carbon monoxide poisoning

The Silent Killer: Are Your Pets Safe from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Every year nearly 60 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning in Wales and England.

Carbon monoxide is known as ‘the silent killer’ because you can’t see, taste or smell it. The same risk that applies to you also applies to your beloved pet.

The situations are riskier for pets since they spend most of their time in confined spaces. And because they are smaller than humans, they are more vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning.

CO has six times higher affinity in the blood than oxygen making it an almost instant killer. Here is all you need to know about carbon monoxide exposure to help you protect your pet.

How Carbon Monoxide Poisons Your Pets

When your pet breaths in the carbon monoxide, it gets into its bloodstream through the lungs. When it’s in the blood it mixes with Haemoglobin.

Haemoglobin is a component of your pet’s blood that helps in transporting oxygen. The carbon monoxide present in the bloodstream completely blocks the haemoglobin from carrying or using any oxygen.

The lack of oxygen in the blood then begins to affect all parts of the body as they need it to keep functioning. In essence carbon monoxide inside your pet’s system creates a kind of chemical suffocation.

How Your Pet’s Body Removes Carbon Monoxide

There are only two ways that your pet’s body can get rid of the carbon monoxide that is bound to the haemoglobin.

The first method is by breathing it out. The other alternative is through replacing the haemoglobin. The spleen and liver replace haemoglobin in your pet’s body every ten to 15 days.

If your pet only inhales a small amount of carbon monoxide, then the damage is not as extensive.

Only a little amount of the blood is affected, and as a result, your pet can recover without any treatment. The only thing to watch out for is that it doesn’t breathe in any more carbon monoxide.

When the carbon monoxide level in the blood is high, it can kill your pet. In human beings, a 25% saturation level is considered high. For pets, (& human as well) treatment should begin once the level hits 10% or more.

Small pets are affected more severely by carbon monoxide in the blood than bigger ones.

Signs Your Pet Might Have Been Exposed to Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide affects the cognitive ability of your pet. Since they can’t communicate as humans do, it might be difficult to notice when they are poisoned until it is almost too late.

Here are symptoms to watch out for when you suspect your pet might have inhaled some carbon monoxide.

Sudden Vomiting

Nausea is one of the key symptoms of a pet that has been exposed to carbon monoxide. When you find that your pet starts to vomit inside an enclosed space remove them from the area immediately.

If possible take them outdoors for some fresh air and call the vet immediately.


When your pet is exposed to carbon monoxide their blood oxygen level begins to lower. If it reaches critical enough levels it can deprive the brain of the oxygen it needs.

As a result of the brain not getting any oxygen your pet might begin to have seizures. When this happens, take your pet outside immediately for it to begin breathing fresh air.

Once your pet is outdoors, do not move it any further to avoid risking any unknown damage. The only exception to this is if your pet is in imminent danger.


If you find your pet unenergetic while in an enclosed space, it could indicate exposure to carbon monoxide. In such a case, rush your pet to the vet for first aid for carbon monoxide poisoning.

Breathing Problems

Any time your pet has trouble breathing, it is usually a bad sign. If your pet begins to struggle to breathe while in an enclosed space immediately take them outdoors.

Other signs include:

● Loss of consciousness
● Red lips, ears, and gums
● Lack of coordination

Treating Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The main form of treatment when your pet becomes exposed to carbon monoxide is through a dose of high concentration of oxygen.

When you take your pet to the vet, they will give it oxygen using a facemask. The purpose of the dosage is to get your pet to breathe out a higher amount of gas.

The more the gas it exhales, the more carbon monoxide is removed from its bloodstream.

In some cases, many hours of oxygen therapy may be necessary. The vet might also decide to use ventilation in the process to help your pet breath in the fresh air.

When your pet is severely poisoned the vet will have to use hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Here they will put your pet in a chamber whose pressure is higher than room pressure. They will then pump oxygen with a 100% concentration into the chamber.

The hyperbaric therapy will provide the highest concentration of oxygen dose to your pet. As it inhales and exhales the carbon monoxide levels in its blood will begin to lower.

Preventing Exposure to Carbon Monoxide

It has been said that prevention is better than cure. The best way to keep your pet safe is to avoid exposing it to carbon monoxide in the first place.

Hire professionals to conduct a gas safety check on your premises. Since carbon monoxide is odourless they will use special equipment trace wherever it might be coming from in your house.

If you have any fuel burning devices they should be inspected every year by a professional. Sweep your chimneys and flues at least once a year.

It is also important to fit carbon monoxide detectors in your home to alert you in case of any leak. However, you need to ensure that the detectors meet the latest British (BS Kitemark) or European (EN50291) standard of quality.

Keep Your Pet Safe

Unfortunately, your pets are highly susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning and could lose their lives in a matter of minutes. You must, therefore, take steps to protect them from exposure to the gas.

Parkstone Yorkshire has over 35 years in heating and gas solutions that can help you protect your beloved pets. Get in touch with us today to learn how you can keep carbon monoxide at bay in your home!

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