Monday, November 16, 2009

Civilian Use of Pet Oxygen Mask: Oxygen Safety Tips

Your veterinarian may prescribe oxygen if your pet's lungs are not getting enough oxygen to the blood and/or has difficulty breathing. Breathing prescribed oxygen increases the amount of oxygen in the blood, usually reduces shortness of breath and other symptoms, and helps increase survival. Prescribed oxygen might also help protect the pet's heart.

The air we breathe every day contains 21 percent oxygen. The oxygen you will receive at home is close to 100 percent pure oxygen. Because it is a pure concentration of oxygen, home oxygen is considered to be a drug and must be prescribed by your veterinarian. Oxygen is not addictive and causes no side effects when used as prescribed.

Where Can I Find an Oxygen Provider? 
The veterinarian that recommended you use oxygen therapy should be able to provide you with that information. Remember that regardless of whether 100% oxygen is to be used on people or pets you will need a prescription. Contact local welding companies as they may be able to provide you with that refill.
Companies such as Roberts Oxygen Home Medical Services can provide refills for as long as you provide them with a prescription. Roberts Oxygen only provides services on the following states: PA, NJ, DE, MD, WV, VA, NC and SC.  For a list of locations visit then click on locations to find your local office.
In other areas, either ask your veterinarian and/or run a search for distributors of compressed industrial, medical and specialty gases in Google, Bing or your local yellow pages. If that fails you may contact YOUR primary care physician and/or local nursing homes and ask them to provide you with a reputable oxygen provider. There is no difference between human and pet oxygen. The flow rates need to be provided by your veterinarian.

What Do I Need I To Get
Compressed oxygen comes in a tank that stores oxygen as a gas. A flow meter and a regulator are attached to the tank to adjust the oxygen flow. Sold separately.
The tanks vary in size, from very large stationary tanks to tanks that are small enough to carry around.
Pet oxygen masks kits include 3 different masks, each with a suggested flow rate: Small: 1 to 3 liters. Medium: 3 to 5 liters. Large: 5 to 7 liters (consult your veterinarian to get appropriate flow rate for your pet)

     Oxygen is a safe gas as long as it is used properly. Contrary to what most people believe, oxygen will not explode. Oxygen does, however, support combustion. Therefore, any material that is already burning will burn much faster and hotter in an oxygen-enriched atmosphere. It is very important to follow the precautions listed here below so that you and your family are safe when you are using your oxygen.

Regular Oxygen Use Tips
* Keep a written list of what rate (how much) oxygen your pet needs. Never increase the flow rate on your oxygen without your veterinarian's permission.
* Keep the phone number near of the company that brings the oxygen to your home. Call them if you have any problems.
* Have a back-up oxygen system to use in an emergency.
* Order your new supply of oxygen 2 to 3 days before you will need it or when the gauge reads 1/4 full.
* Check the tubing if you are not sure the oxygen is coming through the tube. Look for kinks, blockages, or to see if the tubing has become disconnected from the oxygen container. Also check if the oxygen is turned on.

Important Safety Considerations When Using Oxygen At Home:
- Do not store the oxygen system near any heat sources or open flames.
- Call your fire department and tell them that oxygen is being used in the house.
- Keep a working fire extinguisher within easy reach. Make sure you and your family knows how to use it.
- Do not smoke nor allow others to smoke in the same room as your oxygen system. Cigarette smoking is very dangerous. Sparks from a lighted cigarette could cause facial burns.
- Post "No Smoking" signs in the room where your oxygen is kept.
- Post Notice by front door to let first responders and guests know that oxygen is being used on the premises along with a do not smoke sign.
Click HERE to download the Card in English in Portrait Format (PDF)
Click HERE to download the Card in English in Landscape Format (PDF)
Click HERE to download the Card in Spanish in Portrait Format (PDF)
Click HERE to download the Card in Spanish in Landscape Format (PDF)

- If a fire starts, turn off the oxygen right away and leave the house.
- Turn off the oxygen system when it is not being used.
- Keep pet and oxygen supply at least six feet away from any open flame or heat source (candles, gas stove, etc.)
- Do not change the oxygen flow rate on your own. This can lead to serious side-effects. If you feel your pet is not getting enough oxygen, contact your veterinarian.
- Never use more than 50 feet of oxygen tubing. This can dilute the concentration of oxygen that your pet is receiving.
- Stay with your pet when providing oxygen.
- Do not expose the oxygen equipment to electrical appliances (such as electric razors, hair dryers, electric blankets, etc.).
- Be sure that all electrical equipment in the area near the oxygen is properly grounded.
- Be sure to have a functioning smoke detector and fire extinguisher in your home at all times.
- Keep the oxygen system away from aerosol cans or sprays, including air fresheners or hair spray. These products are very flammable.
- Keep the oxygen system clean and dust-free. Your oxygen provider will show you how to do this.
- Do not use cleaning products or other products containing grease or oils, petroleum jelly, alcohol, or flammable liquids on or near your oxygen system. These substances cause oxygen to be flammable.
- Keep the oxygen system in a place where it won’t get knocked over.
- Always store your oxygen equipment in a well-ventilated area.
- An oxygen cylinder must be secured at all times. Put it in a cart or lay it down flat.
- Do not carry liquid oxygen in a backpack or other enclosed space. Carrying cases, shoulder or hand bags, shoulder straps, and backpack oxygen units are available that provide proper ventilation for the unit to ensure safety.
- Secure loose cords and extra tubing so you don’t trip on them when using your oxygen system.
- Secure floor mats and throw rugs so that you will not trip or fall when using your oxygen system.
- Be sure doorways, hallways, and rooms can accommodate you if you have a portable oxygen system.
- Notify your electric company if you are using an oxygen concentrator system so they can make your house a priority during a power outage.
- Oxygen is a drug and must be used as your doctor ordered. Too much or too little can be harmful.
- Take precautions to avoid skin contact when filling your portable liquid oxygen tank, as frost buildup could cause injury.
- Always have backup tanks available, and know how to use them.
- Do not put the oxygen tubing under clothing, bed covers, furniture, or carpets.
- If you hear oxygen hissing or if the tank empties too fast, turn off all flames like candles. Remember to also turn off the pilot light on a stove. Open windows to help clear out any extra oxygen. Call the company that brought the oxygen system to your home right away.
Source: Cleveland Clinic (

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