Both humans and dogs are at risk of inhaling hazardous smoke when wildfires ravage an area. Carbon monoxide is one of many potentially harmful substances found in smoke. When dogs inhale smoke, toxic byproducts such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and cyanide are inhaled. Inhalation of these substances limits oxygen supply to tissues, resulting in a range of severe conditions, including death.
This begs the question, what are the dangers of smoke inhalation? Keep reading as we discuss common symptoms, dangers of smoke inhalation and chances of your dog surviving.
Symptoms of smoke inhalation in dogs vary based on how much smoke is ingested. Below are some common warning signs to look out for:
When your dog displays one or more of these symptoms, you should seek immediate medical assistance from your veterinarian.
Prompt treatment is vital, just as it is for other fire-related injuries. Smoke inhalation injuries in dogs are not necessarily fatal, and if diagnosed early enough, they can be treated. However, in extreme situations, it could lead to death. Smoke inhalation can endanger dogs in the following ways:
The heat from smoke inhalation can cause burns in your dog’s airways and lungs, leading to severe swelling and inflammation. A damaged airway lining also raises the potential for pneumonia.
Neurological damage stems from oxygen deprivation or direct chemical reactions in the brain. Smoke inhalation can cause neurological issues in dogs leaving symptoms like walking difficulties, behavioral abnormalities, and seizures if left untreated.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless gas produced when fuels are not completely burnt. When your dog is exposed to CO gas, the CO molecules displace the oxygen in its body, causing poisoning. Increased respiratory rate and irregular breathing are common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning in dogs.
There are a variety of chemical irritants in smoke. These irritants can cause inflammation and restriction of the airways and other types of lung injury. Depending on the material being burnt, the hassles detected in smoke will vary.
The burning of plastic and other synthetic materials produces hydrogen cyanide. Hydrogen cyanide, like carbon monoxide, interferes with the body’s use of oxygen.
Rapid breathing, breathing difficulties, lethargy, sleepiness, or even unusually enthusiastic behavior are signs of hydrogen cyanide poisoning, similar to those seen during oxygen deprivation.
Pneumonia is a lung infection that can develop from delayed smoke inhalation treatments in your dog. When the airways get compromised, the lungs cannot defend themselves against bacteria infiltration.
When dogs inhale toxic substances like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, or cyanide, oxygen flow to the tissues is disrupted. Depending on the severity and if not treated promptly, it may result in death. Smoke inhalation can create thermal injuries to a dog’s airways that are not visible externally. It takes 48 to 72 hours for ulcers and erosions to manifest, so dogs with smoke inhalation injuries should be observed closely for several days.
The chances of your dog surviving after exposure to smoke depend on several factors. How long was the dog exposed to the smoke, how much smoke was inhaled, and what chemicals were inhaled? A dog has a higher chance of surviving after exposure to a short amount of smoke over a short period than exposure over a long period.
The treatment of smoke inhalation is usually with oxygen therapy. The aim is to flush the carbon monoxide from the dog’s bloodstream and improve oxygen delivery to the body tissue. An oxygen cage or flow-by oxygen mask is used in case of mild exposure. However, a tracheotomy tube is inserted through the trachea to help the dog breathe in extreme situations.
Smoke inhalation in dogs can quickly degenerate if they are not tended to promptly. The first and best step to take when your dog inhales smoke should be a visit to a veterinarian. You can always trust the expert vets at Dr. Ron’s Animal Hospital and Emergency to handle smoke inhalation injuries in your dog.
Our team has been providing exceptional pet care for pet owners in Simi Valley, Moorpark, Thousand Oaks, Chatsworth, and the surrounding regions of Ventura County for over 19 years. Our state-of-the-art facility features an excellent in-house laboratory and digital radiography, allowing us to treat your pet as soon as possible. Call us now if you feel that your pet needs medical assistance.