Friday, 13 May 2011

Dettol : Fine for Lexi but Potentially Fatal for Cats

I know this isn’t a blog about cats but our three Ragdoll cats are Loved by Lexi very much so therefore I really wanted to make more people aware of something I recently discovered regarding cats and Dettol....

Having a baby in the house, hygiene is one of my top priorities; especially having three cats in the house leaving goodness knows what lying around; I am constantly disinfecting just about everything in sight to within an inch of it’s life! That was why I loved Dettol: I used it on the kitchen floor, the worktops, cleaning out the fridge, the door handles, the hearth, the bathroom, cleaning the highchair, the table, Lexi’s toys and the list goes on....

That was until I happened to glance at the label on the bottle of Dettol and saw this warning...


Well my heart went into my mouth. Thinking oh my goodness what have I done I quickly grabbed my iPhone and had the Dettol website before me, where there was a clear warning on the website saying the same thing “Not recommended for use around cats”. I was scared stiff! The first thought I had was “What about Lexi”. If it is harmful to cats, then what on earth is it doing to Lexi?!

After much research online and a lot of panic, I found out that it is NOT harmful to Lexi. It is perfectly fine to use around children and babies and even to use on their toys, highchair etc as I had been doing.

However, regarding cats it is a totally different story! This was the conclusion I reached with my subsequent research:

“The problem for cats lie in one of the active ingredients ‘Phenol’ (also known as Carbolic Acid). Disinfectants containing phenols (those that turn cloudy when mixed with water) are of concern because cats are unable to eliminate the toxins following ingestion. A cat may swallow the product by licking his paws after they have come into contact with it.”

Furthermore; “Phenol and some phenolic compounds and coal-tar acid derivatives used in some disinfectants, specialist soaps and wood treatments, such as creosote, are potentially problematic in many animals especially if the exposure is significant. Cats, birds and some reptiles are known to have a particular sensitivity to these compounds. As acid derivatives phenolic compounds are potentially corrosive and prolonged skin exposures can cause severe skin irritation or burns. If the animals ingest or groom material off contaminated skin they may develop irritation or burns of the mouth and tongue as well. They may therefore vomit or salivate excessively. In severe exposures such substances could be absorbed across damaged skin and cause systemic signs such as breathing difficulties, hyperthermia or even shock. Luckily severe cases are very rare.”

The upshot: Don’t ever use Dettol around cats. Their respiratory system cannot cope with it, the chemicals can crystalise their brain and they are unable to eliminate the toxic phenols if ingested!

My Dettol went straight in the bin... and if you have cats; Please do the same!!!

I want to make clear though that this is ONLY the Dettol that contains Phenols. Just ensure you check the warnings on the label before you buy! Dettol is also not the only solution containing these phenols; they are just the most widely used. Although I recently read an article published by Tesco because they had added a warning label to their Anti-Bacterial Spray saying “Harmful to Cats” because the spray contained Benzalkonium Chloride which is widely known to be poisonous to cats. If it’s in Tesco spray, then it could well be in any other supermarket brand sprays or other well known branded sprays.

The professional advice I was given by a Vet was “Severe phenol poisoning has symptoms ranging from panting and hyperactivity, restlessness, uncommon behaviour such as being aggressive or scared, vomiting, excessive drooling, tremors and seizures, even shock and coma or lethargy. If your pet shows any of those symptoms, he will need to be urgently taken to a veterinary to get specialist care. Identifying the source of the poison and calling them in advance with as much information as possible will increase your pet chances of survival, but urgency is the key word. If the pet can eat, milk or egg whites will help reduce internal corrosion of their digestive system, while waiting for professional care. Above all, don't try to make the pet throw up, since that will increase the damage to tissues. If the coat is contaminated, clipping the substance from the skin and washing the pet will reduce further ingestion, as well as wrapping the pet with a blanket during transport to avoid him cleaning itself. And most importantly of all, get the pet to a vet immediately. Phenol poisoning has no antidote, but in a clinic they can apply palliative measures that will help your pet survive while he's purging the poisons from his system. It's not something that can be done at home, and the chances of your pet dying unless professional care is given are high, especially with cats. But with good professional care the recovery is often quick and complete with no lasting side effects. Prevention is the best cure, so always check the labels of cleaning products, disinfectants, food, hygiene products and medicines that you plan on using around your pet. If you are in doubt better take the safe route and consult your vet. A wasted trip to the vet or a phone call is better than your pet suffering deadly poisoning effects later when you aren't there to notice it.”


My three Ragdoll cats are Loved By Lexi hence I will be checking all labels from now on thoroughly to ensure suitability before use!


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