Electrical Injuries in Dogs

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Injuries from electrocution or electric shock are the result of injury to nerve cells and the intense heat generated as the electricity passes through the body tissues. The most common source of electrical injury to dogs is when they bite electrical cords carrying low voltage household currents. This is most common in cats, puppies and kittens.

Exposure to high voltage electrical current is uncommon and is usually fatal due to massive internal damage.

When your dog bites on a live electric cord, he will have burns within the mouth, lips or tongue.

What to Watch For

  • Seizures
  • Mouth burns
  • Breathing difficulty or cessation of breathing
  • Sudden death from cardiac arrest

    Diagnosis

    Electrical injuries are diagnosed based on a history of possible exposure to electric cords, burns in the mouth and possible breathing problems. Expect your veterinarian to take x-rays of the chest to look for signs of fluid accumulation in the lungs. This is a possible result of electrical injury.

    Treatment

    Call your veterinarian for prompt treatment of electrical injuries. If burns are present in the mouth, the affected area will be cleaned and medications such as antibiotics may be prescribed. If there is fluid accumulation within the lungs, treatment with diuretics such as furosemide may be indicated, although this is not always necessary. Depending on the severity of the injuries, hospitalization with possible oxygen support may be needed. If the patient is in shock, intravenous fluid support may be indicated.

    Home Care and Prevention

    There is no recommended home care for electrical injury.

    To prevent electrocution, keep all electric cords in a safe area and away from your curious dogs. Periodic checks of electric cords for teeth marks can alert you to a potential problem. If you find teeth marks on electric cords, unplug the cord and have it replaced. Make sure that electric cords are kept out of the reach of your dogs.

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