Taking care of dogs is like having your own kids. Aside from giving them the proper care, you also need to pay attention to their behavior and safety. In this article, we will discuss how you can protect your dogs from one of the most common dangers at home – contact voltage shock.
Typical Behavior of Dogs
Dogs who tend to destroy and chew on things around the house may be caused by pent-up energy. Owners may be too busy to bring their dogs outside to play and exhaust their energy.
When this happens, dogs would find ways on how to release the energy. Unfortunately, most of the time, this will involve chewing on furniture, carpets, shoes, slippers, curtains, or just practically anything that gets their attention. Unfortunately, it is also possible that your dog can get electrocuted because of this kind of behavior.
What is Contact Voltage?
Contact voltage is a stray electrical current that may be going through any metal structure on the street that is near or in direct contact with an electrical source. It is likely due to loosening by the vibration of construction or the passing of heavy vehicles.
In these situations, electricity that should be running through wires may come in contact with other equipment, which sends a high voltage. This equipment poses a serious hazard to both people and pets, most especially on wet or snowy streets.
Pets are more at risk since, unlike humans who were protective footwear, they would walk on the street with their bare feet.
A Shocked Dog
When we think of buying home appliances, some of the things that we focus on include functionality, brand, cost, and size – basically everything that has to do with how useful it is. However, we may be bypassing the factor that our dogs may be a bit playful and may tend to bite or chew on the wires.
Electrocution – the single most common type of electrical injury in pets – is likely to happen when dogs chew on electrical cords. The dangers of being electrocuted outside of the house are also possible.
Electrocution may result in burns to the mouth and hair. It can also alter the electrical conduction in the muscles, heart and other tissues.
Complications may arise from electric cord bites such as pulmonary edema or fluid retention in the lungs, and high blood pressure in the arteries near the lungs (also called pulmonary hypertension). There had been reports that such injury can also develop cataracts.
Symptoms of Contact Shock in Dogs
The most obvious sign that your dog may have had an electrical injury is burns around your dog’s mouth. You may also notice the loss of its whiskers.
Here are other common indicators that your dog may have been electrocuted:
- Abnormally fast breathing (tachypnea)
- Bluish-tinged skin (cyanosis)
- Crackling sounds in the lungs
- Difficulty breathing (dyspnea)
- Muscle tremors
- Needing to be upright to breathe properly (orthopnea)
- Physical collapse
- Tachycardia (rapid heart rate)
If you suspect that your dog may have experienced electrocution or contact voltage shock, take your dog immediately to the veterinarian for a thorough physical exam. A complete background history of symptoms and other incidents should be provided.
Electrical cord injuries may lead to lungs being filled with pink, foamy fluid. You would also notice tan or gray wounds in and around the mouth.
What To Do When Your Dog Gets Electrocuted
If you happen to witness the electrocution, never think of touching your pet as it is possible that you could also get electrocuted, most especially if your pet was not able to let go of the source.
Move your pet away from the power source or cord by pulling the leash tied around its neck. You may use a piece of cloth in holding the leash if it’s made of conductive material to avoid getting shocked. Immediately call 911 for emergency assistance.
Treatment for Contact Voltage Shock
Your pet may lose consciousness. When this happens, clear its airway and provide breathing assistance or oxygen.
There may be a need to provide crystalloids if the dog suffered from decreased blood or platelet supply. Furosemide can be used to help remove any fluid that accumulated in the lungs.
For burns, antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent possible infection.
How to Avoid Contact Voltage Shock
You can keep yourself and your dog safe from being accidentally electrocuted in the streets by walking your dog away from lit transit shelters, streetlight poles, sewer covers, and handwells.
Always use a leash made of a non-conductive material, such as nylon. Keep it as dry as possible while you walk to avoid being accidentally electrocuted.
It would also be a great help to protect your dog’s feet by letting it wear rubber-padded booties. Aside from protecting your dog’s feet from possible shock, it can also protect from harsh de-icing chemicals.
You may also want to ask your neighbors who may have noticed any peculiar behavior when they are walking their dogs on a particular area nearby. Be aware of any recent accidents that may have occurred in your area, so that you can avoid going near that location and through the same accident.
Keep your family and dogs safe by reporting all suspected contact voltage points to the public utility agency. An investigation should be performed by using a voltmeter to ensure the public’s safety.
Keep doggie treats handy when walking outside with your dog so that it may be easy for you to steer your dog away from suspected places where there are contact voltage spots.
The idea that your dog may get harmed while on the streets may become distressing. You may even no longer feel safe roaming around the street when such incidents happen.
However, if you are equipped with the proper knowledge on how to protect and how to save your dog from such incidents, the risk will be greatly reduced.