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Kerosene Heaters and Use Precautions for Dogs

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In these chilly seasons upon us, many of us will begin using alternative heat sources, such as kerosene heaters to add warmth to our environments without destroying our budgets. When using these devices, it is imperative to remember the safety of our dogs and other pets, as well as ourselves.
Kerosene heaters give off carbon monoxide fumes. They are odorless, colorless, and tasteless, yet deadly when reaching toxic levels in the bloodstream. These fumes are produced through an incomplete combustion of carbon fuels. When inhaled, it is absorbed into the blood and combines with hemoglobin to form carboxyhemoglobin and decreases the amount of oxygen delivered to the body’s organs (including the brain and the heart). Toxicity is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention by your veterinarian, if your dog becomes affected. Your veterinarian will need to replenish your dog’s oxygen needs, as well as perform diagnostic tests through blood work and urinalysis.
Prolonged exposure to alternative heat sources, such as kerosene heaters, can increase the risk of nasal tumors due to the absorption of fumes through the membranes. Dogs with longer muzzles are particularly susceptible due to breathing through their noses. Inhaling these fumes may also cause your dog to vomit blood and can also cause an unusual odor to their breath; dizziness and stumbling. Secondary Pneumonia is also a concern as the hydrocarbon fumes tend to burn mucous membranes and replace the air in the lungs, creating a potential risk of seizures and behavioral situations (seeming depressed, over-excited, confusion, and the possibility of a negative reaction toward other dogs and people).
Many organs, such as the heart, liver, and kidneys can be affected by exposure to Kerosene heater fumes due to the air replacement in the lungs. The fumes result in a slow shutdown of your dog’s body systems and sudden death can occur from repeated and prolonged kerosene heater fume exposure.
Toxicity in our dogs, as well as in other animals, is the fault of human beings. Remember that your dog is more susceptible to toxic substances and fumes far quicker than a person is. If the use of an alternative heat source, such as a kerosene heater is necessary, proper ventilation is a must. Frequent exits of the area should be kept a priority for dogs, other animals, and the human beings that they rely on to stay safe and well.

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