We feel impelled to issue a warning, to spare other dogs and families this heartbreak.
Many people have recreational fire pits around which they enjoy relaxing time with family and friends. In the country people also have burn piles where wood and debris from around their property is burned. What most people aren’t aware of is the danger the resulting ashes present to one’s dog. It was our tragedy to learn this firsthand in the recent death of our precious dog Liam.
Consuming ashes is, at the least, extremely harmful to dogs. Most folks do not know (or forgot) that the old time way of acquiring lye for soap making is to leach water through hardwood ashes. The leachate is lye, a dangerously caustic substance, both internally and externally. However, even the ash of non-hardwoods when soaked with water will produce a severely caustic substance. If an unknown quantity of wet ashes and/or the soil underneath is ingested by a dog it causes acute alkalosis. In other words, the dog’s ph drops too low, too fast for its body to recover and acts like a toxin, killing the dog within a couple days. The dog suffers miserably. We know.
What can you do to prevent it? For fire pits- keep it cleaned of ashes, being extra careful after rainfall or if the fire pit gets saturated from a sprinkler. Keeping it securely covered so your dog can’t rifle through it would work also, especially if food is roasted in the fire there could be attractive smelling drippings in the ashes. For burn piles- do not bury anything that might attract a dog, like bones or spoiled food of any kind since dogs are scavengers. If possible, somehow block off a dogs’ access to it completely.
What if your dog does ingest ashes? We were told if you suspect your dog ate ashes to dose him/her internally with hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting. This will not be easy or pleasant, but it’s the only thing that can be done. If your dog acts ill or vomits before you suspect, it’s too late to do anything. That’s what happened to Liam.
Please, spread the word about this danger. Safeguard your dogs without delay.
And then give them an extra hug in memory of our sweet Liam. Cherish every precious moment with them!