Electrocution in Dogs

Puppies chew to find out about the world and relieve the itch of teething.  Older dogs chew to find out about the world or out of boredom.  Sometimes, they chew an electrical cord and are electrocuted.  This is a very serious injury requiring immediate veterinary care.  These kind of injuries can lead to fluid in the lungs, burns on the mouth and surrounding areas, heart problems, and cataracts.

The first and most obvious indication of an electrical cord injury is burns around and in the dogs mouth.  Singed whiskers also signal this type of injury.  Your dog may also have trouble breathing and have shortness of breath.  If your dog’s heart rate is elevated, he has muscle tremors, seizures, or collapses, this may be the cause.  Other symptoms are coughing, abnormally fast breathing, needing to be upright to breathe, crackling sounds in the lungs, and bluish tinged skin.

Most injuries of this type strike dogs two years of age or under.  Older dogs are not as likely to chew on things and electrocute themselves.

When you arrive at the veterinarian, he will perform a through physical exam on the dog.  The symptoms listed above are not unique to electrical cord injury.  Your veterinarian will have to rule out other things such as preexisting heart disease, swallowing rodent poison, and other problems.  An electrocardiogram can exam the heart’s rhythms and see if there are any abnormalities in them.  A blood coagulation test can rule out rodent poison.  Usually, with electrocution, the lungs are filled with a pink, foamy fluid.  There are often tan or gray wounds around the mouth or inside it, and the heart lining gets areas with red spots on it.

If you see your puppy or dog get electrocuted, make sure you turn off the electricity before touching your dog, or you could get electrocuted, too.  If your dog is unconscious, clear the dog’s airway.  If necessary, provide cpr on your dog until you can get him breathing again or reach the veterinarian’s office.

Once there, the veterinarian will run the tests mentioned above.  If the dog has suffered a decreased blood or platelet supply, it will have to be treated with a transfusion or with special fluids such as crystalloids or colloids.  Fluid in the lungs can be treated with diuretics.  Your dog may also have to be treated for irregular heartbeat.  Your dog can usually go home from the hospital the same day, but may have to stay longer if complications develop.

Once the dog is home, you will have to feed him soft foods until the mouth wounds heal.  You will also have to make sure they do not become infected.  If they do become infected, the infection can eat a hole between the dog’s mouth and his nasal cavities, requiring surgery to repair.

The best way to treat electrical cord injuries is to prevent them.  Regularly check your electrical cords for any breaks in the insulation and throw those away.  A dog might accidentally brush against them and electrocute himself.  Keep puppies away from electrical cords and outlets.  Using child proofing materials will help you do this.