Warning as most don’t know this silent killer can harm their pet

People are being warned of the danger of carbon monoxide impacting their pets after new research revealed more nine in 10 (96%) of people don't think their pet will be affected.

Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 9:28 am
Updated Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 9:30 am
There are around 60 deaths in England and Wales every year from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning and thousands are hospitalised.

During the pandemic, an estimated 18% of households purchased a pet to keep them company, meaning that almost three fifths of UK homes now have a furry friend (59%). With many now returning to offices and leaving pets at home, it is important that pet owners know about the risks and how best to look after them.

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, poisonous gas, which people can’t see, smell, hear or taste.

Known as the silent killer, pets are also affected by it and can help identify potential dangers. For example, cats might refuse to come into the house and dogs may have a sore mouth and appear irritable.

There are around 60 deaths in England and Wales every year from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning and thousands are hospitalised.

The research found that 30% of people don’t have a carbon monoxide detector at home and more than a quarter don’t know the symptoms (26%), often mistaking it for flu or food poisoning.

The main symptoms of carbon monoxide in pets are:

Lethargy or weakness

Difficulty breathing

Vomiting

Seizures

Loss of consciousness

Red gums

The most common symptom in both people and pets is fatigue and if this is low level poisoning, it can be easily treated by spending time outside getting fresh air.

Animals are affected in the same way as humans, by carbon monoxide being breathed in and absorbed into the bloodstream through the lungs. And as they are smaller than humans, they are affected a lot quicker and sometimes more severely.

Carbon monoxide is produced by the incomplete burning of carbon-based fuels and can be caused by open fires, cookers, boilers, burning fuel in unventilated spaces, barbecues, blocked flues and chimneys, and by smoking shisha pipes indoors.

Worryingly, over half of people (57%) don’t know all these sources of carbon monoxide poisoning, only one in 10 believe barbecues can be a source and just 18% know open fires can also be a cause.

There are several appliances in the home that can cause a leak including boilers, furnaces, fires, heaters, gas powered tumble dryers, gas hobs, wood stoves and charcoal grills.

BestHeating, who carried out the research, has provided some advice to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

Make sure you have a carbon monoxide detector in your home

Have your chimney swept at least once a year by a qualified chimney sweep

Never use gas stoves or burners to heat your tent

Never cook inside a tent or an enclosed camping space

Have your central heating inspected at least once a year

John Lawless, content marketing manager from BestHeating, said: “It’s worrying that so many of us don’t have a carbon monoxide detector in our homes as Brits are potentially putting their pet’s life at risk alongside their own.

“We’re urging people to make themselves more aware of carbon monoxide symptoms and anyone without a detector should purchase one or see if their gas supplier will provide a free one.”

If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning immediately leave the affected area and call a gas emergency on 0800 111 999. If you feel very unwell seek urgent medical advice by calling 111 or take your pet to the vets.

For more information on how pets can be affected by carbon monoxide visit https://www.bestheating.com/info/carbon-monoxide-our-pets-a-bestheating-guide/