If a dog chews an electrical cord, the outcome may vary from a a little jolt to a deadly shock. What happens often depends on the amount of current flowing and the length of time it's allowed to flow. If your puppy or dog chewed on an electrical cord, please see your vet immediately as there are possibilities for complications occurring later on. As with other problems, prevention is worth a pound of cure and therefore the best option to prevent dogs from chewing electrical cords is to simply keep them out of reach. "Out of sight, out of mind," goes the saying and it's doesn't get any more true than that.
Warning: If you ever happen to notice your dog still has the electrical cord in his mouth, make sure you turn off the power before helping your dog. You don't want to get electrocuted as well!
Let's face it, there is nothing really good going on when a dog chews an electrical cord, but the good news about puppies or dogs chewing on an electrical cord is that in many cases they survive without any major complications. Often, there is not enough current flowing to cause major problems and the affected puppies and dogs just seem to do fine.
Although it's ideal to see the emergency vet after a dog chews an electrical cord, if your dog is stable, you can choose to monitor your dog overnight, making sure to check on him every 30 minutes for any signs of trouble, says veterinarian Dr. B. J Hughes.
While this option may be feasible for owners of dogs showing no signs of trouble and living in the city, it might not be a good idea for those dog owners living in the boonies who aren't lucky to have a 24/7 emergency veterinarian that's reachable within minutes.
For dog owners who choose to monitor at home, it's important to keep in mind that certain complication may not not show up right away, but rather several hours after the accidents. This is why it is imperative to monitor the puppy or dog carefully for several hours after the fact. See below for signs of trouble to watch for.
One bad consequence when a dog chews an electrical cord is burning. Affected puppies or dog can get burns on the roof of their mouth, lips and tongue. This burning is painful and the affected puppies may be unable to eat for some time. Feeding soft foods may be a good idea to ease this type of pain, suggests veterinarian Dr. B.
These burns may not be evident immediately after the incident, rather, they can be delayed, often showing up only 24 to 48 hours later, points out veterinarian Dr. Joey. The area may initially look slightly irritated, but then, it may progress to becoming ulcerated and start bleeding. These damages may show up as dark areas in the dog's mouth and the affected dog may sometimes have facial swelling and drooling.
Electrical burns in the dog's mouth require veterinary attention as they are very painful and can become inflamed and potentially infected. In severe mouth burns in dogs, mouth tissue can die and slough off.
The worse consequence of a dog chewing an electrical cord is, of course, death by electrocution, but dogs who happen to survive the shock may be prone to complications such as abnormal heart activity, seizures and fluid build-up in the lungs, a condition known as non-cardiogenic pulmonary edema.
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These complications may occur hours (generally up to 48 hours) after the fact which is why it's important seeing the vet even if your dog isn't showing any signs of trouble.
"One of the biggest problems after a shock is pulmonary edema...the lungs get fluid in them. If respirations are not elevated and the puppy is responsive I would watch closely over the next several hours for any change...and proceed to the vet if the puppy is not returning to normal or respirations become labored."~ Dr. Vamvakias
What to Do if Your Dog Chews an Electrical Cord
If your dog chews an electrical cord, you want to check the color of his gums. This will give you an idea of how good his circulation is and whether he is in shock. Gums are normally a nice, bubble-gum pink, so if you notice white or gray or bluish gums, you want to rush to your nearest veterinarian immediately.
You should also head to your vet immediately if your dog is panting, breathing fast, coughing or having trouble breathing. Keeping an eye on your dog's respiratory rate while he's calm, is therefore important. You can do this by counting your dog's chest motions for 10 seconds and then multiplying that number by 6 to obtain how often your dog breaths in a minute. Normal respiratory rate in dogs is generally between 18 and 34 breaths per minute.
On top of signs of trouble associated with electrical shock, dog owners may have to also monitor for signs of a blockage if the puppy or dog managed to eat parts of the electrical cord. See your vet if your dog is vomiting, has abdominal pain, diarrhea and trouble passing stools.
And if your power cord has copper wiring, you may also want to consult with your vet. When a dog ingests copper, this is quite toxic and can potentially cause the red blood cells to rupture, warns veterinarian Dr. Lee.
At the Vet's Office
If your puppy or dog got exposed to electrical current, your vet will likely check your dog all over. He will check the color of your dog's gums and his breathing and heart rate.
He will take a look at the mouth, tongue and lips for any evident signs of burns. Certain mouth burns in dogs may require pain medication, anti-inflammatory drugs and a course of antibiotics to heal up any ulcerated skin.
Your veterinarian may suggest chest x-rays to make sure his lungs look normal and an electrocardiogram just to check the heart. Because of the risks for complications setting in hours after the fact, your vet may suggest observing your puppy or dog at the hospital for up to 48 hours.
If the dog shows signs of pulmonary edema, the vet will start oxygen therapy right away. Intravenous diuretics may be given for severe cases.
As seen, chewing on electrical cords can be quite a painful experiences and treatment can be expensive too! Keep those cords out of reach or invest in products that protect your pup from chewing on them. You may also find it helpful to enroll in a pet first aid class. Your dog and your wallet will thank you!