1. If your pet is showing signs of laboured breathing, seizures, collapse or unconsciousness, seek veterinary attention immediately.
  2. If your pet has ingested bleach, encourage it to drink milk or water. Animals that are inappetent, experiencing difficulty eating or pain around the mouth or in the abdomen should be taken to the vet.
  3. If bleach is splashed into the eyes, rinse copiously with cool tap water for five minutes then seek immediately veterinary attention.
  4. If bleach has contact with the skin, bath the area with mild soap and rinse thoroughly with water.




Clinical signs usually occur in within 4-6 hours but may be delayed up to 24 hours.

Ingestion of dilute bleach may cause:

  • Nausea
  • Hypersalivation/drooling
  • Inappetence
  • Vomiting (may contain blood)
  • Ulceration of the tongue/mouth
  • Difficulty eating (dysphagia)
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea

Ingestion of concentrated bleach may lead to:

  • Uncoordinated gait (ataxia)
  • Difficulty breathing (dyspnoea)
  • Low body temperature (hypothermia)
  • Seizures
  • Collapse
  • Coma

Contact with skin:

  • Contact with eyes may cause corneal ulceration and sensitivity to light.
  • Contact with skin may cause redness or ulceration of the skin.


Bleach is an alkaline solution which is usually at high concentrations where it is corrosive to skin and mucosal tissues. The amount of tissue damage caused depends on the concentration of the product, viscosity and contact time with mucosal surfaces.


Veterinary care depends on the severity of signs. In severe cases following ingestion of sodium hypochlorite, animals may require oxygen, intravenous fluids, warming, gastroprotectants, pain killers, anti-inflammatories and tests such as blood tests and x-rays to rule out aspiration pneumonia and gastric perforation.

In milder cases, anti-emetics, pain killers and antibiotics may be required.

Corneal ulcers are usually treated with topical antibiotics and anti-inflammatories.

Skin lesions may be treated with topical corticosteroids.



BSAVA (2012) BSAVA/VPIS Guide to Common Canine and Feline Poisons. Gloucester: BSAVA.