Alkaline substances are typically compounds that measure above 7 on the pH meter. When alkalis reach a pH of 11, they can be toxic to pets and humans. These substances are also called bases and constitute many home products we frequently use, such as bleach, detergent, hair relaxer, dish cleaners, lye, pool chemicals, and alkaline batteries. Because of easy accessibility, alkaline poisoning is one of the most common types of poisoning pet’s encounter. 

Why Are Alkaline Substances Dangerous? 

Unlike acidic compounds, alkaline products typically have an almost imperceptible taste and odor and are considerably less corrosive. However, they are very much like acids in that both substances can cause severe burns, ulcerations, and serious tissue damage if ingested. Moreover, because alkaline substances do not cause immediate pain, there is a greater chance of your pet ingesting a larger quantity before symptoms develop. 

In large amounts, this prolonged exposure can cause extensive damage to cellular tissue and organs, even more than acids. In the case of alkaline batteries, if your pet chews on or swallows them, the batteries can also cause other discomforts by obstructing the gastrointestinal tract. 

Symptoms Of Alkaline Poisoning 

Alkaline poisoning symptoms from ulcerations and inflammation may develop within 2-4 hours, but it may take up to 12 hours for the full extent of damage to become apparent. Symptoms to watch out for include: 

  • Drooling  
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Pawing at the mouth 
  • Mouth ulcers 
  • Red squinting eyes 
  • Difficulty swallowing 
  • Vomiting 
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Bloody stool 
  • Lethargy 

Treatment Of Alkaline Poisoning 

Although there is no antidote for alkaline poisoning, your first move if your pet gets into an alkaline poisoning situation should be to call Pet Poison Helpline® or drive your furry friend to the nearest vet clinic as soon as possible. 

Your veterinarian may: 

  • Recommend oxygen support to help with breathing difficulties. 
  • Administer pain medications and antibiotics intravenously to soothe the pain. 
  • Apply a feeding tube to help your pet drink and eat while the burns heal. 
  • Recommend surgery if rupture to the stomach and intestine is too far gone. 

You should not try to induce vomiting if your companion mistakenly consumes an alkaline substance because this can lead to more exposure and further burns to the stomach and esophagus. If your pet is exhibiting any of the above symptoms and you suspect alkaline poisoning, do not hesitate to call Pet Poison Helpline® at (855) 764-7661 and your veterinarian for professional advice to help your beloved pet.