Holiday dangers for pets, part 2

Electrical cords pose a danger to pets

[Note: If you missed the first post, click to read Holiday dangers for pets, Part 1]

Mr. Armand was the owner of the pastry shop on Springfield Boulevard, right next door to the pharmacy where I worked at the time. Like clockwork every morning Mr. Armand pulled the big metal gates up over the shop windows, making a sound similar to a freight train. The staff at the French bakery proceeded to prop the front doors open and drag a few tables and chairs out on the sidewalk. Mr. Armand meanwhile diligently prepared delicious pastries such as the mille-feuille, which is my all-time favorite pastry. When I first ordered this custard cream filled desert I called it a Napoleon, but monsieur Armand quickly corrected me saying “Mille-Feuille! Mille-Feuille! What is this Napoleon?”

One day nobody came to open up the pastry shop in the morning and around eleven o’clock, Mr. Armand’s wife came into the pharmacy and told us what had happened to her husband and why he was not at work. Apparently their dog “Chien,” a French poodle, was nibbling on some wires and got a pretty bad shock. Most of these cases result in a burn on the mouth or tongue, but in this case his dog went into respiratory arrest and required CPR. As a result, Mr. Armand ended up spending the day in the veterinarian’s waiting room awaiting news on Chien.

Electrocution
Electrocution from chewing on wires is a very common way that pets get injured each year. Typically, these injuries cause burns to the skin or hair, but sometimes the heart muscles, rhythm, and breathing could become affected. The electrical conduction of the heart itself could get jolted to irregularity. Fluid can also build up around the heart and lungs making breathing difficult.

Young animals are especially vulnerable to this type of injury because they are naturally curious and some have a need to “teeth.” If you observe any of the following symptoms, it’s best to go to your veterinarian immediately:

  • Difficulty breathing or a gurgling sound
  • A bluish appearance to the skin
  • If your pet seems to have a fast breathing rate or is coughing

Early evaluation may be very important for preventing further damage or harm from occurring.

Pet-proof your home
The best thing to do is to prevent an electrical injury from occurring in the first place. Never leave wires exposed or unshielded. If you have a pet, everything in the home should be “pet-proofed,” similar to child-proofing. If a two year old child can get into something, it’s likely a persistent cat or dog can also. To help pet-proof your home, walk around the house and don’t take anything for granted or leave anything to chance. It’s also important to know how to shut the electricity off in different parts of your home. Know the location of the circuit breaker, label everything clearly, and learn how to turn the power off and put the power back on.

To recap, if you suspect anything is wrong with your pet such as a possible electrocution, first make the house safe by shutting off the electricity. Next, take your pet to the veterinarian for a thorough exam which may include an EKG, or your pet may need some wound treatment, depending on the injury. Sometimes a topical burn cream such as Silver Sulfadiazine Cream 1% may be prescribed to be applied topically to any external area that is burned to speed healing.

Luckily Mr. Armand’s pet, Chien, did not suffer long-term damage from the electrical current he received. The veterinarian did mention, however, it’s possible for this kind of shock to cause eye problems such as glaucoma.

This holiday season, our pets are at increased risk for accidents and injuries. One Christmas tree alone contains many feet of wire that could prove quite irresistible to a curious cat or dog. Pet-proof your home to decrease your pet’s risk of injury this holiday season.

As always, if you have any pet medication related questions, please call your 1800PetMeds pharmacist who will be more than happy to help you.

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