Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. What makes carbon monoxide dangerous is the fact that it replaces circulating oxygen. Further, because it bonds more strongly, it’s hard for oxygen to regain its rightful place.
As a result, the body—especially the brain and the heart—is deprived of oxygen. That leads to chemical suffocation. Further, the problem can continue for 10 to 15 days until the body replaces the affected hemoglobin! Treatment involves hours of oxygen therapy.
All you need is love … but oxygen is pretty important too.House MD
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning in dogs include:
- difficulty breathing
- loss of coordination
Further reading: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Dogs
Reilly, a healthy, four-year-old miniature Goldendoodle, survived a house fire. Immediately after the ordeal, Reilly’s parents rushed her to an emergency hospital. The veterinarians kept her for a few days while treating her for smoke inhalation.
However, the day after Reilly got back home, her front leg began to spasm. The twitching was constant and made her stumble when she walked. One time she even fell forward on her chin. Her parents took Reilly back to the hospital.
Because Reilly was alert and had no signs you’d expect with continuing carbon monoxide toxicity, she got a referral to a neurology specialist.
At the specialty hospital
Other than her unruly front leg, there wasn’t anything else immediately obviously wrong. However, upon closer examination, the veterinarian noticed reduced eye response and sensation inside Reilly’s nose. Further, it has turned out she had a proprioception issue on her left side. Reilly’s brain wasn’t working quite right. Could her brain be inflamed and her front leg twitching a result of seizure activity?
Reilly’s chest x-rays and blood work were normal, except for an elevation of one of her liver enzymes. However, that elevation would be consistent with smoke exposure. To figure out what was ailing her brain, Reilly needed an MRI. The evidence from the imaging pointed to changes due to carbon monoxide toxicity after all.
Reilly was treated with anti-seizure medication and a short course of steroids. The treatment took care of her leg twitching. However, it took two more weeks for her to substantially improve. Hopefully, with time, she’ll return back to her normal, healthy self. Her prognosis is good.
Carbon monoxide inhalation can have a profound toxic effect on the brain. The problem can go misdiagnosed because the onset of signs comes after some time of the incident. It is important to consider toxicity when dealing with neurologic issues.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning – Reilly
The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Pets