Alkaline batteries are toxic to dogs. When the alkaline material comes in contact with living tissue, necrosis (death of animal or plant tissue) can occur, allowing deep penetration into the area.
Dogs like to chew and the hard coating of batteries is no deterrent. Their strong jaws and teeth can puncture a battery, allowing the material inside to leak which then causes damage to the mouth area. If swallowed, the throat, esophagus and possibly the intestinal tract will become involved.
If the dog swallows the battery, it can cause an obstruction. And if the battery remains in the stomach for a time, it will begin to dissolve, releasing metals such as zinc and lead, poisoning the dog.
Signs that your dog chewed on a battery usually occur a few hours later. They can be mouth irritation followed by ulcers, lethargy, excessive salivation, difficulty swallowing, inappetance, vomiting (sometimes bloody), black stools (an indication of intestinal bleeding), fever and sometimes elevated white blood count.
Small, flat batteries like those found in hearing aids, digital scales, some toys, watches and so on, pose an additional threat, no only from alkaline material, but also from sodium hydroxide which is corrosive and can cause burns and perforations.
Batteries are necessary for many items we use daily, especially at holiday times and other celebrations. And most of us keep an extra supply of different sizes of batteries to fit our needs.
Please keep all batteries in a secure place (I keep mine in the freezer) where your dog can’t reach them. Don’t leave battery-operated toys, watches, calculators or any other items that dogs may consider chewable lying around.
If you suspect your dog has somehow chewed a battery, take him/her to vet or nearest emergency animal clinic quickly to avoid further damage or worse from occurring.