Through the years, I have concluded that my pain threshold is almost close to zero. The slightest bump or knock will transform me into a crying drama queen. Imagine the horrid fear I had to endure when going through minor surgeries.
Thank goodness for anesthesia.
If you or your pet have required pain management drugs before, the doctor might have prescribed some lidocaine patches or cream to help numb the pain around the affected area.
Don’t be surprised to find your dog licking the lidocaine patch or cream out of curiosity.
But what happens if a dog licks lidocaine?
Lidocaine is harmful to dogs and can cause damage to the dog’s internal organs and bodily functions when ingested. Larger doses of lidocaine in dogs can even be fatal if left untreated. Lidocaine needs to be kept away from pets to prevent accidental ingestion.
Let us take a deeper look and what lidocaine is and the harmful effects that it can have on your dog.
What Is Lidocaine?
Lidocaine (LYE Do Kane) is an anesthetic. What an anesthetic does is numb the sensation of the skin and the area around it.
It isn’t a new drug but one that has been used since 1949.
This local anesthetic works well for preventing pain when performing surgery or treating pain from sunburns or insect bites.
Lidocaine can be used as a topical analgesic cream, lidocaine spray, transdermal lidocaine patch or injected into the dog’s muscle with the same effect.
Lidocaine is sold under commercial or brand names like Xylocaine, Zteldo, and Lignocaine.
It is possible to buy this over the counter or have the doctor prescribe it for you.
Do not attempt to use lidocaine intravenous injections without consulting your doctor first as it can affect your breathing and heart rate.
How Does Lidocaine Work?
Lidocaine works by preventing your nerve sensors from sending the ‘pain signals’ to your brain. It blocks your sodium channels and lowers the number of contractions in the heart.
Not only does this help with pain management but it works well as a treatment for people suffering from irregular heartbeats or ventricular arrhythmias.
Any type of medication that can alter your nerve receptors and heart rate needs to be treated with extreme caution and used under sound medical advisement.
Is Lidocaine Harmful To Dogs?
Even though Lidocaine was initially invented and marketed for human use, there are many vets around the world that are also using it as a pain management cream or injection for our pets.
It is more commonly used as a local anesthetic on pets before surgery.
Some vets will even prescribe a lidocaine patch to help your dog manage the pain after surgery and speed up the recovery process.
Generally speaking, when used under proper doses and supervision, lidocaine isn’t harmful to dogs.
The problem arises when the dog licks lidocaine in large doses which can result in adverse health effects.
How My Dog Gets Its Paws On Lidocaine?
You might be wondering “How on earth can my dog come into contact with Lidocaine?”
If your dog has recently gone through surgery, the vet might stick a few lidocaine patches around the surgical incision to help alleviate the pain.
Alternatively, there is also topical cream that can work the same way.
If it is in an area that your dog can reach with its mouth, it might attempt to remove it or worse, swallow it.
These lidocaine patches usually stick pretty firmly to your dog’s skin. But it can start to come loose if there’s perspiration or moisture between the adhesive and skin.
Do a frequent check to make sure it’s stuck firmly and change it out when it starts to come loose.
The vet will most likely put an Elizabethan collar on your dog to prevent it from gaining access to the patch.
Your dog probably won’t be happy about it but it is for the better.
If you have creams, sprays or medication that contains lidocaine, leaving them lying around is a recipe for disaster.
Using a bandage to temporarily wrap up these areas can stop your dog from licking the patch or cream. Make sure to use a fresh bandage each time to keep things sanitary.
Make sure to keep them locked in a place that your dog can’t get to.
If you use an applicator or cotton bud to apply the pain relief cream on yourself, do not throw these items in the bin.
Dogs are notorious for digging through trash and can eat the item out of curiosity.
What Happens If A Dog Licks Lidocaine?
First of all, don’t panic if your dog accidentally ingests lidocaine. Depending on your dog’s weight and age, the ingested pain medication can’t do much serious harm.
The most important things to note are how much lidocaine might your dog have eaten and in what form.
Give your vet a call to let them know about the incident.
They might ask you to bring your dog in immediately for treatment if the dosage consumed is large.
Pre-existing health conditions or allergies can exacerbate the toxicity of lidocaine.
Otherwise, the next best thing is for the pet owner to closely monitor the dog for the next 24-48 hours.
There are a few things that you might notice after your dog has accidentally ingested its postoperative pain management patch or cream.
Whenever your dog has eaten something that its body doesn’t agree with, vomiting will be its natural defense mechanism.
The vomiting should subside after one or two sessions but if it doesn’t you need to get your dog to the vet ASAP.
Non-stop vomiting means that there is a very serious adverse reaction to lidocaine.
Similar to vomiting, diarrhea is another way that our bodies try to eliminate something that isn’t right for us.
The lidocaine might have given your dog a tummy upset and it is expelling the chemical via its poo.
The diarrhea should start to clear up within a day otherwise, your dog needs a visit to the vet immediately.
Excessive diarrhea causes the body to lose too much water and electrolytes. This can be deadly if the diarrhea isn’t stopped.
Given that lidocaine has a numbing effect, your dog will most definitely be feeling it after ingesting lidocaine.
It might appear to be fearful, anxious, disorientated or confused.
Get your dog to a dark and quiet corner of the house and let it rest. The last thing your dog needs now is any external stimulation.
Your dog might also be drooling more than normal due to the numbing effect in the mouth.
Dogs also drool more than normal if they have eaten something toxic like plants or cleaning solution.
Can Lidocaine Be Fatal For My Dog?
Just so that we are clear, the ‘caine’ in lidocaine does not have any relation to the word ‘canine’. Even though it is used on dogs, a lidocaine overdose can still be fatal for dogs.
The FDA has issued a statement saying that non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) or pain relief creams are deadly to cats.
These creams are used to treat arthritis, soft tissue injuries and tendonitis.
There was an incident whereby the owner of three cats was using such a cream without any direct application to the cats.
Unfortunately, the three cats died due to internal organ damage and loss of appetite.
It was concluded that the cats might have gotten the cream onto themselves when they rubbed against the owner.
The cream was then unknowingly ingested by the cats when they groomed themselves.
Although they have been no official similar incidents involving dogs, there is also a strong probability that dogs too can suffer from the same adverse health effects if exposed to such pain medications in large dosages.
What Topical Creams Are Safe For Dogs?
When it comes to applying topical cream on your dog or any pet for that matter, do not use any human medicines without asking your vet.
What works well for us won’t necessarily work the same way on your pets. In fact, it can have the opposite effect.
Many of these creams contain active ingredients that can be harmful to your dog if swallowed. Therefore, it would be best to get a cream that is meant for dogs from your vet.
Such creams are formulated to be fast-absorbing to prevent your dog from licking them.
If you are getting any topical creams from a pet store, make sure to run them by your vet before applying the cream to your dog.
Even if it is safe for dogs, your dog might have an underlying health issue that can cause an adverse reaction.
The best time to put the cream on your dog is when it is distracted.
This can be when you are taking your dog out for a walk, during its meal or have someone feed it treats while you do the deed.
If all the above doesn’t work and your dog is still trying to lick the cream off, put an e-collar on your dog for an hour or so.
E-collars or cones are a good way to prevent your dog from licking certain parts of its body.
But not all dogs can tolerate the cone and can be really miserable. You should consider better alternatives if the dog cone isn’t working.
What If My Dog Licks Antifungal Cream?
Fungal infections in dogs are rather common as they spent more time outdoors than most pets.
This infection is caused by fungi which are microscopic organisms that are looking for a host to live and feed on, like your dog.
Fungal infections can cause soreness, itchiness, hair loss and swelling. The antifungal cream can help heal the skin and eliminate the fungi.
Vets will generally prescribe an antifungal cream that is safe for your dog. It might not be in your dog’s best interest to lick the cream but it won’t cause serious harm.
What Happens If A Cat Licks Lidocaine?
The FDA has already issued a warning that pain relief chemicals like lidocaine can be very toxic to our pets, especially cats.
Even if the medication isn’t directly applied to cats, mere contact with someone who has the cream on them is enough to do bad damage.
If you are applying any NSAIDs and have cats at home, keep away from them for a few hours at least.
If there’s any accidental contact, immediately take a suitable wet wipe to wipe your cat thoroughly.
Do NOT take the chance of hoping that nothing bad will happen.
I know that you are starting to feel paranoid about lidocaine if you are currently dealing with it at home.
Not to worry.
I have been there myself a few times without any mishaps.
Just make sure to do what you can to keep your dog’s mouth and canine curiosity away from anything that has lidocaine or flurbiprofen.
When in doubt, always consult your vet on the next best step.