How to save an animal from burn injury


Maneka Gandhi


(Bihar Times) I was on my way back from my constituency four days ago when I received a call from a villager in Bareilly. He had seen a young bull with acid burns lying near a railway track in his village. He had been watching the animal , lurching with pain through the village and finally collapsed – and only then he thought of calling me. It was 8.30 p.m. I mobilized political people , local doctors, scientists of the Indian Institute of Veterinary Science, rang up my hospital in Delhi and asked the night doctors about the medicines, had them bought and finally the bull , unconscious with pain, started being treated. He was given primary treatment, pain killers and brought to the IVRI to continue the treatment.

He died yesterday. The man who had poured acid on him had also picked up his tail and poured it into his anus –  when the doctors opened him up for post mortem , the entire inside had been eaten away. The young animal would have been in agony for days until he died.The man is now in custody. But no punishment can compensate for the horror and cruelty of his crime.

Acid attacks on animals are not uncommon. Most fruit and vegetable sellers with handcarts have bottles of acid which they throw on hungry cows and monkeys. Butchers in illegal shops throw it on the dogs that cluster round the blood and stray pieces of flesh that they throw around. Neighbours fight and throw acid on each other’s dogs. People throw boiling water to shoo away stray animals on their streets, which also result in severe burns and infections from the wounds.

Acid is the most painful thing in the world. A human may find another human to help – an animal has no one. They stagger about in anguish till they die with toxemia, burns, septicemia. This is what you should do if you come across an animal that has been seared with acid.

Corrosives are divided into acid and alkaline. Acidic household products include anti-rust compounds, toilet bowl cleaners, gun-cleaning fluids, automotive batteries, cleaning agents, and etching compounds, phenol, floor cleaners, varnish, boric acid,. Alkaline corrosive agents include drain openers, paint thinner, toilet bowl cleaners, radiator cleaning agents and metal cleaners. In India most acid attacks are done with floor cleaners, battery acid , hydrochloric acid, sulphuric acid and nitric acid and solutions used to treat jewellery.

Acids are immediately very painful on contact so the animal tries to escape and often saves himself.  Alkaline agents are not as painful immediately so the animal gets far more exposure. For these reasons, burns from alkaline products tend to be deeper and more extensive than burns from acidic agents. Burns from alkaline agents may take up to 12 hr following exposure to become fully apparent, whereas the extent of acid burns is usually evident shortly after contact.

The immediate symptoms of burns are redness, irritation, or burning at the site of contact, formation of blisters or black dead skin at the contact site and blindness if the chemical gets into eyes. In severe cases, the animal will also get low blood pressure, dizziness, muscle twitching or seizures, cardiac arrest or irregular heartbeat.
If you have a vet in the area get him/her immediately. But if not, this is what you should do.

A pre anaesthetic, or a powerful sedative must be administered immediately to calm the animal down and reduce pain so that further treatment is possible.

The burn requires immediate washing with sterile water such as Bisleri. Or water should be boiled, cooled down and then used to wash the burn. Rinse the chemical off the skin or eyes by applying a light stream of room temperature water over it. Avoid using a hard spray of water, as this may cause damage to the burned skin. Rinse for at least 20 minutes.

Then use BETADINE OINTMENT / SILVEREX  /Silver Sulphurdiazine /Soframycine or Burnol on the burn area. No irritant such as Dettol or Savlon should be used. Powder must not be applied to the burn area it will stick to the skin and will cause further irritation and infection. Coconut oil also may be used to cover the burnt area if you have no other medicine.To relieve pain, painkillers such as CROCIN, COMBIFLAM  may be given.

Anti- allergy medicine such as AVIL should be given. MELONEX is a powerful medicine that brings immediate relief and acts as a pain killer, an anti- inflammatory agent and as an anti allergenic.
If you can find a vet , a compounder or a human being doctor, after the wound is cleaned, a solution of saline glucose should be  given to the animal along with medicines such as B Complex and antibiotics such as Ciplox or Augmentin. Keep the animal warm and use some Honey on its gums to keep it conscious.  The animal should be given Pedialyte or Electral to drink if there is no doctor with a glucose drip.

 If the acid has come into contact with the eyes, they must be washed immediately with a Saline solution or sterile water and eye ointment such as NEOSPORIN EYE SOLUTION should be applied.
If it is a Chemical Burn Caused by Carbolic Acid or Phenol, first flush with rubbing alcohol to rinse away traces of the acid. And then rinse with water.
If it is a Chemical Burn Caused by Sulfuric or Hydrofluoric Acid  use a mild soapy solution if the burn is not severe.  Make a solution of bicarbonate of soda by adding a large amount of baking soda to a small amount of water. Follow with a rinse of water.

Blisters will occur in second degree burns. The only thing you can do is applying a light gauze to the blister. Once the blister bursts gently remove the dead skin, for example by washing it off the affected area. The new skin that formed under the blister needs to be protected. The best way to treat the wound is applying a wound dressing for burns to a sterile gauze which is applied to the wound. Honey can be used as a natural wound dressing. Change the honey wound dressing twice a day.

If it is a mild burn and you have no medicines nearby , after the cleaning you can  dry the area with a soft cloth and apply Aloe Vera to the affected area three to five times per day. Do not use cotton balls to dry the burn or to apply any treatments as the cotton fibres may stick to the wound.

A natural treatment used in some areas is to bathe the affected area with vinegar; then apply a thick layer of honey and leave it there for about ten minutes. Keep on applying honey until the pain goes away. After that, lightly bandage the wound by putting cotton cloths on top of a layer of honey. Another remedy is to wash and finely grate raw potato. Mash the pulp and pass it through a strainer. Now apply on the wound. In addition to this, you can apply egg whites.

A serious burn  will take time to heal.  Use a wet-to-dry bandage; a bandage that is applied as wet but dries on the animal.  A good home remedy wet-to-dry treatment for serious burns is to use sterile gauze pads soaked in Sterile Water or Saline Solution.  Press the pad over the burn and cover it with a larger, dry pad and hold it in place with rolled gauze.  You should remove and re-apply this bandage approximately four to five times during the first few days.

The animal should be kept warm and quiet. Provide plenty of fluids. Make sure that the patient eats.
Then hunt down the acid thrower.

To join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in


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