It is very sobering to realize how many people are affected by carbon monoxide every year. These incidents always go up during natural disasters or power outages, like the one affecting so many right now.

As much as we hear about carbon monoxide in the news, we rarely hear how many pets die. Smaller and more vulnerable, they are more likely to be overcome by these invisible fumes. Nebraska leads the country in carbon monoxide deaths and I was saddened to read that firefighters in Omaha reported that 9 dogs had died just last week from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Pets are particularly vulnerable during cold weather when they may be confined to a garage and exposed to car fumes. Dogs and cats are much more sensitive to carbon monoxide fumes than humans and any exposure to exhaust fumes is serious and sometimes fatal. Carbon monoxide poisoning, even in very low doses, is cumulative and can lead to death.

The warning signs of carbon monoxide in your pets include: drowsiness, lethargy, weakness and/or incoordination, bright red color to skin and gums, dyspnea (trouble breathing), coma, abrupt death and occasionally chronic (low-grade, long-term) exposure may cause exercise intolerance, changes in gait (walking), and disturbances of normal reflexes. If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning in your pet, remember, this is a warning sign that you and your family are at risk. Pets and small children are always the first affected.

If you care about your pets, install carbon monoxide detectors. They are an inexpensive way to protect you, your family and your pets. Don’t let your pet be the warning sign that you have carbon monoxide in your home.

– the legal times staff

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