Exotis ISSN 2398-2985

Ferrets

Household cleaning product toxicity

Contributor(s): Cathy Johnson-Delaney, David Perpinan

Introduction

  • Cause: ingestion of, or topical/ocular exposure to household cleaning products.
  • Signs: vomiting and diarrhea, skin irritation/burns, conjunctivitis, blepharospasm.
  • Diagnosis: history and clinical signs.
  • Treatment: dilute agent with milk or water, fluid therapy, liquid sucralfate for ulcers/burns, nutritional support, antibiotics. Bathing for dermal exposure, flushing for ocular exposure. Consult the label on the product for information on treatment. Consultation with a poison control hotline may help if the label does not provide adequate antidote information. Most antidotes listed for humans can be utilized for ferrets.
  • Prognosis: depends on amount consumed/extent of exposure and type of chemical.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Ingestion of or dermal/ocular exposure to household product(s) .

Predisposing factors

General

  • Ferrets propensity to explore cupboards, boxes and storage spaces.

Pathophysiology

  • Most cleaning products consist of anionic/nonionic surfactants; these are irritants but significant systemic toxicosis is not expected.
  • Small ingestions may lead to nausea and vomiting, while larger ingestions may also cause diarrhea due to a laxative effect.
  • Bleach and other alkaline corrosive products may cause tissue damage ranging from irritation to corrosion.
  • The degree of injury depends on the concentration of the corrosive.
  • Dilute solutions may be irritating, but concentrated solutions may be extremely alkaline.
  • Those with a pH greater than 11 are corrosive.
  • Because pain is not immediate, the ferret may continue to consume large amounts of the agent.
  • Injury can extend beyond the oral cavity and include damage to the esophagus and stomach.
  • The full extent of the injury may not be evident for 24 h.
  • Skin damage from some chemicals may cause damage ranging from superficial irritation to deep burns.
  • Ocular exposures can cause damage ranging from conjunctivitis, blepharospasm, corneal ulceration, conjunctival burn and ulceration.

Timecourse

  • Onset of signs is usually within minutes to hours of ingestion/exposure.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

  • Recent references from PubMed and VetMedResource.
  • Dunayer E (2008) Toxicology of ferrets. Vet Clin North Am Exotic Anim Pract 11 (2), 301-314 PubMed.
  • Richardson J & Balabuszko R (2000) Managing ferret toxicoses. Exotic DVM  (4), 23-26 PDF Download.

Other sources of information

  • Johnson-Delaney C A (2017) Toxicology. In: Ferret Medicine and Surgery. Ed: Johnson-Delaney C A. CRC Press, USA. pp 449-455.
  • Lewington J H (2007) Ferret Husbandry, Medicine and Surgery. 2nd edn. Saunders, USA. pp 521.


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