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Alkalis

Poisonous to: Cats, Dogs

Level of toxicity: Generally moderate to severe

Common signs to watch for:

  • Drooling
  • Pawing at mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Ulcerations in the mouth
  • Squinting of eyes
  • Redness of the exposed area
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain

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Alkaline substances, which are also called bases, have a pH > 7. When pets are exposed to alkalis, it can result in a range from mild tissue irritation to severe corrosive or caustic injury (based on how dilute the product is). Common bases found in the household include bleach, automatic dishwasher detergents, hair relaxers, oven cleaners, lye, drain cleaners, cement, and dairy and industrial pipe cleaners. Alkaline products typically have little taste or odor, making larger ingestions more likely to occur and more dangerous (compared to acids, which cause immediate intense pain). Severe injury to the eyes, skin, gastrointestinal tract, and respiratory system can be seen. Treatment includes immediate decontamination (by flushing the exposed area), anti-ulcer medication, fluid therapy, and symptomatic supportive care. Severe poisoning can result in rupture or perforation of the intestines, or severe tissue injury. Immediate veterinary attention is recommended.

Poison type: Household Items

Alternate names: alkaline, pH, base, sodium hypochlorite, bleach, dishwasher detergent, batteries, dry cell, cement, drain cleaner, hair relaxer, lye, oven cleaner, Danger, caustic, hydroxide