What Happens If A Dog Licks Lidocaine? (Numbing Nightmare!)

If you’ve found yourself here, wondering:

“What happens if a dog licks Lidocaine?”

Chances are your curious canine has had a few good nips of the numbing stuff.

Well- what is going to happen, then?

Unfortunately, lidocaine ingestion can sometimes have some pretty serious consequences for the dog in question as it can cause them to suffer from systemic toxicity.

Factors such as the dog’s weight, size, age, and previous medical history also play a big part in whether severe side effects- and indeed, life-threatening ones- take place.

Read on to find out what it is that makes Lidocaine so dangerous to dogs, the steps to take to minimize harmful consequences, as well as how to prevent these instances in the future!

What Is Lidocaine, Anyway?

Blackboard with chemical formula of Lidocaine

Lidocaine is an amino amide that’s generally used as a local anesthetic for temporary relief.

It has also demonstrated high efficacy in treating ventricular tachycardia and other cardiovascular problems.

This drug is not new. It was first formulated in 1943, but it wasn’t commercialized and approved for use till 1949.

The World Health Organization classifies it as an essential medicine, which shows how important it is.

The commercial or brand names of lidocaine include Xylocaine, Zteldo, and Lignocaine. It’s also an integral component in various pain management medications, NSAIDs, and muscle relaxants.

Lidocaine comes in three main forms: intravenous injections, topical creams, and patches for postoperative pain management.

This drug is quite versatile as it’s mostly safe to use, works quickly, and its effect lasts for a reasonable amount of time. Its side effects are also limited and adverse responses are generally rare.

Lidocaine is intended for human use, but it’s widely used in veterinary settings as well.

Dogs that need to undergo minor surgeries are often injected with lidocaine right before the procedure.

Many vets also prescribe a lidocaine patch to reduce postoperative pain and promote recovery.

How Does Lidocaine Work?

Neurons propagate signals between the brain and all the organs in the body through voltage-gated sodium channels.

These signals include pain, among a host of other stimulants. In the absence of sodium, these signals can’t pass from one cell to the next.

Lidocaine works by blocking the sodium channels, which minimizes the signal travel through neurons.

This blockage affects the sensory neurons primarily, as long as the proper doses are used.

This physiological action is quite useful in decreasing or eliminating pain, as well as in regulating erratic cardiac rhythms.

At the same time it poses some serious risks if the right dosage is exceeded, or in case the medicine is accidentally ingested.

Lidocaine overdosing is possible, and it can cause severe toxicity similar to poisoning.

This can subsequently be fatal under certain circumstances. Even less toxic amounts of lidocaine can still manifest as a number of serious symptoms and adverse health effects.

So, What Happens If A Dog Eats A Lidocaine Patch?

Woman peeling off Lidocaine patch

Dogs that undergo surgery typically need a topical analgesic to alleviate their postoperative discomfort- such as pain and itching- as the wound heals.

Typically vets recommend applying a lidocaine patch for a dog after any of the following surgeries:

● Abdominal surgery

● Laparot­omy

● Dorsal hemilaminectomy

● Total ear canal ablation

● Ovariohysterectomy

● Sternotomy

● Thoracot­omy

Cruciate repair

● Various types of amputations

How Would A Dog Eat A Lidocaine Patch?

The current variety of lidocaine patches are clean- but not sterile. That’s why they are typically not applied directly to any incision or open wound, but rather on either side of it.

With two or more patches on the dog’s skin, there’s always the possibility that the dog might feel itchy or curious and start licking the lidocaine patch. This would be more difficult if the patch’s adhesive is strong.

The location of the patch is also important. If it’s placed on a spot that’s hard to access for the dog, there’s a lower probability that the dog can dislodge it by its teeth or nails.

Knowing how resourceful dogs are, this is rather rare!

In case the patch is within the dog’s easy reach and it eventually gets dislodged, it might then accidentally ingest it.

You may either be there to witness the incident while the dog eats the patch, or suddenly notice at some point that the patch is missing from the dog’s body and it’s nowhere to be seen.

In both cases, you should deal with the situation with utmost seriousness.

What Is The Effect Of Ingested Lidocaine On A Dog?

Lidocaine is generally safe for dogs- as long as it’s used in the right way.

However, it becomes a high-risk drug if the doses are exceeded, or in situations where a topical formula is ingested.

In these cases, the dog can suffer from high systemic toxicity that can occasionally become fatal.

Even small amounts of lidocaine might be intolerable for a dog.

Some factors may either increase or decrease the seriousness of the matter, such as the dog’s size, weight, pre-existing health conditions, metabolic rate, and the concentration of the ingested lidocaine.

What To Do If Your Dog Accidentally Ingests Lidocaine

It’s always best to let a vet assess the severity of the case. Usually, the initial signs and symptoms of the dog’s situation dictate the right course of action.

Slight discomfort, lethargy, and drooling can all be managed at home.

However any signs of vomiting, disorientation, and clear anxiety are much more serious signs, and usually the dog needs to be taken to a hospital under these circumstances. Vets will then typically try to reverse the drug action or neutralize it.

Following any episode or treatment, the pet owner should provide the dog with plenty of water to decrease any residual toxicity in its blood.

Additionally, the dog should be allowed to rest in a warm and comfortable place. It should also receive as much care and attention as a vulnerable furry friend can get.

Finally, the vet will most likely recommend putting the dog on a special diet for a short period following the event.

At this stage, the poor pooch may require extra proteins, supplements, and antioxidants to help its body recover optimally, in addition to any medications that have been prescribed.

Is Lidocaine Harmful To Dogs?

Lidocaine container

Lidocaine is typically formulated for human use. However, vets have been prescribing it for dogs for quite a while.

This practice hasn’t been stopped, restricted, or criticized because the topical application of lidocaine rarely causes complications for pets.

The intravenous injection of this drug has also saved many dogs’ lives by treating their cardiovascular problems.

In addition, lidocaine has been instrumental in helping canines to cope with surgical interventions, dental procedures (such as for cavities), and post-operative pain.

The part where a dog inadvertently ingests lidocaine is where the problems appear.

Placing an analgesic agent inside the digestive system of a dog can’t possibly be good, after all!

In fact, there are tons of seemingly benign substances that can affect dogs very negatively.

For example, artificial sweeteners such as xylitol can be fatal for dogs when eaten.

Other such harmful materials include foods like avocados, onions, chives, and alcohol and medicines such as Klonopin or Gabapentin.

On that note, there are several pain medications that are considered particularly high risk around pets, so always treat them as hazardous materials.

The manner of how the dog’s body handles certain chemicals is rather unpredictable, so it’s always best then to err on the side of caution rather than take unnecessary risks with your previous pup.

Will Lidocaine Kill A Dog?

According to the FDA, any amount of exposure to certain pain medications can have serious effects on a pet and could even threaten its life.

The exact dosage that could prove fatal isn’t indicated in the organization’s warning, but the gravity of the situation is pretty clear.

Additionally, there have been accounts of cats falling ill then subsequently losing their lives despite several attempts of saving them.

The cats in question had ingested pain medication through everyday interactions with the owners who had been using pain management cream. The exact manner of how the cats ended up with the drug inside their system isn’t known fully.

There have so far been no registered cases of dogs going through similar situations.

Nevertheless, the FDA advises against allowing pets access to any drugs containing lidocaine, gabapentin, baclofen, or prilocaine.

Muscle relaxants like cyclobenzaprine and NSAIDs like flurbiprofen are among the drugs used in many households for pain management. Some of these medicines contain lidocaine, and so it’s highly recommended to keep them out of the reach of pets.

The FDA warning doesn’t specifically include the lidocaine patches commonly used for dogs after surgeries. However, it goes without saying though that these shouldn’t be ingested either!

What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Lidocaine?

White chihuahua squinting eyes

The amount of lidocaine ingested, the size of the dog, and its current state of health are all relevant factors that have an impact on whether or not the dog would be in danger after a Lidocaine-ingestion incident.

The first thing to do is to contact the vet. This is the safest course of action to avoid losing precious time in case the dog needs immediate medical intervention.

The next thing is to observe how the dog is faring. It’s essential to keep track of any odd symptoms, as well as how quickly the dog’s condition changes.

If the dog is visibly ill, then taking it to the veterinary clinic or pet hospital would be necessary. Symptoms like anxiety, vomiting, and disorientation are quite serious. Time is of the essence, so there’s no need at all to ‘wait and see’.

Sometimes the symptoms won’t be so severe, and the dog may not show any serious signs of illness. In that case, a vet will likely recommend continuous monitoring of the dog in the comforts of its own home.

Consistent hydration is definitely vital in helping the dog to metabolize the drug and expel it from its system.

Additionally, the pooch will need to get plenty of rest, as well as some caring love and reassurance from its human friends. Pets often sleep these episodes off- and that’s a good thing (as long as it doesn’t become hard to wake up)!

Practical Tips To Prevent Your Dog From Ingesting Lidocaine

As you’ve no doubt learnt throughout this article, the smallest amount of ingested lidocaine can have large negative implications for dogs.

The risks are high, and the ingestion of this drug is believed to be potentially life-threatening to pets.

That’s why it’s extremely important to practice the highest extent of caution if you or your dog currently uses the drug for treatment.

Here are some helpful points in how you can keep your pup safe:

  • Lidocaine patches are manufactured in a way that makes the adhesive pretty strong. This is primarily to keep it in place. However, perspiration can loosen the adhesive, making it easier for the dog to lick it.
  • Therefore, always make sure the patch is sticking solidly in place.
  • You can put an extra bandage on top of the lidocaine patch to secure it in place if necessary.
  • Dogs can potentially snoop around unused patches, and maybe much on a few. As you can imagine, this is very dangerous. These patches should be kept out of the dog’s reach at all times!
  • If you’re using any medications at all, it’s essential to store them as far away from your dog as possible. This is especially the case with pain management drugs and muscle relaxants.
  • If you’re using a topical analgesic cream, try to keep it covered so your dog can’t get at it! Check with your doctor or vet as to whether or not you can cover the medicated area.
  • If you use an applicator to spread pain management cream, or if you need to wipe it off with a tissue after application, make sure to discard these materials instantly. If you don’t, you are giving your furry friend the opportunity to lick any lidocaine residue that remains!

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