As a pet parent, you want to do everything in your power to protect your fur babies’ safety and health. Pets are particularly vulnerable to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning because they have smaller bodies and faster metabolisms than humans, so they’ll experience the effects quicker. That’s why taking precautions to protect your pets from carbon monoxide is crucial.
Understanding Carbon Monoxide
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas. It occurs as a result of burning fuels like gas, wood, propane or charcoal in enclosed spaces, or using appliances without proper ventilation. It can build up quickly in enclosed spaces or spaces with low oxygen levels.
When there’s too much carbon monoxide in the air, your body replaces the oxygen in your red blood cells with the gas and reduces your red blood cells’ ability to carry oxygen through your body. This can cause damage to your heart and brain because they require lots of oxygen to function.
Know the Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Exposure
It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of CO exposure and poisoning. Having an awareness of signs and symptoms will help you if a leak occurs.
Your pet may exhibit unusual behavior like irritability, anxiety or aggression. They may suddenly be more fearful of children, noises or other animals. Anxiety symptoms like being startled by bright lights or hesitancy to go down the stairs are also signs of vision loss in pets, so you should visit the vet if you notice behaviors like this.
Some of the other symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:
- Refusing to get into the house after being outside
- Uncoordinated movement
- Cherry red lips, gums and ears
- Difficulty breathing and drowsiness
If you see any signs, take your pet to the vet. They’ll get oxygen therapy — which uses a breathing mask or oxygen chamber to reoxygenate their blood — and intravenous fluid therapy to bring their blood pH down to normal levels. You should closely monitor your animals recovering from CO poisoning for a few days after treatment for worsening or a return of symptoms.
How to Protect Your Pets from Carbon Monoxide
You must take extra precautions during winter since you may use more heating methods. Home furnaces are a common source of carbon monoxide, along with vehicle exhausts, gas-powered stoves and water heaters.
These are some steps you should take to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning:
Close the door to the house while you warm up your car
A running car in an attached garage poses risks to your pets. Your pets love to follow you around and may be curious about your car’s sound. If you have a blind pet, you can section off areas like the garage for their safety.
Use fuel-burning devices outside
Outdoor heaters, camp stoves and generators produce carbon monoxide in high levels, which can be dangerous in small spaces or unventilated areas.
Service your heating systems regularly
Get your water heater and home heating system serviced at least once every year. You should also get your chimney swept regularly and maintain a clean and well-ventilated fireplace.
Install pet gates in front of fireplaces
Even your pet loves the warmth of a fire on a cold day, use pet gates or baby gets in front of the fireplace to protect them from getting singed. You should also train your pet to stay back from the fireplace area, even with a safety gate.
Get houseplants that absorb CO
Plants like bamboo palm, Chinese evergreen, gerbera daisy and spider plants have the ability to remove carbon monoxide from the air. Studies show spider plants can reduce CO levels to 65% and reduce contaminants in a room. Gerbera daisies are also very effective at filtering air. They absorb carbon monoxide at night and replenish oxygen levels in its place. They are best placed in bedrooms since they filter air at night.
Install a carbon monoxide detector
If the CO detectors ever sound an alarm, go outside immediately and call 911.
Have an evacuation plan
A good precautionary measure to protect your family from prolonged exposure to CO in any event is to have an evacuation plan. This includes knowing who will carry your pet out of the house, especially if you have stairs. Running down stairs can be straining for pets with mobility issues and you must protect them from injury in an emergency. The alarm might also spook your pet, so they will likely be experiencing some symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
How to Choose the Right Gas Detector
CO detectors measure and asses the levels of carbon monoxide in a home. They ring an alarm if CO levels in a room reach an unsafe level and present the risk of poisoning.
There are a few things to consider when buying a CO detector:
- Fail-safe battery: Plug-in or hard-wired detectors with a battery backup will give the most reliable protection. They will work during a power outage and reduce the frequency of replacing old batteries.
- Smart features: Some gas detectors can connect to your smartphone or Alexa, which makes monitoring, syncing and testing the sensors easy.
- Interconnectivity: Consider buying CO detectors that have Bluetooth and WiFi capabilities. All connected sensors will ring even if just one room has high levels of carbon monoxide, which helps alert everyone in your home.
You should install at least one detector for every level of your house and one close to the bedrooms. CO sensors are best placed outside kitchens, bathrooms, and garages, as you may get false alarms from your car exhaust or a gas burner.
After you’ve installed CO detectors, you should test them at least once every month. You should also check if they’re clean regularly and vacuum any dust build-up to prevent the sensors from blocking or giving false alarms.
Protect Your Pet from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide is deadly to people and animals. By installing CO gas detectors and taking extra precautions with fuel-burning devices, you can keep your pets safe from poisoning and ensure they live a long, happy life.
Jack Shaw is a passionate freelance writer with a focus on promoting health and well-being. With a deep love for animals, he strives to bridge the gap between human wellness and animal care. His articles aim to inspire readers and their pets to lead healthier lives while fostering a compassionate connection with the world around them.