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What is Vitamin D Poisoning?

Vitamin D poisoning, or Cholecalciferol poisoning, in cats occurs due to a calcium overload of the liver and kidneys. Vitamin D is quickly absorbed by the body and stored in the adipose (fat) tissue shortly after ingestion. A healthy amount of vitamin D is converted to calcifediol by the liver to be metabolized by the kidneys and distributed in the blood plasma. Just the right amount of vitamin D will aid the body’s control of the nervous system, muscles and aid in the formation of bone, as the organs regulate a proper balance of phosphorus, plus calcium. However, when large amounts of vitamin D are absorbed, the body produces too much phosphorous and calcium (hyperphosphatemia and hypercalcemia), resulting in kidney failure as well as cardiac abnormalities.

Vitamins and minerals are needed to maintain bodily functions in your cat, but an overdose of these essential elements can have ill effects. Vitamin D poisoning in cats occurs when your cat has ingested more vitamin D than the body can handle, causing a lethal overdose. Vitamin supplements, rat poison, and even some plants contain high levels of the D vitamin known as cholecalciferol. When a feline ingests high levels of cholecalciferol accidently, or if the owner overdoses the cat with vitamin D, the body is overwhelmed and the once helpful vitamin becomes a poison.

Vitamin D Poisoning Average Cost

From 363 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$500

Symptoms of Vitamin D Poisoning in Cats

Vitamin D poisoning in cats caused by ingestion of a pesticide, a supplement overdose, or accidental consumption, will cause the feline’s calcium levels to drastically increase. This high level of calcium, also known as hypercalcemia, can cause a mineralization (hardening) of the lungs, stomach wall, kidneys, and blood vessels. Once the high levels of calcium have caused mineralization to occur throughout the body, the feline will undergo kidney failure, complications of the heart, and internal bleeding. 

Clinical signs of vitamin D poisoning in cats will generally develop between 18 and 36 hours after ingestion. Initial symptoms of vitamin D poisoning in cats include:

  • Polydipsia (excessive thirst) 
  • Polyuria (excessive urination) 
  • Anorexia (refusal to eat)
  • Depression 

As the body reacts to the high level of vitamin D, the cat’s calcium and phosphorus serum levels rise within 12 to 24 hours after ingestion, causing secondary symptoms of: 

  • Hematemesis (internal bleeding) 
  • Vomiting 
  • Nausea 
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Causes of Vitamin D Poisoning in Cats

Vitamin D poisoning in cats is caused by accidental consumption of a vitamin D containing product or overdose of a vitamin D products, plant, or supplement. Common vitamin D containing products that cats can come in contact with and have poison potential include: 

  • Vitamin D3 rodenticide (cholecalciferol) 
  • Human medications:

    Medications used to treat renal failure, osteoporosis, osteomalacia, hypoparathyroidism and hypophosphatemic disorders contain high concentrations of vitamin D that could be toxic if your cat accidently ingests just one tablet. 

  • Commercial pet foods:

    Commercially purchased pet foods high in vitamin D have been reported in outbreaks of pet poisoning since 2010. Most pet foods have been recalled and are no longer available for purchase, but food labels advertising a high level of vitamin D should be avoided unless instructed by a licensed veterinarian. 

  • Vitamin D-containing plants:Trisetum flavescens

    , Solanum malacoxylon or Cestrum diurnum (jessamine or jasmine) ornamental potted plants can be tempting for a cat to chew on and are easily ingested. 

  • Vitamin D supplements:

    Vitamin tablets, powders and liquids sold commercially to pet owners can be toxic when used improperly. A veterinarian should always be consulted before adding a vitamin or mineral supplement to your cat’s diet, as overdose is common.  

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Diagnosis of Vitamin D Poisoning in Cats

Diagnosis of vitamin D poisoning in cats is primarily established through a physical examination and the signs the cat is presenting. The veterinarian will ask you what types of plants, pesticides, and household medications your cat could have easy access to on a daily basis. He or she will also ask you what type of medications and supplements your cat is currently taking, as he reviews your cat’s medical history. Diagnostic testing will most likely begin with a urinalysis, biochemistry profile, and complete blood count. Vitamin D toxicity will cause your cat’s phosphate and calcium levels to rise drastically. Therefore, diagnostic tests of the urine and blood will help your veterinarian in diagnosing the problem at hand. Vitamin D poisoning also causes internal bleeding as your cat’s clotting factors deplete, therefore, an anticoagulation test is also a common diagnostic test performed. 

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Treatment of Vitamin D Poisoning in Cats

Vitamin D poisoning in cats is an emergency situation and your veterinarian will want to begin treatment as soon as possible. Your veterinarian may try to induce vomiting in an attempted to remove an ingested substance before it is absorbed. If the poison has already been absorbed by the body, the doctor may try an activated charcoal which will bind to the toxin, preventing further absorption. Intravenous fluid therapy is commonly given to the cat to aid in eliminating the poison through urination and a blood transfusion may be necessary to those who have lost blood due to internal bleeding. All vitamin D poisoned felines will be hospitalized during treatment. 

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Recovery of Vitamin D Poisoning in Cats

Unfortunately, the prognosis for vitamin D poisoning in cats is rather poor, even with treatment if symptoms have become present. They key to a cat surviving vitamin D poisoning is timing. If a pet owner is present to see the feline ingest an excessive amount of vitamin D or if you realize you have overdosed your cat with a vitamin D supplement, rush your cat to the emergency veterinary center immediately.

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Vitamin D Poisoning Average Cost

From 363 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$500

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Vitamin D Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Domestic Long Hair

dog-age-icon

Three Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

None Yet

My cat ate half of my vitamin pill is he okay? He seems normal

July 11, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Hello, This may be toxic to your cat. It may be best for your cat to see a vet. If your cat is vomiting or having diarrhea or acting lethargic, it would be best to see your vet. They can start your cat on medication to treat this toxicity. I hope your cat starts to feel better soon.

July 11, 2020

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Ozzy

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Domestic short hair tiger

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Pacing

Ozzy just knocked over my bottle and before I could get him he ate maybe 3 or 4. He just ate them so he isn't having any symptoms yet. He's the size of an adult cat and I don't know how much he weighs

Sept. 16, 2018

Ozzy's Owner

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Nymiria

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Manx

dog-age-icon

10 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

None Yet

My cat ate a vitamin that was for my dog. It's the head to tail vitamin + she ate most of it and it's a multi vitamin. Shes 10 months old and weighs about 10 lbs. I'm honestly worried and can't sleep thinking my baby will die.

July 21, 2018

Nymiria's Owner


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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Without knowing what ingredients are in the vitamin, I can't comment on whether Nymiria will have a problem or not, but most multivitamins would not be toxic in small quantities. If you are not sure, you can also call the pet poison hotline and get more information. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control

July 21, 2018

It has 200iu of vitamin d3. Almost 3x as much of all the vitamins as the cat one.

July 21, 2018

Nymiria's Owner

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Nila

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Siberian

dog-age-icon

5 Years

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Critical severity

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0 found helpful

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Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Hypercalcemia, Anorexia Etc.

Just wanted to share my experience with D vitamin poisoning. Picked up my 12 weeks old kitten from a breeder, and got a vitamin supplement from the breeder as well that she gave to all new pet owners. At 16 weeks my kitten started feeling unwell, and we took her to the vet. They ran tests and told us her calcium levels were through the roof. They also told us she probably had kidney failure and wouldn't make it. They told us it was best to euthanize. We decided to fight for her, so she went through a number of tests until finally I read somewhere that it might be vitamin poisoning. Low and behold, when tested for that she had many times the normal level. Turns out she's super sensitive to D vitamin, and what other cats have no problem with actually poisoned her. Now, her kidney values aren't great as she probably suffered permanent damage, but at 5 years old today, she's a seemingly healthy little lady. My point is there's always hope even with a critical condition like this. (Oh, and the breeder stopped using that product). :)

July 19, 2018

Nila's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for sharing your story - fat soluble vitamins are always used with caution, and I am glad to hear that Nila pulled through that!

July 19, 2018

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Alfredo

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Domestic shorthair/siamese mix

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8 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

None

I take a liquid vitamin d supplement that's 5000IU. It spilled all over my purse. After I cleaned off an item it spilled on, my cat licked that item. Should I be worried about him getting poisoned? Even though it's a liquid, I spray it on my inner cheek or underneath the tongue to be absorbed via the bloodstream. I know its toxic in high doses, but I'm not sure how much, if any, he got from my cleaned item. He seems fine now.

July 6, 2018

Alfredo's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Without being able to get an accurate measurement for the amount that Alfredo licked, it is hard to say if he will have problems, but I cannot imagine that he ate enough to cause a toxicity from your description. It seems that you cleaned everything and he only licked the item. I feel that he will be okay. Things to watch for if not include lethargy, increased drinking and urination, and loss of appetite.

July 7, 2018

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Ibn

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Ginger tabby

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Just Some Vomiting

Vitamin D2 50,000 units was ingested by my cat Ibn. Panicking I called the pet poison control center. Ibn is well above weight >.> He is a Ginger Tabby notorious for eating what is front of them. He is 18-20 lbs. I am glad to find out the D2 is not as toxic as D3. We had to clean up a few puke spots and just watch if he started showing signs.

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Leia

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tabby

dog-age-icon

3 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

None

I take vitamin D tablets as I have a deficiency - more specifically, 25,000unit capsules of InVita D3 (cholecalciferol). They’re described as ‘soft capsules’ but are more like hard boiled sweets in texture, and are oval shaped and slightly bigger than a pea. I opened one about 15 minutes ago but it sprang from the packet and I didn’t see where it landed. I cannot find it anywhere, and my cat, Leia, was eating from her bowl in the same room during this time. I find it hard to believe that she would eat something unfamiliar and of this consistency even if, by chance, it landed in her bowl - but as I can’t find the tablet, I’m panicking a little. Leia has been to the vets today already because she’s had a problem with her mouth that is making eating difficult for her, which, again, makes it difficult for me to (logically) believe she would have eaten it. I’m worried that any symptoms she may display if she HAS eaten it will be more to do with the issue she’s been treated for today. If, hypothetically, she had eaten the tablet, would it be toxic to her? I’m unsure as to how much would cause problems. She has had two injections today already (I’m not sure what - one was a 24 hour anti-inflammatory injection, and the other was antibiotics for the problem with her mouth) and weighs just under 4KG. I’ll take her to an emergency vet if required but don’t know what to do. Any help would be massively appreciated.

dog-name-icon

Meowth and Kuwabarra

dog-breed-icon

dsh

dog-age-icon

1 Year

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

None

My 2 dogs and 2 cats consumed some flukers repta boost appetite stimulant and I'm unsure if it is necessary to take them to emergency they appear to be fine so signs of problems and it was only about 1/4 of a table spoon at max for each that they might have consumed. Should I be concerned?

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Sam

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Domestic house cat

dog-age-icon

6 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

None

I got home and our cats’ multivitamin has spilled in the floor. It’s almost dry so we don’t know if they consumed all or a few. The Bottle is half empty with an original volume of 120ml. With 500 IU per 5ML. 500x60= 30,000 IU , Sam is around 5kg and Simone is around 1kg. Do I need to bring them to the Vet? They haven’t showed any symptoms yet

dog-name-icon

Dean

dog-breed-icon

Domestic shorthair

dog-age-icon

2 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

My 6 year old daughter got a hold of our newborns Vitamin D drops and proceeding to pour it all over our cat. He was licking the medicine off of his paws and we rinsed him off in the shower as soon as we realized what she’d done. Do we need to worry that he overdosed or can we wait and see?

Vitamin D Poisoning Average Cost

From 363 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,000

Average Cost

$500

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