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What to Do if My Dog Eats a Battery?

What to Do if My Dog Eats a Battery?

Dogs eat things all the time and usually, there is nothing to worry about, but there may be times when your pup eats something they shouldn't like batteries. Here, our Lacey vets talk about why your dog may eat a battery, how the type of battery affects the outcome and what to do if your dog decides to eat one.

My Dog Chewed on a Battery, Why?

Dogs love to chew on things which can lead to them eating things that shouldn't be eaten. They don't eat batteries because they taste good, but rather because they're interesting and unusual to dogs, and dogs are curious creatures.

In addition to that, some breeds of dogs, such as Labradors, just really love to eat and chew on anything and everything.

The chances of dogs eating or chewing batteries are also fairly high because many household items like remote controls, watches, toys, hearing aids, and smoke alarms contain them.

Can Different Batteries Cause Different Problems

So what happens when a dog eats a battery? The most common batteries ingested by dogs are alkaline dry cell batteries (e.g., 9-volt, D, C, AA, AAA) or button/disc batteries. Each type of battery comes with different issues if chewed or swallowed by a dog. 

Alkaline Batteries

When swallowed, alkaline batteries can cause irritation or obstruction in the dog's digestive tract. When chewed, they can also cause some chemical burns in their mouth.

The majority of household alkaline batteries contain potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide. When these compounds come into contact with the dog's internal tissues, liquefaction necrosis will eventually occur, causing deeply penetrating ulcers.

Disc Batteries

Disc-shaped or button batteries can allow an electric current to pass to the tissues of the gastrointestinal tract. This may result in a condition called current-induced necrosis, which can cause perforation of the mouth, esophagus, stomach or small intestine.

Lithium button batteries are the most dangerous. Just one 3-volt battery can result in severe necrosis to the esophagus or gastrointestinal tract within 15 to 30 minutes.

Heavy Metals

Certain batteries contain heavy metals (like zinc, mercury, lead, cobalt, nickel or cadmium). When these types of batteries are ingested, heavy metal toxicity can occur. This is rare, and usually only happens if the battery remains in the gastrointestinal tract for more than 2 or 3 days.

What to if Your Dog Eats a Battery

Whatever type of battery your dog eats, it's essential that you seek veterinary attention immediately.

IMPORTANT: If you suspect your dog has swallowed a battery, do not try to Induce vomiting. Vomiting may cause corrosive injury to the esophagus and oropharynx.

Bring your dog to the nearest emergency vet right away for care. The vet will perform a thorough oral and physical exam, and flush and lavage the mouth thoroughly. X-rays will be taken to look for the presence of the battery in the stomach.

To prevent corrosive injury, the battery should be removed promptly. The use of endoscopy or surgery may be necessary.

Once the battery is removed, follow-up treatment may include anti-ulcer medication and a bland or high-fiber diet.

How to Prevent Dogs From Eating a Battery

To prevent your dog from chewing or eating batteries in the first place, keep battery packages, remote controls, household appliances and toys that contain batteries out of reach in secured cupboards or drawers.

Allow your dog to play with toys that contain batteries only under careful supervision supervision, and remove the battery right away if the dog “kills” the toy. Disposing of destroyed toys is also usually a good way to prevent choking.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog has eaten a battery you should contact our Lacey emergency vets right away.

Walk-in Patients Welcome

At Olympia Pet Emergency, you can always access our full complement of emergency services without an appointment. We treat both walk-in patients and referrals for urgent veterinary care.

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