturb the snake.
Dogs get bitten because they’re curious, not because snakes are aggressive attack animals.
Snakes hide in small spaces where they’re relatively safe from predators and can find food (mostly small rodents like mice). Woodpiles, tarps, underbrush, tall grass, leaf litter, rock crevices, and yard debris are all possible snake habitats.
Snakes bite for defense. A dog that steps on a snake or sticks its nose into a snake’s hiding place can be bitten. Because of their color camouflage, copperheads are hard to spot. You and your dog might not even know a copperhead is there unless it bites one of you.
Avoid snake areas. If you see a snake, leave it alone and walk away.
Here are some ways to reduce your dog’s chance of a snake encounter:
If your dog is bitten, seek emergency veterinary care right away.
Copperhead venom isn’t as toxic as cottonmouth or rattlesnake venom, but a copperhead bite can still be quite serious for a dog. Copperhead bites are very painful and cause swelling and tissue damage. The venom can also interfere with blood clotting.
Dogs with snakebite are usually hospitalized for pain management, intravenous fluids, wound care, supportive care, and observation. Copperhead bites aren’t often treated with antivenin, but dogs with severe symptoms might need it.
If your dog is bitten, stay calm and take your dog to an emergency clinic. Don’t use ice, a tourniquet, or anything to remove venom from the wound; all of these can make the tissue damage worse. Leave the snake alone. If you try to catch or kill it, you could be bitten too.
CDC image source: https://phil.cdc.gov/Details.aspx?pid=10841
Laurie Anne Walden, DVM
Laundry and dish detergents contain chemicals that are unsafe for animals. Detergent pods pose a bigger risk than bottled liquid detergents or detergent powders.
Detergents contain anionic and nonionic surfactants, which lift dirt and oil off of surfaces and fabrics. These types of surfactants cause mild irritation to the skin and eyes. If swallowed, they can cause vomiting.
Fabric softeners, disinfectants, and sanitizing solutions sometimes contain cationic surfactants, which are more corrosive than anionic and nonionic surfactants. Cats are especially sensitive to cationic surfactants. Direct contact can injure the skin, and cats that lick these products from their paws or fur can also have damage to the mouth and digestive tract.
Some detergents are alkaline (they have a high pH, the opposite of acids). Concentrated alkaline products damage the stomach if swallowed. Detergents might also contain ethanol and other potentially toxic ingredients.
Animals (mainly dogs) that bite detergent pods are at higher risk than animals that lick liquid detergents or detergent powders. Even when the ingredients are similar, the consequences of exposure are more serious with detergent packaged in pods.
Detergent in pods is concentrated and under pressure. When a tooth punctures a pod, the detergent sprays the inside of the mouth, from where it is swallowed, inhaled into the lungs, or both. Animals that lick spilled liquid detergent aren’t likely to consume very much of it because it doesn’t taste good. In comparison, dogs that bite detergent pods get a larger dose of product at a higher concentration.
The most severe effects of detergent exposure are lung inflammation and pneumonia, which happen when detergent—or vomit that contains detergent—is inhaled into the lungs. Pneumonia can be fatal, so it’s possible for dogs that chew detergent pods to die.
Signs of Detergent Toxicosis
If Your Pet Is Exposed
Image source: Antonio Jose Cespedes on Pixabay
Laurie Anne Walden, DVM
The contents of this blog are for information only and should not substitute for advice from a veterinarian who has examined the animal. All blog content is copyrighted by Mallard Creek Animal Hospital and may not be copied, reproduced, transmitted, or distributed without permission.