Chemical Burns – Rhodes 2 Safety

Burnt Nose Flesh

Chemical Burns – Rhodes 2 Safety

Chemical burns come in all sorts of guises – from our dogs sticking their noses into substances in the garage or garden shed, finding “dumped” chemicals in the undergrowth on our walks, on their paws if they walk through a spilt liquid on the floor or road or may be even with something as seemingly innocent as walking along a salt/gritted road in the winter.
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Anytime that you become aware of a chemical burn, the faster you are able to deal with the problem, the less damage will be inflicted on the animal.
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It is advisable that each time you walk your dog where there is the possibility of him walking on salted/treated roads, always clean and rinse the paws thoroughly (including between the toes and pads) when you return to the house.  Many people who know their dogs are sensitive advocate the use of lavender in the cleaning water to help soothe the skin.
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Once the paws are clean, they should be dried off as normal and inspected to ensure that the surface of the pad is not damaged in any way.  If the skin is not broken but you sense there may be any kind of irritation, its a good idea to wash the foot further to ensure you prevent absorption of the salt any further into the layers of the skin.  Sudocreme and Alovera are both excellent preparations to apply to the skin to soothe and help repair any damage – but please try if possible to stop your dog licking it off (a pair of children’s socks will probably come in very handy here!)
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Even if the salt has not actually damaged the pads, the dog’s natural instinct will be to lick and groom the feet to remove any residue.  Such a high quantity of salt being ingested is very dangerous indeed – even more so for smaller dogs – so please make sure that his feet are cleaned way before he has a chance to clean them himself.  Please remember that the salt levels will build up in his body each time he goes out on a treated road (THIS PROCEDURE SHOULD ALWAYS BE APPLIED FOR OUR FELINE FRIENDS WHEN THEY’VE BEEN OUT TOO!)
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If the chemical that has caused the burn is toxic or corrosive for example an acid, it is vital that the dog’s mouth be rinsed out too, from the side and across the tongue if possible, without the dog swallowing any of the solution.  You can use a wet flannel to wash the tongue, rinsing it between each wash to ensure you are diluting any chemical in the mouth.  If you suspect that your dog has ingested any chemical, please seek immediate veterinary advice urgently as your dog may be poisoned as a result.  (See earlier blog on poisoning).
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Treating a Chemical Burn:
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The golden rule is that if skin dries, it dies, and so if your dog gets a burn such as from a flame, something hot or friction for example, you must run the affected area under cold water for a MINIMUM of 10 minutes.  This minimum time DOUBLES to at least 20 minutes in the case of a chemical burn.  You should continue to rinse and irrigate the surface of the tissue until you are positive you have not only cleaned the surface, but have also water-logged the layers of the dermis so that none of the chemical remains below the surface.  Please only ever use fresh running water to clean the area – NEVER STAND A PAW IN A BOWL – If you try to wash the substance from the paw while in a bowl, all you will do is dilute the chemical throughout the entire contents of the bowl and then be soaking your dog’s foot in a chemical solution.
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Remember that if the burn is on skin beneath the fur, it might well be masked and therefore difficult to determine the size and severity of the burn.  It is often necessary to cut away the fur to expose the area so you can see more clearly what you are dealing with.
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Burns are very painful and it is often sensible to apply a makeshift muzzle to ensure your own safety.
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We can go through the S.C.A.L.D. check list to assess the severity of the burn as follows:-
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S = Size – how big is the burn? Any burn bigger than 1″ square on a large dog needs treatment from a vet so with a small breed, obviously this size guide will be considerably smaller.  Be on the safe side, always seek veterinary advice if your dog has been burned, however small.
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C = Cause – what caused the burn? Some burns are more serious than others and as we have already said, with chemical burns your MINIMUM time under the cold running water DOUBLES to at least 20 minutes to ensure you flush the chemical from the layers of the skin completely.
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A = Age – how old is the dog? Very young, elderly, frail or recently ill dogs need urgent attention
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L = Location – some places on your dog are more dangerous than others. If any of the following locations are damaged then I would always seek veterinary attention immediately:-Muzzle, Eyes, Nose, Windpipe/Throat, Ribcage, Pads, Genitals.
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D = Depth – how deep is the burn? A full thickness burn will be oozing, possibly bleeding and very wet. This is an emergency situation. You should apply a cold wet dressing to the burn, ring your vet and tell him you are coming to the surgery immediately.
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Remember, all the while you are treating your dog and his burns, please be on the look out for signs of shock which are much more dangerous than the burn itself.  Should your dog start displaying any of the shock signs, stabilise him with his rear end elevated, ring your vet and then continue to treat the burn once you have his shock under control.
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If you are ever in doubt as to the severity of a burn, please phone your vet immediately for advice.

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