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Detergent Poisoning in Dogs and Cats
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith
First Aid, Emergencies, & Poisons
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Toxin
Detergents

Source
Detergents are divided into several categories.

Soaps: Bar soaps, laundry soaps, and homemade soaps.

Anionic detergents: Laundry detergents, shampoos, dish soaps, and electric dishwashing detergents.

Cationic detergents: Fabric softeners, sanitizers, disinfectants, and rust inhibitors in petroleum products. This category includes quaternary ammoniums.

Non-ionic detergents: Dishwashing detergents, shampoos, and some laundry detergents.

General Information
Detergents come in a variety of forms with each having a different level of toxicity. Every home has these common products in some form, and all family members need to be aware of the dangers.

Toxic Dose
Soaps: True soaps are usually not toxic.

Anionic: Slightly to moderately toxic; may result in illness but generally not fatalities.

Cationic: Highly to extremely toxic; 1% solutions are damaging to mucous membranes.

Non-ionic: Less toxic than the anionic and cationic detergents.

Signs
Soaps: Vomiting and diarrhea. Homemade soap may cause corrosive GI lesions (burns).

Anionic: Irritated mucous membranes, vomiting, lack of appetite, diarrhea, and GI distention. May have corrosive injuries in the mouth and GI tract. Eye exposure may result in edema around the cornea, reddening and swelling of the conjunctiva, and corneal erosions or ulcers.

Cationic: Vomiting, lack of appetite, drooling, muscle weakness, depression, seizures, collapse, coma, and burns to the mouth and GI tract. Eye exposure may cause redness and severe corneal erosions and ulcers. Skin exposure may result in hair loss and skin irritation.

Non-ionic: Vomiting and diarrhea.

Immediate Action
DO NOT induce vomiting if ingested. It may cause more harm. Seek veterinary attention. In the case of dermal contact, flush the skin for at least 30 minutes with running water. In the case of eye contact, flush the eye with sterile saline or water for 20 minutes. Seek veterinary attention while you are performing the decontamination.

Veterinary Care
General treatment: Administration of milk or water in the case of soap, anionic, or non-ionic detergent ingestion, or administration of milk, water, or egg whites in the case of cationic detergent ingestion. If dermal (skin) or ocular exposure occurred, the affected areas will continue to be flushed with sterile saline.

Supportive treatment: Pain medication may be administered, hydration is maintained through IV fluids, and other treatments for symptoms may be given.

Specific treatment: Unavailable.

Prognosis
Fair to good, depending on detergent ingested.

 

Keep this and all other medications out of the reach of children and pets.


If you think your pet has been poisoned...

Contact your veterinarian or one of the Animal Poison Hotlines (listed below) if you think your pet may have accidentally received or been given an overdose of the medication.

**ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center

1-888-4ANI-HELP (1-888-426-4435). $65.00 per case, billed to caller's credit card.

Follow-up calls can be made for no additional charge by dialing 888-299-2973.

There is no charge when the call involves a product covered by the Animal Product Safety Service.

**Pet Poison Helpline - 24-hour service available throughout North America for pet owners and veterinary professionals who require assistance with treating a potentially poisoned pet.

1-800-213-6680 ($35.00 per incident). Staffed 24-hours a day.


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