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Carbon Monoxide

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Poisonous to: Cats, Dogs

Level of toxicity: Generally moderate to severe, life-threatening

Common signs to watch for:

  • Neurologic impairment (e.g., altered mentation, seizures, coma, deafness)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Acute death

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Carbon monoxide (CO), a poisonous gas that is produced from fires, car exhaust systems, and generators, is toxic to all species. When inhaled in high enough concentrations, it causes oxygen starvation (e.g., hypoxia) to the cells of the body. In dogs and cats, poisoning from carbon monoxide occurs secondary to fires/smoke inhalation or secondary to generator system failures. Carbon monoxide causes the red blood cells not to carry oxygen, and results in severe toxicity to the heart and central nervous system. Signs of poisoning include neurologic impairment (e.g., altered mentation, seizures, coma, deafness), difficulty breathing, or acute death. Treatment includes oxygen therapy and aggressive symptomatic and supportive care.

If you think your dog or cat were exposed to carbon monoxide gas, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately for life-saving treatment advice. Be aware that this gas is poisonous to you also, and take appropriate and careful measures to protect yourself also!

Poison type: Toxic Gases

Alternate names: CO, smoke inhalation, monoxide