Batteries contain a number of toxic materials so if your dog eats one it is imperative to get your pup to the vet right away. Our Poway vets are here to tell you what to do in this scary situation.
Why would my dog eat a battery?
Dogs are notorious for picking up and eating everything without thinking. They probably don't eat batteries because they taste good, it has more to do with dogs' curious natures.
In addition to that, certain breeds of dogs, such as Labradors, just really love to eat and chew on anything and everything.
The chances of dogs eating or chewing batteries are also fairly high because many household items like remote controls, watches, toys, hearing aids, and smoke alarms contain them.
Different Batteries Cause Different Problems
Alkaline dry cell (9-volt, D, C, AA, AAA) or button/disc batteries are among the most commonly ingested batteries by dogs. Each type comes with its own variety of issues if chewed or swallowed by your dog. Here's what can happen:
Standard Alkaline Batteries
When swallowed, alkaline batteries can cause irritation or obstruction in the dog's digestive tract. When chewed, they can also cause some chemical burns in their mouth.
The majority of household alkaline batteries contain chemicals such as potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide. When these compounds come into contact with the dog's internal tissues, they will eventually develop liquefaction necrosis, causing deeply penetrating ulcers.
Disc-shaped or button batteries can allow an electric current to pass to the tissues of the gastrointestinal tract. This may result in a condition called current-induced necrosis, which can cause perforation of the mouth, esophagus, stomach or small intestine.
Lithium button batteries are the most dangerous. Just one 3-volt battery can result in severe necrosis to the esophagus or gastrointestinal tract within 15 to 30 minutes.
Certain batteries contain heavy metals (like zinc, mercury, lead, cobalt, nickel or cadmium). When these types of batteries are ingested, heavy metal toxicity can occur. This is rare, and usually only happens if the battery remains in the gastrointestinal tract for more than 2 or 3 days.
Whatever type of battery your dog eats, you need to seek emergency veterinary care immediately.
IMPORTANT: If you suspect your dog has swallowed a battery, do not try to Induce vomiting. Vomiting may cause corrosive injury to the esophagus and oropharynx.
Your vet will start by performing an oral exam on your pet then a physical exam and a flush and lavage of their mouth. X-rays will be taken to look for the presence of the battery in the stomach.
To prevent corrosive injury, the battery needs to be removed as quickly as possible. The use of endoscopy or surgery can both be viable options.
Once the battery is removed, follow-up treatment may include anti-ulcer medication and a bland or high-fiber diet.
To prevent your dog from chewing or eating batteries in the first place, keep battery packages, remote controls, household appliances and toys that contain batteries out of reach in secured cupboards or drawers.
Allow your dog to play with toys that contain batteries only under careful supervision, and remove the battery right away if the dog “kills” the toy. Disposing of any destroyed toys is also usually a good idea to prevent choking.