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How Can Batteries Be Dangerous to Your Pets?

Batteries are used so frequently in our homes that we often don’t think much of them just lying around. However, batteries can be dangerous to leave around. Dogs and cats may notice a battery and think nothing of biting or eating it. At VRC, we are no strangers to battery poisoning, and we want pet owners to be aware of the dangers that could be present in your own home.

The acid inside the batteries can be extremely problematic for pets. Alkaline or acid can leak out of the battery when it is punctured or swallowed. This acid is corrosive and can cause corrosive injuries in and on your pet. The most common batteries to get chewed on or swallowed by pets are alkaline dry cell batteries and button/disc batteries. Disc-shaped batteries are often lithium batteries.

While the acid in batteries is obviously dangerous, there are other dangers with batteries. One of these dangers is an obstruction. A battery can easily become lodged in the throat or gastrointestinal tract and cause serious problems such as difficulty breathing, difficulty defecating, and more.

Disc-shaped batteries pose a special danger for pets. These batteries can allow electric current to pass into the tissues of the GI tract as the battery is passed, which can damage tissues to the point of necrosis or perforation. The most common areas of the body affected are the oropharynx, esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. Of all batteries, the lithium button batteries are the most dangerous, as even a 3-volt button battery can cause severe necrosis to the gastrointestinal tract or esophagus in only 15 to 30 minutes.

Symptoms of Battery Poisoning

If your pet has eaten a battery, you may notice the following signs:

  • Drooling
  • Oral pain
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Lack of defecation

All of these symptoms could point toward battery poisoning, but they could also be signs of other illnesses. Be mindful if you see any of these symptoms. Take precautions by taking your pet in to see a veterinarian right away.

Diagnosing and Treating Battery Poisoning

At- home care for dealing with battery poisoning would start with flushing the mouth with tepid water for 15 to 20 minutes. It is important that vomiting is NOT induced in pets that have ingested batteries as the corrosive liquid can rupture or cause other severe damage to the esophagus. Additionally, battery acid could be inhaled into the lungs during vomiting, which would cause even more problems for your pet. Once you have flushed your pet’s mouth, you will want to take them in for veterinary care immediately.

In some cases, diagnosing battery poisoning is as easy as an X-ray. Treating battery poisoning is a little tricky, however. In the case of ingestion, the battery will need to be removed right away. Endoscopy or surgery can be performed to get the battery out of your pet’s system.

Your pet is also going to need pain medication and antibiotics to prevent both pain and infection from the ulcers that pop up from the acid. You may also need to give your pet anti-ulcer medications, stomach protectants, and antacids. These medications are important to the healing of your dog or cat. If you are given any of these medications for your pet, be sure that you dole them out as prescribed to keep your pet healthy. During treatment, veterinarians will often recommend that you switch your dog to a bland or high-fiber diet.

Preventing Battery Poisoning

The only way to prevent battery poisoning is to prevent your pet from getting access to batteries. Unfortunately, batteries are in so many household objects that we don’t generally consider dangerous. While there are hundreds of items that could lead to battery poisoning, here is a list of a few that are very common:

  • Toys
  • Watches
  • Hearing aids
  • Remote controls
  • Calculators
  • Flashlights
  • Cameras
  • Wireless computer devices
  • Garage door openers

Even the most well-intentioned pet owners may accidentally leave one of these items lying around. However, one simple thing you can do is make sure that you never leave batteries in an area where your pet can access them. If you happen to drop a battery, you should pick it up right away. Never leave drawers containing batteries open or batteries out in the open.

Always store batteries in a drawer or cabinet that your pet doesn’t have access to at any time. Some cats and dogs are smart enough to open drawers and cabinets, so you may need to purchase child-proof devices that will lock your pets out of these unwelcome areas.

While battery ingestion is scary, the most important thing you can do for your pet is to take them in to see a veterinarian right away. VRC is proud to offer high-quality emergency care for pets in the Malvern, Pennsylvania, area. If your pet has ingested a battery, you should either go to or call VRC right away at 610-647-2950. One of our ER veterinarians will help your pet throughout the diagnosis and treatment process. Our emergency clinic is open 24 hours, seven days a week.

Tips for Sun Protection for Pets

Summer is here, and we are slathering on the sunscreen, but our pets spend a lot of time outside with us, too. What about them? VRC wants you to know how important sun protection for pets can be and how to keep them safe in the summer sun.

Sunscreen for Pets

Many pet owners are surprised to learn that their dogs and cats can get sunburns. However, our pets have skin just like we do, and that skin can only be protected by fur to an extent. If you are anticipating that your dog or cat will be out in the sun for extended periods of time, you should use pet-safe sunscreen on their skin.

Focus sunscreen application on the nose and ears, because these areas tend to have less fur and are more sensitive. Additionally, pets that have short hair, thin hair, no hair, or hair with little pigment are more likely to get sunburns, and therefore, these pets will need more sunscreen protection than some other pets may need. If you shave your pet, you will also want to make sure you protect the skin that is newly exposed to the sun. Avoid getting sunscreen in your pet’s eyes, however, as it can cause burning and irritation.

When it comes to applying sunscreen to your pet, you will want to make sure you get a pet-safe product. Many human sunscreens contain ingredients that can be toxic and cause gastrointestinal problems if they happen to be ingested by a pet. For these reasons, you don’t want to use a human sunscreen on your pet.

Instead, pet-safe sunscreens can be purchased. These sunscreens won’t contain zinc oxide, but they will help prevent sunburn. Look for a sunscreen that is fragrance-free and waterproof. A good sunscreen blocks both UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF of at least 15. A few of the more common pet sunscreens are Virbac Pet Guard Gel with Sunscreen, which is safe for both cats and dogs, and Doggles Pet Sunscreen, which can be used on dogs.

Much like human sunscreen, pet sunscreens can be sprays, gels, or creams, so you may want to determine which product is going to be easier for you to apply to your pet based on their personality. You want to try to keep your pet from ingesting and inhaling the sunscreen the best you can. Sunscreens should be reapplied every three or four hours unless your dog is in the water, in which case you should reapply the sunscreen more frequently.

Sun Gear for Pets

If your pet isn’t going to respond well to sunscreen, you can get special attire for your pet to prevent sunburns. Solar-protective clothing ranging from eyewear to shirts to hats can help prevent problems for your dog or cat when they are out in the sun.

For pets that like to spend a lot of time outside in the summer, there are covers that can be placed on exercise pens that can prevent sunburns. They function like beach umbrellas that block the sun’s rays from hitting the skin.

Risks of Sun Exposure

The most immediate risk associated with sun exposure for our pets is sunburn. Much like humans, dogs and cats find sunburns to be painful, and they can also experience skin peeling. Severe sunburns can even lead to infections that are tricky to treat and extremely painful for your pet.

Skin cancer is also a problem for our furry friends. Using sunscreen is important to prevent damage to the skin from the sun that can lead to cancer. Skin cancer can be painful and life-threatening, so it is important that pet owners try their best to prevent sunburns in their pets.

Other Summer Weather Considerations

Sun protection is extremely important, but just because your pet is protected from the sun’s rays doesn’t mean that it isn’t at risk for heatstroke. Heatstroke is very dangerous for pets, and you need to make sure that your pet has access to shade and water if you are going to be outside in the heat for an extended period of time.

Avoid bringing your pet outdoors during the hottest time of day, and if you can, leave your pet at home to avoid any risk of being left in a place without access to shade, water, or air conditioning.

VRC knows that accidents and unexpected situations arise, so if your pet does seem to have a sunburn or heatstroke, bring them in right away if you are in the Philadelphia area. Sun protection for pets isn’t always easy to figure out, so give us a call at 610-647-2950 if you have any questions about keeping your pet safe in the sun.

What does this sign mean?


Have you seen this sign at our hospital? If so, you may be wondering what it means!

It simply means we have an MRI machine on site! OSHA requires these signs to indicate how far away you are from the machine. Zone I is very far away, and poses no health risks to you or your pet. It reads “General Public” for this reason. All of our owner accessible areas are Zone I and treatment areas are Zone II, which is also safe for unscreened people and pets.

As you get closer to the MRI, only trained professionals in proper attire are allowed near, as well as pets in need of scans that have been evaluated and prescreened. These areas are safely secured and monitored in our MRI trailer, so there’s no risk of accidentally stumbling upon them!

Preventing A Pet Emergency This Summer

As seen in Mainline Today

Here are some ways to prevent the most common summertime pet emergencies we see:

HEAT STROKE – NEVER leave your pet alone in the car on a warm day, regardless of whether or not the windows are open. Even if the weather outside is not extremely hot, the inside of a car acts like an oven; temperatures can rise to dangerously high levels in a matter of minutes, even on a cooler 70˚ day. Avoid vigorous exercise with your pet on warm days. When outside, opt for shady areas.

DOG BITES – A dog at the beach or park wagging his tail is not necessarily friendly and may not wish to interact with you or your pet. An aggressive dog may make himself appear larger (ears up and forward, fur on back puffed, and tail up or wagging), and an anxious or fearful dog may make himself appear smaller (crouched, head lowered, tail between legs, and ears flattened). Both may give verbal warnings of discomfort. If you see a dog exhibiting these signs, slowly back away and steer clear.

HIT BY CAR – When the weather is nice, we want to spend as much time as possible outdoors. This can lead to more open windows and doors, off-leash time, and even nodding off in your favorite summer chair. Wherever you’re having fun, be sure your pet is safely secured. If you are walking along roadways with your pet, keep the leash tight and know where he is at all times. It takes only a moment of distraction for your pet to get in front of a moving vehicle.

PICNIC FOOD INGESTION – Common picnic staples like corn on the cob, grapes, chicken bones, avocado, brownies, and onions can all be very dangerous for pets. Grapes, avocados, chocolate, and onions are very toxic, while bones and corn cobs can cause painful intestinal obstruction or injury that may even require emergency surgery to remove.

LEPTOSPIROSIS – Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection that comes from the urine of wildlife. Your furry friend can contract this disease in a few ways, but most often from drinking stagnant water or coming into contact with wild or farm animals. If your pet has contracted leptospirosis, he will exhibit common symptoms of illness including loss of appetite, fever, diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, and muscle tenderness. If your pet is not acting like himself and you notice any of these signs, consider it a pet emergency and be sure to bring him to your family veterinarian or an emergency hospital like VRC as soon as possible.

BRACHYCEPHALIC BREEDS (Short snout) – Dog breeds like pugs, bulldogs, Pekingese, and Boston terriers, and cat breeds like Persians and exotic shorthairs all have shorter snouts, which means that their airways can become more easily obstructed. When it is hot, dogs and cats pant to help release heat and cool their bodies. Heavy panting can lead to complete airway obstruction in some of these shorter snout breeds, which means that they might become unable to breathe. If you have a pet with a shorter snout, be sure to keep him cool at all times during the summer to prevent a pet emergency.

If you experience a pet emergency this summer, VRC in Malvern is open around the clock to provide medical care for your pet, even on weekends and holidays.