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What is Iron Poisoning?

There are four stages of iron toxicosis, which your dog goes through in the first few hours until six weeks later. The first stage occurs in the first 6 hours, in which your dog goes through gastrointestinal problems, such as vomiting and diarrhea. The second stage occurs between 6 and 24 hours when your dog seems to be completely better. Between 12 and 96 hours, stage 3 occurs. This is when the worst of the clinical symptoms occur, such as muscle tremors, bloody diarrhea, rapid heart rate, jaundice, hypotension, seizures, organ damage, shock, and possibly death if it is not treated right away. Up to six weeks later, your dog can develop intestinal strictures and blockages. Even if your dog only shows mild gastrointestinal symptoms (diarrhea or vomiting), your dog can develop these strictures, so even if your dog shows no signs of distress, it is important to see the veterinarian if you suspect he has ingested a toxic amount of iron.

Although iron is the most common trace mineral in your dog’s body, it is incredibly toxic to the tissues when there is too much in the blood. Iron poisoning is a common occurrence in dogs, and can be fatal if not treated right away. Iron toxicity is not always caused by medication but is also in heating pads, pesticides, fertilizer, and even oxygen absorbers that are found in dried or dehydrated foods. The level of toxicity from iron depends on how much is already in your dog’s blood at the time and how much is ingested. The iron is corrosive to the stomach and intestinal lining, causing bleeding and possibly abdominal perforation.

Iron Poisoning Average Cost

From 79 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$650

Symptoms of Iron Poisoning in Dogs

The iron attacks the liver, nervous system, heart, gastrointestinal and metabolic system because animals are not able to rid the body of excess iron. Your dog’s symptoms vary according to the amount of iron they ingested and how long it has been since ingestion. There are four stages in which the symptoms change:

Stage One (first 6 hours)

  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Pain and swelling in the abdomen
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Agitation
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Shock
  • Seizure

 Stage Two (6 to24 hours)

  • Symptoms disappear

 Stage Three (12 to 36 hours)

  • Depression
  • Fever
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Muscle tremors
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Appetite and weight loss
  • Seizures
  • Abdominal pain
  • Organ damage
  • Collapse
  • Death

 Stage Four (4 to 6 weeks)

  • Intestinal blockages from strictures
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Liver damage
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Causes of Iron Poisoning in Dogs

There are many ways that your dog can get iron toxicity, but the most common are from multivitamins with iron because they are usually coated with a sugary substance that dogs like. Some of the other common causes are:

  • Prenatal vitamins
  • Fertilizer
  • Oxygen absorbers (little packets inside dried foods and some medications)
  • Hand warmers
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Diagnosis of Iron Poisoning in Dogs

The veterinarian will need to know what kind of iron your dog ingested and how much. Give him as much information about your dog as possible, including medical history, vaccination records, previous injuries or illnesses, and changes in behavior or appetite. Your veterinarian will do a complete physical examination, which includes height, weight, body temperature, reflexes, heart rate, and blood pressure. The veterinarian will also do some tests, such as complete blood count (CBC), activated clotting time (ACT), fecal flotation, biochemical blood analysis, and urinalysis. He may also do a radiograph (x-rays), CT scan, and ultrasound.

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Treatment of Iron Poisoning in Dogs

The veterinarian will give your dog IV fluids, oxygen therapy, and try to induce vomiting. They may also do a gastric lavage, which is done by pumping saline solution into your dog’s stomach to wash away the iron that has not been absorbed yet. Chelation therapy will also be done with a drug that sticks to the iron and helps it pass through the kidneys with the urine. The veterinarian will probably want to keep your dog for 24 hours for observation to monitor your dog’s kidney and liver function.

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Recovery of Iron Poisoning in Dogs

If your dog does not have any symptoms, and you get treatment right away, the prognosis is good. If signs of toxicity are apparent, and you get treatment within the first 12 hours, your dog’s prognosis is guarded, but it is essential to watch for any further symptoms. As a matter of fact, you have to monitor your dog’s health carefully for the next few months because intestinal stricture and blockages are possible even if your dog did not have any symptoms at all. To prevent this from happening again, you should keep all medications and other materials that can be toxic out of the reach of your dog. This includes certain foods, plants, flowers, cleaning products, and many other items.

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Iron Poisoning Average Cost

From 79 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$650

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Iron Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Doberman Pinscher

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9 months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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None

My 53# puppy chewed on thermacare heatwrap. She punctured one cell that contain -2 grams of iron. It doesn't appear to have much gone, some was on the floor.

Aug. 1, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

So sorry to hear about your dog. Many times your dog will be just fine. If she starts to vomit or has diarrhea, it would be best to see your vet. You can also contact the pet poison control for detailed information on the exact signs that you may see. Their number is (888) 426-4435

Aug. 1, 2020

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Pug

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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None

My 18 pound female pug got a hold of a small iron satchet from a package of Jack Links beef jerky. She chewed on the package for >5 minutes, but perforated it in two places. The black substance was exposed through the perforations, but it seemed that most of it was still in the package. This happened about 15 minutes ago. No symptoms as of yet.. Should we call/go to the vet?

July 30, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, If she did not ingest any or much she may be just fine. If you notice any signs showing that your dog is not acting right it may be best to see your vet. The pet poison hotline can tell you the exact side effect that this would cause. Their number is 888- 426-4435

July 30, 2020

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Australian Shepherd

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4 months

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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

Vomiting, Fatigue

My dog tore into a freshus oxygen absorber. He was fine for a while then he started dry heaving and then vomiting. He’s been a bit sluggish and hasn’t been as hyper. This all happened roughly 8 hours ago.

July 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello I recommend that you take your pet to a veterinarian right away. What he got into can be toxic as he is already showing symptoms. He should be seen by a vet as soon as possible.

July 24, 2020

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Lucy

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Terrier mix

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8 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

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None As Of Right Now

My terrier mix Lucy is 8yrs old and we had found one of the oxygen packet from jerky around her and was slightly opened. I did open the packet up to see how much was ingested there seems like alot was still in the packet but it was opened from Lucy chewing on it. Would the symptoms of vomiting start immediately? It has been 2hrs and she is running around and she has drank quite a bit of water. She hasn't vomited or anything how long should I keep a close eye on her? Or should I take her to get in the morning?

Aug. 9, 2018

Lucy's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

With these oxygen absorber packets it depends on the amount of elemental iron that was consumed; the Pet Poison Helplines thinking on this is that if a dog doesn’t vomit, then a toxic dose may not have been consumed. However you should keep an eye on Lucy for the next few days and visit your Veterinarian (or call the Pet Poison Helpline) if you have any concerns. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.petpoisonhelpline.com/pet-safety-tips/packaging-freshness-packets-really-toxic-dogs/

Aug. 9, 2018

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Lacy

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Labrador Retriever

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8 Years

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

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Fair severity

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None

We have moved into a new house about 3 weeks ago and since then have learned (through water testing)that there is iron in our otherwise safe tap water from our well. This has been our dog's main source of drinking water since we moved in. She is acting as well as usual (actually better than usual because she now has some acres to play in). My question is: should we change her water to human grade drinking water or wait until/if she shows signs that something is wrong?

Aug. 2, 2018

Lacy's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Even though Lacy may not be displaying any signs of toxicity at this point, iron in the water isn't good for anyone long term, and changing her water source would be a good idea.

Aug. 2, 2018

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Pippin

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Husky mix

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2 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Vomited

Our 35 lbs husky gnawed on a half packet of oxygen absorber. We immediately freaked and watched him and did research, but saw no vomiting after 8 hours. Then about 24 hours he ate a lot of grass and promptly vomited. It seemed odd and we were worried but he showed no other symptoms. About 48 hours after playing hard at Puppy Daycare he vomited yellow bile again, but we saw no other symptoms. He does have a sensitive stomach so we’re wondering if we’re panicking over nothing! Any advice?

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Kane

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Pit bull

dog-age-icon

9 Weeks

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Fair severity

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None

My 9 week old puppy got ahold of a packet from a beef jerky bag. He just punctured it a few times before we grabbed it, but there is a bit of powder coming out. I checked and the powder is magnetic so it's safe to say its iron. Do we need to go to the vet immediately or just watch for symptoms?

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Jackson

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Boston Terrier

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5 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

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Normal

My 5 year old 25 lb Boston Terrier ingested a 65mg iron supplement. He is on 2 antibiotics (Baytril 136mg 1X per day, and AmoxiClav 1 and a half pills 125mg each) for an infection which started with an abscess. He seems fine should I try to have him vomit or give milk of magnesia?

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Archie

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Australian Shepherd

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8 Months

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Vomiting

My 8 month old, 40 pound Aussie ate an entire bag of his blue bits treats that contained an oxygen absorber. He was fine for two days and then last night threw up and today had diarrhea. Last night he ate two of my eggs from my plate when I turned around and not sure if that was the cause of vomiting, as he didn’t even chew the eggs. I’m not sure if I should be worried about iron poisoning or not and what to do.

Iron Poisoning Average Cost

From 79 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$650