Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless, and invisible. We’ve all heard of the dangers CO poses to humans, but rarely does pet carbon monoxide poisoning make the news.
Did you know that small children and animals can die of carbon monoxide poisoning inside an enclosed vehicle in less than fifteen minutes? When carbon monoxide is inhaled, it instantaneously reduces oxygen delivery to the body, including the brain. Because it so quickly affects the cognitive functions of its victims, carbon monoxide poisoning can be difficult to spot until it’s too late.
Here are five signs your pet might be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.
If your dog or cat is listless, something is amiss, particularly if you found them this way in an enclosed space. In any situation – carbon monoxide or not – immediately take a truly lethargic animal to an emergency vet’s office for potentially life-saving treatment.
2. Sudden Vomiting
One of the primary symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure in both pets and humans is nausea. If your pet suddenly begins vomiting inside an enclosed space or if you find that they have vomited and are now weak and/or lethargic, remove them from the space and call your vet immediately.
3. Difficulty Breathing
An animal having trouble breathing is almost always something serious. Immediately move the animals outdoors where he can breathe in as much oxygen as possible. Because carbon monoxide so readily affects the lungs, breathing difficulties often occur before sufferers lose consciousness.
In those suffering from CO poisoning, seizures are common. They result from oxygen loss to the brain and can be indicative of a more serious condition. Other than to get the pet outside where he can breathe in more oxygen, try to avoid moving an animal having a seizure unless he is in imminent danger.
5. Loss of Consciousness
The final stage of acute carbon monoxide poisoning is loss of consciousness. Most humans who die of carbon monoxide poisoning do so because they reach a point where their brain can’t tell them something’s wrong. If your dog or cat can’t be roused, rush them to an emergency vet.
Pets are most likely to suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning in rooms with gas heating systems, closed garages, and in running vehicles. If you suspect your pet has been exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide, there are treatment options if you can get him to the vet in time.
Remember that any noticeable change in your pet should always be evaluated by a trained veterinarian. You know your pet best. If something’s up, ask questions.