Batteries can be toxic to dogs, so if you think your dog has eaten a battery, call your vet right away.
Why would my dog eat a battery?
Dogs make the mistake of eating first and thinking later. Batteries are eaten not because they taste good, but because they are interesting and unusual to dogs, and dogs are curious creatures.
In addition to that, some 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
The most common batteries ingested by dogs are alkaline dry cell batteries (e.g., 9-volt, D, C, AA, AAA) or button/disc batteries. Each type of battery comes with different issues if chewed or swallowed by a dog.
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.
Most household alkaline batteries contain either potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide. When these substances come into contact with the dog's internal tissues, liquefaction necrosis develops, resulting in deeply penetrating ulcers.
An electric current can pass through the tissues of the gastrointestinal tract using disc-shaped or button batteries. This can cause current-induced necrosis, which can lead to 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.
Heavy metals are present in some batteries (like zinc, mercury, lead, cobalt, nickel, or cadmium). Heavy metal toxicity can occur when these types of batteries are consumed. This is uncommon and usually occurs when the battery remains in the gastrointestinal tract for more than two or three days.
Whatever type of battery your dog eats, it's essential that you seek veterinary attention 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.
The vet will perform a thorough oral exam and physical exam, and flush and lavage the mouth thoroughly. X-rays will be taken to look for the presence of the battery in the stomach.
To prevent corrosive injury, the battery should be removed promptly. The use of endoscopy or surgery may be necessary.
Once the battery is removed, follow-up treatment may include anti-ulcer medication and a bland or high-fiber diet.
To keep your dog from chewing or eating batteries in the first place, store battery packages, remote controls, household appliances, and toys containing batteries in locked 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.