My Dog Ate a Battery! Is it Poisonous?


So you come home to find your beloved dog has chewed the remote control or you child’s toy. Is it poisonous? Batteries vary in type and size, so it is important first to ascertain which type of battery your dog has chewed or swallowed.

Things to Ascertain Before calling the Vet.

1/ Think carefully, is the battery a button/disc type or is it a common alkaline pencil battery such as the D, C, AA, AAA or even the square shaped 9 volt DC battery. Is it a rechargeable battery.

2/ Has your dog just chewed the battery (and maybe left it on the floor) or has it swallowed it?

These questions are important because if your dog has chewed the battery, some batteries can cause the acids in the stomach to act quicker, possibly burning the lining of the stomach and your visit to the vet will need to be quicker.

You may also find that your dog has mouth burns, so check for redness around the tongue and gums, but DO NOT RUB.

WARNING

Do NOT attempt to make your dog vomit. If they should vomit of their own accord, all well and good but no attempt should be made by you to induce them to bring up anything they may have swallowed.

Different Battery Types Cause Different Problems

The most common batteries ingested by dogs are alkaline dry cell batteries (e.g., 9-volt, D, C, AA, AAA), lithium button/disc batteries and rechargeable batteries which contain heavy metals such as Nickel or Cadmium.

Each type of battery comes with its own different issues if chewed or swallowed by a dog, and the length of time to which the battery has been ingested may also come into play as stomach acid can exacerbate any problems.

Another problem may be blockage of the trachea, gut or intestines or indeed tearing of the linings if the chewed battery now has sharp edges.

And one last small possibility is that the dog has inhaled a very small battery, such as those used in hearing aids or watches.

Standard Alkaline Batteries AA, AAA etc.

Set of Alkaline batteries (from left to right): D, C, AA, AAA and PP3 (9V)

Most Alkaline type batteries contain sodium or potassium hydroxide. If these elements leak into the internal gut tissues a process of liquefactive necrosis can occur.

This means that the tissue linings can be killed and the dead tissue suffers partial or complete dissolution turning dead tissue into a viscous mass (liquifying). This process can occur within hours dependant upon how much battery acid has leaked.

At the very least ulcers can occur at worst surgery will be needed to remove any affected area.

Button or Disc Batteries

Lithium batteries come in many sizes

These Disc shaped batteries are often made of lithium and are considered to be the most dangerous. Small as they are they can create internal burning to the inner linings within a couple of hours causing severe necrosis.

The other obvious problem with these disc batteries is choking or blockage (partial or full) of the gut or intestine tract.

One more potentially serious effect of these disc batteries is current induced necrosis. In basics the battery can cause electrical shock to the gut as the positive and minus segments of the battery discharge their power while they travel through the internal organs involved. A 3- volt battery can cause severe necrosis in less than an hour.

If any of these tiny disc batteries are inhaled they can also cause infections if left undiscovered.

Heavy Metal Batteries (Rechargeable)

This rechargeable battery comes from a child’s R.C. Carnote the label tells you Nickel Cadmium

Some batteries, like rechargeable batteries contain heavy metals such as zinc, mercury, lead, cobalt, nickel or even cadmium. When these batteries are ingested by your dog, Heavy Metal Toxicity can occur.

This however only usually occurs if the battery is in the gastrointestinal tract for more than 2 or 3 days.

Treatment for Swallowing Batteries

Here at Top Lap Dogs we would recommend that you seek veterinary attention immediately, advising them about what type of battery your dog has eaten and what timeframe you think it may be since it was swallowed.

VERY IMPORTANT: If you think your dog has swallowed a battery, do not try to Induce vomiting. Vomiting may cause severe damage to the linings of the throat and stomach and stomach entry (oesophagus).

The vet will perform a thorough oral exam and physical exam, and flush any necessary areas with a medicated solution suitable for the purpose.

 Cat scans or X-rays will be taken to look for the presence of any battery in the trachea, stomach or intestine.

If found then the vet will remove the battery promptly. Hopefully using endoscopy otherwise surgery may be necessary.

Once the battery has been successfully removed, your vet will likely give you an anti-ulcer medication and prescribe a bland or high-fibre diet.

Prevention Better Than Cure

Prevention at this stage is obviously too late. However if you are thinking ahead and you know that your dog likes to chew things then obviously keep things like TV remotes up high out of reach and keep things like power tools and kids toys locked up or put away.

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