Emergency note: Before we start, if you suspect your dog has ingested a zinc pill, then Call The Vet Right Away! Be sure to advise him of any symptoms your dog may be having. Do not induce vomiting, unless the vet instructs you to do so. Zinc toxicity can be a life-threatening health issue for you fur baby.
Zinc—Can It Be Toxic?
Zinc is an essential mineral that we need to stay healthy. It’s found throughout our bodies in low amounts in most tissues. Zinc is crucial to many bodily functions; we and our canine companions need the right amount of zinc to maintain health. While we and our fur babies need zinc to stay healthy, too much zinc can be toxic. This condition is known as zinc toxicity. Zinc poisoning is a common cause of poisoning for dogs.
Zinc Toxicity in Dogs
The zinc pills you take more than likely contain more zinc than your fur baby needs, though toxicity levels of zinc are not completely determined for dogs. It can depend on their size and how much zinc they’ve ingested.
When zinc pills enter the stomach, they begin to break down, which can lead to an upset stomach. The zinc is also absorbed into the bloodstream.
Zinc poisoning in dogs can cause:
- Destruction of red blood cells
- Liver damage
- Kidney failure
- Heart failure
Are There Other Ways a Dog Can Develop Zinc Poisoning?
Yes! Zinc is found in metal, diaper rash creams, sunscreen, and more. It’s found in many OTC supplements and medications, including nasal sprays, vitamin supplements, lozenges, and cold remedies. In addition, dogs may find old pennies (made before 1982) that contain high levels of zinc.
So, if your dog finds and eats the following items, he could develop zinc poisoning:
- Galvanized steel
- Board game pieces
- And more
Dogs that eat such items may require an endoscopic or surgical procedure to remove them.
Signs & Symptoms of Zinc Toxicity in Dogs
If your fur baby has ingested a zinc pill, he could exhibit the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain
- Lack of appetite
- Pale mucus membranes
- Urine that’s reddish in color
Severe zinc poisoning can lead to seizures and death.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Dog Zinc Poisoning
The vet will perform a physical exam and will also ask you when your dog showed symptoms. Be sure to tell the vet how many milligrams of zinc were in the pill, if possible.
Next the vet may run tests including a radiograph of your canine companion’s intestinal tract. They will also verify the zinc poisoning through blood tests.
Your fur baby may need to be hospitalized. The vet may choose to begin IV therapy to help stimulate urination. Medications may be given to help stop the formation of zinc salts and treat nausea. Your fur baby may also require a blood infusion.
Other treatments can include anti-nausea medications, antacids, anti-diarrheal medications, etc. In some severe cases of zinc poisoning, the vet may need to give the dog medications that bind and remove the zinc from their system. The vet will also run blood tests to check your dog’s red blood cell count and will monitor your fur baby’s kidney and liver function.
Prognosis for Zinc Poisoning in Dogs
Early treatment is crucial to your dog’s life. If caught early enough, the more serious symptoms may be avoided. Your vet may want to monitor your pup’s health once he recovers. Dogs sometimes develop other complications as a result of zinc poisoning.
How to Prevent Zinc Poisoning
Some dogs regularly eat things they find on the floor or on the ground outside. In that case, it can be challenging to keep your fur baby from eating the items listed above. But there are some things you can do to keep your canine companion safe:
- Keep all coins out of your dog’s reach, as well as any other metal items
- Keep all zinc-containing creams, sunscreens, etc. out of your dog’s reach
- You may want to find a cabinet or shelf that’s high up where you fur baby can’t get to it.
Prevention is always the best way to keep your dog safe and healthy!