15 Jul My Dog Ate Firelighters
Chilly winter weather has many households lighting fires, and the Animal Poisons Helpline has started receiving calls about dogs ingesting firelighters and matches.
Traditional white cubed firelighters are typically comprised of a urea-formaldehyde resin. The cubes are soaked in a flammable hydrocarbon, such as kerosene, which gives firelighters their characteristic smell and oily texture. Some dogs seem to be attracted to firelighters and have been known to ingest large quantities if given access to the packet.
Pets that ingest firelighters can develop gastrointestinal upset which may include drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and refusal to eat. If large fragments are swallowed, there may also be a risk of obstruction if these pieces have trouble passing through the stomach or bowel.
Matches can also be an obstruction risk and sharp splinters of wood can potentially result in injury on the way down. The red material on match heads generally contains small quantities of chlorate salts. If ingested in large enough amounts, chlorates can cause damage to red blood cells which may limit the ability of the blood to carry oxygen around the body.
☎ If your pet has ingested matches or firelighters, please phone the Animal Poisons Helpline on 1300 869 738 (AU) or 0800 869 738 (NZ) for advice.
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