Is Sodium Borate Safe for Dogs?by Susan Paretts
Sodium borate, more commonly known as borax, is a naturally occurring mineral salt of boric acid. This white, powdery substance frequently serves in detergents and pest control products. Because of its insecticidal properties, some people sprinkle borax around their homes to kill pests like fleas and roaches. It is best not to do this around Fido. Sodium borate is toxic to our canine companions and shouldn't be used near them.
Borate salts such as sodium borate are naturally occurring forms of the chemical element boron, found in rocks, soil, water and plants, according to the National Pesticide Information Center. These chemicals were officially registered as pesticides in 1993 with the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Borax particles are sharp at the microscopic level; borax kills bugs by tearing their bodies and causing them to dry out, as well as serving as a poison when ingested, disrupting the bugs' nervous systems. Borax also serves as an anti-fungal because it prevents fungal spores from reproducing. It even acts as an herbicide, drying out plants when sprinkled on them in large quantities.
Borax isn't just toxic to bugs, plants and fungi, it's also toxic to dogs and to people as well. Within two hours of ingestion of sodium borate, your dog may experience symptoms including vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, drooling and excessive thirst, warns the NPIC. Contact with borax can cause redness or irritation of the skin. Inhalation of borax by your pooch can cause coughing or shortness of breath, according to Vetstream. Chronic ingestion of borax may result in damage to your pup's endocrine system, brain and other organs, including his reproductive organs, the EPA says. Borax can also cause irritation of your dog's eyes and even lead to tremors, seizures, lethargy, coma and even death if ingested in large quantities.
If you suspect your pup has ingested, touched or inhaled borax, get him to the vet right away for treatment. Your vet can provide supportive care for skin or inhalation issues. If Fido’s ingested borax, your vet may induce vomiting or pump your pup's stomach to remove as much of the sodium borate in his system as possible, according to Vetstream. A vet will give your pooch intravenous fluids and drugs to correct any acid imbalances in your dog's system caused by the sodium borate. With veterinary care, the prognosis for borax poisoning is usually good unless your dog has eaten a large amount of the substance, which is rare because it's not particularly tasty to dogs.
While you can use borax to kill fleas on fabrics and carpeting, don't sprinkle this substance in areas your pup frequents without thoroughly vacuuming it away so that he doesn't get it on his paws and lick it off. When setting baits up for roaches and ants using borax mixed with tasty items like jelly or peanut butter, keep such baits away from your pup so he doesn't eat them. To dog-proof such baits, place them within sealed jars that have holes punched in the lids, recommends the Colorado State University Extension Program. This way, the bugs can get inside the jar but Fido can't.
- 20 Mule Team Borax: Frequently Asked Questions
- National Pesticide Information Center: Boric Acid
- Vetstream: Borax Poisoning
- Beyond Pesticides: Boric Acid/Borates/Borax
- United States Environmental Protection Agency: Boric Acid
- Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services: Frequently Asked Questions About Boric Acid for Control of Snails
- Veterinary Support Personnel Network: Acids and Alkalis
- Journal of Pesticide Reform: Boric Acid and Borates
- Colorado State University Extension Program: Ants in the Home
- Michael Loccisano/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images