Susan, a girl with blonde hair and freckles, was walking her Labrador Retriever in the park on a sunny day. Susan loved to be outside with her dog, especially when it meant that she could spend time exploring nature. The air smelled so fresh and clean around here that Susan always felt refreshed after taking her daily walk. She stopped for just a moment to let the dog sniff some flowers before heading back home.
While sitting there, something caught her dog’s eye: A bright yellow lighter on the ground next to bushes across from where she was sitting. Oh no! It must have dropped out of someone’s pocket while they were at one of those picnic tables over there!
Instantly her dog ran over. It must have had some kind of food on it as her dog, Rex, promptly ate it.
Has this ever happened to you? Check below for what to do if your dog eats a lighter.
Table of Contents
Check for These Signs
At first, you might not notice any symptoms if your dog swallowed a lighter, but keep a sharp out eye out for anything that seems to come on suddenly. Butane fuel in lighters can cause sudden oral or skin irritation if your dog’s body tries to digest it.
Eventually, your dog might seem to be weak or look as though they can’t move really well. This is a sign that they’ve developed a problem with their metabolism, which is a serious medical emergency.
In extreme circumstances, a dog might actually fall over suddenly without showing any other symptoms. Dogs who’ve swallowed lighters have been known to slip into comas as a result.
That being said, you’ll want to check to see what part of the lighter your dog ate. Few dogs find lighters actually appetizing, and they might just chew part of the plastic on the outside of it.
Look at the lighter in question, if your dog hasn’t swallowed the whole thing. You’re probably not in much danger if the butane container and the flint itself haven’t been taken out of the casing.
Since lighters contain petroleum products that are not digestible by dogs, the following issues may manifest themselves if your dog swallows one:
- Drooling: Possibly in an attempt to get rid of any foreign matter, dogs my hypersalivate
- Locking jaws: Your dog could start to have localized seizures and lose control of the normal function of their jaws
- Choking: Lighters often splinter when they’re swallowed, which may cause choking
- Inflammation: Both skin and oral irritation are common side-effects of ingesting the fluid inside of lighters
- Tremors: Hydrocarbons in lighters like benzene can cause convulsions and possibly cause a dog to enter a coma
- Oily feces: As a dog tries to purge the material from the lighter, some of the compounds from it might end up in their stool
- Blurred vision: As poisons partially break down in a dog’s digestive tract, they might cause neurological disruptions in their eyes
- Malaise: Generalized muscle weakness or localized irritation could become progressively worse as lighter particles rupture inside of a dog’s intestines
Dogs aren’t normally able to swallow larger lighters, like the longer ones used to start grills. They can still chew through the side of it and swallow some of the lighter fluid by mistake, however.
What to Do
Call a veterinarian or emergency animal hospital even if your pet hasn’t shown any symptoms yet. There’s a strong possibility that your dog may either choke on the lighter or develop a problem later on as they try to rid themselves of the compounds in the lighter.
Depending on your vet’s instructions, you may have to induce vomiting in your dog. If your dog swallowed enough of the lighter, then he or she might vomit on his own.
You won’t want to induce it if the vet tells you otherwise, however, because there’s a good chance that lighter fluid can be aspirated. Some recommend the use of baby-strength activated charcoal until you get your dog to the vet.
Surgery is recommended only in cases where the dog swallowed enough of the plastic housing of a lighter to cause internal injuries. In cases where this becomes a problem, then there’s a strong possibility that such surgery would not need to be major since it’s usually possible to remove them without making a massive incision.
Remove as much material from your dog’s mouth as possible. If you can, then take the lighter out of your dog’s mouth before he or she can even swallow it.
Do I Need to See the Vet or Go to the Emergency Animal Hospital?
Contact your vet right away if your dog has ingested a lighter or swallowed even a slight amount of lighter fluid. This is a serious medical emergency, and it would indeed be best handled by an emergency animal hospital if you happen to be close to one.
Your dog’s doctor might end up running a series of blood or tissue tests to see if there’s any metabolic damage as a result of the consumption of lighter fluid. Parts of a plastic lighter that a dog swallowed could also get stuck in their digestive tract, so a veterinarian might also order an x-ray in order to see if anything seems to be stuck.
These shards can be sharp, which might pierce portions of their skin and therefore cause internal bleeding. Any piece of material that causes an internal laceration will also be a potential disease vector and allow infections to enter a dog’s body.
You should always make sure that tools like lighters, matches and any other household implements not meant for dogs are kept far away from your animals. They shouldn’t be able to even come close to them.
Safe Alternatives to Play With
Giving your dog any purpose-made chew toy is considerably safer than a lighter. Under no circumstances should your dog have access to lighters anyway.
In most cases, dogs aren’t trying to eat a lighter. If you catch them chewing on one, then they’re just trying to gnaw on it the way that they would with any new object.
Take everything dangerous like this and put it away. Hard rubber or vinyl dog toys that are properly made for use by dogs are far safer for your animal to chew on.
Making sure that your dog has a proper toy is a good way to keep them from ever being interested in chewing things that aren’t actually toys. You might want to consider organic toys as well, such as so-called moo moo toes.
These are essentially cattle hooves that have been carefully treated to ensure that they’re safe for your dog to chew on. The smell should prove attractive to dogs as well, thus keeping them away from things like lighters.