Borate Poisoning in Dogs

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Borate Poisoning in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Veterinary reviewed by: Dr. Linda Simon, MVB MRCVS

Borate Poisoning in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Borate Poisoning?

Sodium borate is a naturally occurring mineral and salt of a boric acid that is harvested from evaporated lakes. It is more commonly referred to as Borax and is used in laundry and cleaning products, as a pH buffer in biochemical labs, as a welding component, as a water softening agent, and in the creation of ceramic goods. It is used in some countries as an ingredient in food but is banned in the US. Dogs can exhibit signs of toxicity at approximately .02 ounces of boric acid per pound of bodyweight.

Borate, or sodium borate, is used in laundry detergent, cleaning products, and pesticides. If your dog ingests sufficient amounts of this ingredient, it can become toxic.

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Borate Poisoning Average Cost

From 585 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,000

Symptoms of Borate Poisoning in Dogs

The vomiting and diarrhea that are exhibited with sodium borate poisoning are generally a blue-green in color and often contain blood. 

  • Blood in urine
  • Coma 
  • Cough
  • Decreased urine production
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry skin
  • Excessive drooling
  • Kidney damage
  • Lack of coordination 
  • Muscle weakness 
  • Rash
  • Seizures
  • Skin discoloration
  • Tremors 
  • Vomiting 
  • Weight loss
  • Death

Types

Acute borate poisoning

This is the kind of poisoning that you would see if your canine ate a fairly substantial amount of the household product containing the sodium borate. This is most common with ingestions of borate as an ingredient in a pesticide such as roach killers and flea treatments.  

Chronic borate poisoning

Chronic borate poisoning is less common, but if they encounter it on the floor frequently, or from nibbling on plants sprayed with pesticides made with sodium borate, they can develop additional signs and symptoms. Weight loss, kidney damage, and hormone disruption can result from chronic exposure to this chemical.

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Causes of Borate Poisoning in Dogs

Borate or boric acid can be found in a large variety of household products that your dog may encounter, either indoors or out. These can include:

  • Antiseptics
  • Concealers and foundations
  • Diaper creams
  • Enamels and glaze
  • Flea and tick medications
  • Insecticides
  • Medicated powders
  • Paints 
  • Rodent poisons
  • Shaving cream
  • Shower gel
  • Skin lotions
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Diagnosis of Borate Poisoning in Dogs

Many of the symptoms of borax poisoning are common to other poisonings, such as excessive drooling, depression, lethargy, muscle weakness, and lack of coordination. The blue-green color of your pet’s vomit and diarrhea is somewhat unique and should point your veterinarian in the right direction. If certain concentrations of borate are left on the skin too long, it can also cause uncomfortable rashes, which your veterinarian may find during the physical exam, particularly on your dog’s face or paws.

The oral cavity and the esophagus will be checked for burns. General blood tests such as a complete blood count and a biochemistry profile will be completed along with a urinalysis. Approximately 40- 60% of the sodium borate will be excreted in the urine unchanged within about twelve to twenty-four hours. These tests will help rule out other toxins as well as assessing the continuing functionality of both the liver and the kidneys.

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Treatment of Borate Poisoning in Dogs

Your veterinarian may choose to induce vomiting or opt to perform a gastric lavage for your dog if the ingestion was within the last two to three hours. This is done to remove as much of the physical toxin as possible before it is absorbed into the bloodstream. Although activated charcoal is often given at this time for most toxins, sodium borate tends to bind poorly to it, so it is often omitted from treatment. The symptoms of borate poisoning can sometimes induce dehydration, so supportive measures such as IV fluids and electrolytes are often given to combat this problem.

Any borate that remains on your dog’s skin will be washed off to prevent further burning of the skin. Anticonvulsants may also be given to the patient as needed. Borate goes through the kidneys before being expelled in the urine and can cause damage, so the functionality of the kidneys needs to be carefully monitored. In some cases, dialysis may be required.

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Worried about the cost of Borate Poisoning treatment?

Pet Insurance covers the cost of many common pet health conditions. Prepare for the unexpected by getting a quote from top pet insurance providers.

Recovery of Borate Poisoning in Dogs

Because borate is processed through the kidneys, your dog’s doctor may choose to perform either dialysis or hemodialysis to protect the future performance of the kidneys. Dialysis, for humans, is generally a life-long treatment plan with dialysis occurring 2-3 times a week for the remainder of their lives. This usually only changes if the patient has a kidney transplant. Although dogs may also require dialysis as a lifelong treatment, it is more often used as a treatment for acute disorders, to temporarily ease the burdens to the kidneys and give them a chance to properly heal so that they can recover functionality. It is not widely available and is very costly.

Paying to treat borate poisoning out of pocket can be a major financial burden. Fortunately, most pet insurance companies reimburse claims within 3 days, putting 90% of the bill back in your pocket. In the market for pet insurance? Compare leading pet insurance companies to find the right plan for your pet.

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Borate Poisoning Average Cost

From 585 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,000

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Borate Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Labrador Husky

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4 months

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14 found helpful

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14 found helpful

Has Symptoms

None That I Have Noticed

I have been at work for 5 hours, came home after my shift to see that some of the borax box was torn, but I haven’t noticed any symptoms within the time that I have been with him. Is there something we can give him to make sure he doesn’t get any symptoms?

July 23, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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14 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If you think your puppy actually ate a lot of the borax, it would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian right away and probably started on IV fluids. In large quantities borax can be quite toxic to the kidneys as well as causing GI upset. If you think that only a little bit was eaten or the box was just chewed then you probably won't see any signs as it does take a fair amount to cause toxicity. You may notice GI upset, and if your puppy starts vomiting, diarrhea, becoming lethargic, or doesn't want to eat, then it would be best as well to have him seen by a veterinarian. I hope that everything goes okay. https://wagwalking.com/condition/borate-poisoning

July 23, 2020

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Beagle

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Ten Months

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10 found helpful

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10 found helpful

Has Symptoms

None

Puppies found a cotton ball in pantry that had a concoction of 1/2 c. Sugar, 1 1/2 tbsp Borax, & 1 1/2 c. Water to attract ants; she chewed on the cotton ball a bit, then proceeded to drink 1/2 c. Milk; exhibiting no negative symptoms. Thanks!

July 23, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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10 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I would think, with that diluted amount of borax, that she should be fine. It would be best to watch her for the next twenty-four hours, carefully, for any signs of vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, or loss of appetite. If she shows any of the signs, or is pawing at her mouth or drooling, then it would be best to have her seen by a veterinarian right away. I hope that all goes well for her.

July 23, 2020

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Borate Poisoning Average Cost

From 585 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,000

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