1. Do not touch the animal until the source of electricity has been removed. This may involve disconnecting the power supply to the building.
  2. Avoid touching water that has contact with an electrical device or power source, as water conducts electricity.
  3. If the animal is not breathing or does not have a heart beat you can feel, commence CPR.
  4. Contact your veterinarian immediately, even if your pet appears normal after the episode. Electrical burns tend to cause more deep and less superficial lesions.


  • Surface burns at the point of contact with electrical source (usually around the lips and mouths)
  • Singed or mis-shapen whiskers (for example, straight whiskers may appear curly)
  • Muscle spasms
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Irregular heart rhythm (arrhythmia) leading to heart attack
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rapid breathing rate
  • Facial swelling
  • Coughing due to pooling of fluid in the lungs (oedema)
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Fits or seizures
  • Death
  • Affected animals may have vomiting or diarrhoea following electrocution.


The level of veterinary care depends on the state of the animal. In severe cases animals may need resuscitation with oxygen, fluids and medication to facilitate heart function and stabilise blood pressure.Mildly affected animals may require pain relief (this can be topical or systemic). Electrical burns can take days to declare themselves and may require surgery.


Mann FA (2009) Electrical and Lightning Injuries. In: Small Animal Critical Care Medicine. Ed. Silverstein DC & Hopper K. Missouri, USA: Saunders Elsevier.