The Dangers of Batteries and Your Pets: What You Should Know

April 4, 2018

a pitbull looking concerned

It’s a well-known fact that dogs inherently love to chew and will chew on just about anything they can. One thing that dogs may get their paws on is a battery. If you think about it, batteries are found almost everywhere in homes today; toys, remotes, keys, hearing aids, watches and even some greeting cards. So there’s ample opportunity for dogs to get into trouble! The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) wants to make sure that you have all the facts when it comes to battery safety so you can keep your pets from getting into trouble. 

What makes batteries so dangerous to pets?

Battery ingestion can be seriously dangerous to your pet. When chewed or punctured, alkaline batteries leak a caustic substance that can burn your pet’s mouth, esophagus or stomach. 

If your pet swallows a portion of a battery, or a whole battery, it can cause an obstruction or blockage in their intestines. Disc batteries—those small round button-sized batteries—also pose an additional concern: they can get lodged in your pet’s esophagus and cause burns even if not punctured.

What signs should you look for if you believe your pet ingested batteries?   

If your pet has punctured or swallowed a battery you may see several problems. If your pet punctured a battery they may be drooling, refusing to eat or have bad breath. You may even notice a grey or bright red area in your pet’s mouth where the burn occurred.  

If the battery is swallowed and a burn has occurred in the esophagus or stomach, or if there is an obstruction, your pet may develop vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain (signs will include a hunched back or an inability to lay down and get comfortable) or refusal to eat.  

What steps can you take to treat battery ingestion?

While preventing your pet from getting into batteries is ideal, we all know that accidents happen, and the good news is that battery ingestion is treatable! 

If your pet has been exposed to a battery, first remove it from your pet’s space, so there is no further contact. If your pet is not yet showing any symptoms and the exposure just occurred, offer them a small amount of milk or water, then call APCC or your veterinarian for further instructions.  

While burns may occur within one to two hours, the full extent of the injury or complications may not be seen for a full 24 hours. Keep in mind, it is much easier to treat these cases when problems are caught earlier, so don’t wait if you believe your pet has ingested batteries.  

Fortunately, our feline friends don’t seem to share the same affection for batteries as our canine friends do. But for those more adventurous felines, the concerns, problems and recommendations are the same.

If you suspect your pet has been exposed to any poisonous substances, contact your veterinarian or call Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) at 888-426-4435 immediately.