Carbon monoxide poisoning causes 15,000 emergency department visits for people every year in the US. We don’t know the number of pets who are exposed to and affected by this toxin, but more than a third of the country’s households have either a dog or cat. So, it’s best to be aware of this toxin’s risks of exposure.
Pets that are low to the ground have the greatest risk of exposure as the toxin is about the same density as room air. Taller pets are therefore safer--but they are hardly safe. Birds are at an even higher risk of exposure and harm due to their unique respiratory system.
Carbon monoxide bonds to the oxygen-carrying part of a red blood cell so that it no longer can carry the oxygen. Organs such as the heart and brain are most affected since they use the most oxygen to function properly.
Common sources of carbon monoxide include vehicle exhaust, household fires, home furnaces, stoves, and water heaters.
Symptoms of poisoning may include depression, vomiting, weakness, coma, seizures, difficulty breathing, heart irregularities, and acute death. Permanent deafness and blindness are possible.
Any pet who is recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning should be closely monitored for three to six days. Watch out for a return or sudden worsening of neurologic symptoms.
Treatment typically involves delivering oxygen to the pet via intubation or in an oxygen chamber. Seizures should be treated with the appropriate medication. Blood work may be indicated to effectively monitor electrolytes and blood pH.
Carbon monoxide monitors can be purchased at places such as Amazon for approximately thirty-five dollars each. They are a worthwhile consideration in addition to always paying close attention to your pet’s daily routines and behaviors.