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It is said that although we rarely detect the smell of sugar in our morning coffee, a dog can detect a spoonful of sugar in an Olympic-sized swimming pool of water! Because of that, toxic fumes can be much more deadly to our canine and feline pals.

Inhaled Poisons

Inhaled poisons can include aerosol sprays, carbon monoxide, gases, and other fumes inhaled into your pet’s lungs.

Bleaches, detergents, and disinfectants are the most likely household chemicals to cause a problem, so be hyper-vigilant and keep pets away from these chemicals by securing them before, during, and after cleaning time. Pool/spa chemicals are also common causes of inhalation poisonings. Keep these products safely contained as well.  

Be sure to get all pets out of the home, for at least 24 hours, when any pest control is used, even if it says “safe” or “pet friendly.”  Ask for a guarantee in writing as due diligence. If a company won’t put it in writing, it may not be as safe as they claim.  Also important to note is that “Animal Safe” does not necessarily mean safe for ALL species!

If your pet inhales toxic fumes, assume that his airways are inflamed. Most inhaled poisons will cause difficulty breathing. However, below are additional signs and symptoms to watch your pet for:

Signs & Symptoms of Inhaled Poisons in Pets

  • Breathing difficulty or distress
  • Sneezing, coughing, irritated or runny eyes
  • Excessive salivation or vomiting
  • Twitching or seizures
  • Collapse

What to Do

If you believe your pet has been in contact with poisonous materials consider taking the following steps:

  • Move the ailing pet to a well-ventilated area and monitor his breathing. Count the inhalations and exhalations to determine if they are in the normal range (10-30 breaths per minute for medium to large dogs; 20-40 bpm for small dogs and cats) and/or labored.  Do not return your pets to the house or contaminated room until it is well aired out!
  • Begin rescue breathing should the pet go into pulmonary arrest by holding the mouth closed and breathing into the nostrils every 2-3 seconds; smaller, quicker puff breaths for puppies and kittens.
  • If there is no pulse, begin CPR and get to a veterinary for help at once. If the pet stops breathing, the heart will stop as well if he doesn’t resume spontaneous inhalations.

Don’t be caught unprepared when your pet needs you the most.

Pets can also be poisoned by toxins they ingest, toxins they absorb through their paw pads, nose or skin, and toxins that are injected under the skin (i.e. insect stings). Supervise your pet, keep the scene safe, and know what to do in case your pet becomes poisoned. Consider learning Pet First Aid, just in case the worst happens.

Be sure to also check out our guides for injected poisons and ingested poisons.

Consider Investing in Pet Insurance 

Looking for more ways to keep your pets happy and healthy? Consider investing in a pet insurance policy with MetLife Pet Insurance.1  Learn more about our dog insurance and cat insurance policies or get your free quote today. 

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances. 

1 Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.