13 May Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
As we are now heading into cooler weather, many of you will be switching on gas heaters and fireplaces to keep warm. This winter, it’s important to be aware of the risks of carbon monoxide and what you can do to prevent this odourless, colourless, and highly toxic gas from filling your home.
Carbon monoxide is produced from the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons such as natural gas, LPG, petrol, and diesel. Whilst most cases of carbon monoxide poisoning in animals are the result of house fires, the gas may also reach toxic levels from:
☠️ Faulty or inadequately vented indoor natural gas appliances (such as indoor gas heaters and gas fireplaces).
☠️ Outdoor LPG appliances (such as outdoor patio heaters and barbecues) that are brought indoors.
☠️ Open charcoal burners (such as outdoor charcoal barbecues) that are brought indoors.
☠️ Running combustion engines (such as a car, portable generator, or petrol mower) in an enclosed space.
Carbon monoxide is toxic because it reduces the ability of the blood to deliver oxygen to the body. Signs in animals poisoned by carbon monoxide can be vague and may include vomiting, unsteadiness on the feet, weakness, increased breathing rate and even seizures and/or coma with severe poisonings. Birds are particularly sensitive to inhaled toxins such as carbon monoxide.
To reduce the risk of carbon monoxide exposure in your house this winter:
✅ Ensure your indoor gas heater is serviced regularly as per the manufacturers recommendations.
✅ Never operate outdoor gas heaters, barbecues, or charcoal burners indoors.
✅ Do not leave pets in an enclosed space with a running car or other combustion engine.
✅ Purchase and install a carbon monoxide detector. These are not expensive and are readily available at hardware stores.
☎️ If your pet has been exposed to a poison, please phone the Animal Poisons Helpline 1300 869 738 (AU) or 0800 869 738 (NZ) for advice. The Animal Poisons Helpline provides a free service for all pet owners in Australia and New Zealand, and we can rapidly determine if your pet requires immediate veterinary assessment or can be observed at home.
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This post has been made possible by a grant from Animal Welfare Victoria.