Did you see your dog eat a hand warmer? Did you come home and find part of a hand warmer was missing? Then you’ve come to the right place!
We’ve put together some information on this topic to help you determine if your dog needs to see the vet.
What is a Hand warmer?
Hand warmers are those wonderfully warm things that go into mittens, gloves, or even boots when it gets freezing outside. They usually last from 4-8 hours, working hard to keep your hands and feet warm. But how do they work?
Inside each hand warmer is a packet that contains mostly iron. The iron has been pounded down into a powder. When the powder is exposed to oxygen, it oxidizes, which releases that wonderfully warm heat that keeps us warm.
The iron packets contain some other ingredients, too; however, these are usually to keep the iron dry until it’s used.
The good news is that once the hand warmer’s been used, it’s no longer toxic. However, if the packet was unused, it could be toxic if ingested. The packet could cause iron toxicity, which can cause death.
Symptoms of Iron Toxicity in Dogs
You may notice these symptoms if your dog has ingested a hand warmer packet:
- Diarrhea (may contain blood)
- Abdominal pain
- Rapid heart rate
If your dog shows these symptoms, then it’s time to call the vet now. This could be a medical emergency.
Treatment of Iron Toxicity in Dogs
When you reach the vet’s office, they will try to treat your fur baby as soon as possible. The vet will run your dog’s blood serum levels to see how much iron is in his system.
When it comes to treatment, the goal is decontamination. This may include inducing vomiting, as well as possibly also gastric lavage. Your canine companion will also need an IV to rehydrate and for the addition of medications to soothe the digestive tract.
If your dog has been diagnosed with a lower toxicity level, then the doctor will use chelation therapy to reduce serum iron levels in the blood. This is given via IV.
A dog’s prognosis depends on the level of toxicity (severe, mild, etc.) and how soon he can be treated. Iron poisoning is a very serious threat to health, and it can take several weeks for a dog to feel better.