Just about every home has a box of baking soda somewhere, even if the owner doesn't remember buying it. Chemically known as sodium bicarbonate, baking soda is a great odor absorber. While it has many cleaning applications, it is most commonly used for baking; it's what makes cakes and biscuits rise. However, one thing baking soda isn't great for is pets and it can be potentially deadly if ingested by a dog.
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Dangers of baking soda exposure
The exact thing that makes baking soda such an excellent leavening agent in baking is what also makes it so deadly to dogs — namely that when baking soda is exposed to an acidic substance and heat, it expands. That's great when you put it in a cake with a little lemon juice since it softens the dough and adds some sponginess to your dessert. By the same token, it's extremely dangerous when it goes into your dog's stomach and begins expanding, releasing potentially deadly gasses into his gut.
Pet Place warns that ingestion of large amounts of baking soda can result in electrolyte abnormalities, congestive heart failure, or muscle spasms.
Signs of baking soda consumption
According to Pet Poison Control, the first sign of danger is usually vomiting. Other things to look out for include lethargy, diarrhea, depression, tremors, seizures, shortness of breath, or disorientation.
What to do
Dog Food Scoop says baking soda is only dangerous to dogs when ingested in large quantities. Specifically, a dog must eat at least one teaspoon per pound of body weight for the substance to become dangerous. If you suspect your dog ate enough to be at risk, or if your dog was exposed to baking soda and is now showing the warning signs, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible or head to the closest 24-hour animal hospital. You can also call the Animal Poison Control line at 888-426-4435. Do not induce vomiting unless instructed to do so by the vet or Animal Poison Control.
According to Dove Med, among other things, your veterinarian will most likely monitor the dog's symptoms, give her an IV drip for fluids, and administer activated charcoal to avoid the compound from being absorbed into the body. Do not attempt to treat the dog yourself unless told otherwise by a veterinary professional.
Keeping your dog safe
Baking soda must be consumed in large quantities to be dangerous, and it's expanding properties are deactivated when it's cooked, therefore, not a danger to your dog. All this means that using a little baking soda in something you cook for your dog is not a problem. Similarly, while you should use an enzyme-based toothpaste on your pooch, using a little baking soda as toothpaste shouldn't hurt him, but ask your vet before using it for that purpose. Many dog shampoos contain small amounts of baking soda to neutralize odors, and even if your dog licks these shampoos off, it's not enough to cause problems.
It's also important to recognize that baking powder, which is a combination of baking soda, calcium phosphate, and sodium aluminum sulfate, is just as dangerous to dogs as baking soda in large quantities. Both baking soda and baking powder should be kept in the kitchen or bathroom in either a locked cabinet or out of reach of your dog. Never leave these ingredients out on the counter around your dog.
Baking soda is commonly used to deodorize carpets. You can continue to do this, but always keep your dog out of the room between the time you get the baking soda out and sprinkle it on the carpet and the time you vacuum it up. Be sure you vacuumed all of the powder out of the carpet as well.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.