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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

First Aid Condition

First aid health condition




Condition Overview

Carbon monoxide poisoning is commonly found in car exhaust, improperly vented furnaces, and smoke from fires, because it is a natural by-product of fuel combustion.


Pets act drunk or confused and lethargic as the brain becomes starved for oxygen. The classic sign of carbon monoxide poisoning is bright cherry red gums, but pets will also have labored breathing, deafness, and seizures.


See overview.


Diagnosis is made by examining symptoms.


The only antidote to the poison is oxygen therapy, which allows the body to get rid of the gas. First aid followed by immediate medical care may save your pets life.

  1. Remove your pet from the source of the carbon monoxide - Get him into the fresh outside air. When only a small amount of blood has been contaminated (less than 10%) pets recover simply by breathing clean air. Most of the time, these dogs and cats may act sleepy and woozy, but they remain conscious and return to normal within a day. If your pet has any of these symptoms, take him to the vet.

  2. Be ready to help your pet breathe - A blood gas level of 25% carbon monoxide is potentially deadly. Pets often lose consciousness or stop breathing. Pets who stop breathing need oxygenated air immediately, so be prepared to give artificial respiration. Hold your pet's mouth closed with one hand, cover his nose with your mouth, and blow into his nostrils until you see his chest expand. Try 2 quick breaths and watch to see if his chest rises. NOTE: Be sure that you don't breathe in the air that your pet exhales. You'll need to give 15 - 20 breaths per minute until your pet starts breathing again on his own or until you reach medical help.


Do not leave dogs inside cars that are running with the windows closed. Be sure to use proper venting techniques for all furnaces and propane stoves.


Contact your veterinarian if you need further assistance with this condition. If your pet does not regain consciousness quickly, you will want to go to your veterinarian immediately.

Show Sources & Contributors +


The First Aid Companion for Dogs And Cats

Publisher: Rodale Inc, 2001

Website: http://www.rodalebooks.com/

Authors: Amy D. Shojai, Shane Bateman DVM

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