With lots of us getting our gardens ready for spring we have noticed a rise in enquiries involving animals exposed to patio cleaners. The ingredients of these cleaners can differ; however, most contain benzalkonium chloride (BAC), which is also found in many household disinfectants.

Exposure most commonly occurs when the product is applied to a surface (such as a patio, kitchen worktop or floor) and the pet walks across the surface. Grooming and licking the feet results in oral exposure. We also occasionally receive reports of pets drinking directly from a bucket containing a disinfectant.

The primary effects of BAC are due to its irritancy and systemic effects are uncommon. Common signs include drooling, irritation to the mouth, and inappetence. There may also be irritation to the skin, with inflammation and hair loss. Concentrated solutions can cause chemical burns. Signs are often delayed, and animals can present up to 12 hours post exposure.

It is important to always make sure products are used as directed (diluted if appropriate), and to restrict access to pets.