Carbon Monoxide Poisoning and Cats
by Elisa Black-Taylor
Good morning readers. Today I’d like to talk about a subject we all need to be aware of, especially with the time of year when the weather is cold. I’m talking about carbon monoxide poisoning and the danger to cats. This information also holds true for humans and dogs (who are affected worse than cats).
First of all let me say that everyone needs a carbon monoxide detector. Many models come with a built in smoke detector so it’s money well spent.
Pricing starts at under $20 for the basic detector. This page has a long list of them at various prices (North American market)
It’s important to throw open a window and evacuate the area when the detector goes off. Most are programmed to sound an alarm at 70ppm (minimum of one hour) or sooner at higher levels. This is a level where the victim usually won’t have any symptoms.
DO NOT USE HEATERS INDOORS THAT AREN’T MEANT FOR INDOOR USE! There are actually people who fire up a barbeque grill inside the house! NO!NO!NO!!
Carbon monoxide is a sneaky killer. It’s odorless, non-irritating and invisible. We’ve all read of families who died together in their sleep. This is because the gas is absorbed into the bloodstream and reduces the oxygen supply to the heart and brain. Pets with pre-existing heart or lung disease are especially vulnerable.
Here are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning in humans furnished by the U.S. Center of Disease Control.
* Dizziness or light-headedness.
* Nausea or vomiting.
* Pain in the chest.
* Confusion or disorientation.
Another source sums the symptoms up as “flu-like” along with ringing in the ears, heart or gastrointestinal disturbances and elevated blood pressure. But many people fall asleep and die before symptoms have time to develop.
Since pets can’t tell us they’re being poisoned (and us along with them), here are some of the things to watch out for in dogs and cats. I’ve also read this holds true for other small pets.
*Weakness and/or in-coordination
*Bright red color to the skin and gums
*Dyspnea (difficulty breathing)
*Occasionally, chronic (low-grade, long-term) exposure will cause fever1
Many people don’t realize it’s not only gas appliances or space heaters which can malfunction. Carbon monoxide is a danger pet owners face in a closed in garage, an airplane cargo section (when pets fly), or through a faulty car exhaust. A snow covered tailpipe is a common accident during the winter months.
It’s very important to monitor the health of everyone in your family (including your furry friends) and get everyone outside immediately if something seems “off.” I’ve read many cases where the main symptom was confusion. It was hard for the homeowner to escape in time for the simple reason the brain doesn’t function clearly when deprived of oxygen.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is treated with oxygen and I.V. fluids.
According to the American Medical Association there are more than 1500 deaths and over 10,000 injuries each year in the U.S. alone.2
A law was passed in the state of Massachusetts in 2005 after the death of a 10-year old girl who died. Now Nicole’s Law requires all residential buildings to have a carbon monoxide detector. Many other states are creating laws to protect residents from this danger. I believe in being proactive and keeping stoves, heaters, etc. in good shape. Have your heating system checked by someone who knows what to look for. It could save your life and that of your pets.
I have to add one story before I close. Here’s a link to the full story and a video. It tells how a malfunction to a gas powered water heater almost killed an entire family. A 14-year old cat named Winnie saved her family one night by jumping on the bed where Eric and Cathy Keesling were sleeping. Winnie’s meowing sounded an alarm for the family. Cathy later said it was more like a scream than a meow. Their 14-year old son Michael was found unconscious on the floor near his bedroom. Thanks to their cat the family made it out alive and everyone made a complete recovery.
Thanks Winnie. You’re a heroine. I hope you got lots of treats and hugs for your bravery