Prepare for unexpected vet bills

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.

Youtube Play

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

Plan ahead. Get the pawfect insurance plan for your pup.

Compare plans
advertisement image

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
arrow-up-icon

Top

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
arrow-up-icon

Top

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.

arrow-up-icon

Top

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.

arrow-up-icon

Top

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.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Iron Poisoning Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$650

arrow-up-icon

Top

Iron Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Dachshund

dog-age-icon

One Year

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

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

My dog was playing with an iron packed, she left two puncture holes in it. But no contents fell out as I can see. No symptoms, should I take her to the vet

Oct. 23, 2021

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

The tricky thing here is that we can't be sure of the exposure level, if there was any or not. Unfortunately your dog is a small breed and iron can be highly toxic. To.play it safe, I'd contact your local emergency clinic. However, if you're confident nothing was ingested and your dog is well, I would monitor from home.

Oct. 24, 2021

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Manchester Terrier

dog-age-icon

Five Years

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

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

My dogs got into my prenatal vitamins with 27mg of iron. I am only missing 1 pill and I think the Manchester terrier might have gotten it. His stool was much softer than usual and he seems to be babying his front left foot (he is avoiding standing on it and licking his paw) . He has a pretty good appetite. I also have a 5 year old female husky/German shepherd and she may have gotten it but she isn't showing any symptoms. It's been about 4 and a half hours since they got into it, maybe longer since it happened before I got home.

Jan. 11, 2021

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question, I'm sorry that your dog is having problems. Unfortunately, without knowing more about who may have eaten the medication or what was in it, it is hard to say if you have anything to worry about. The best thing to do maybe to call your nearest 24-hour or Emergency Veterinary Clinic, let them know the ingredients of the medication, and the weights of your dog or dogs, and see if there are any ingredients that may have been worrisome. It is hard to say without seeing your dogs if the lameness is related. I hope that all goes well with both of your dogs.

Jan. 11, 2021

Was this experience helpful?

Iron Poisoning Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$650

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

Plan ahead. Get the pawfect insurance plan for your pup.

Compare plans
advertisement image
Ask a vet
Need pet insurance?

Learn more in the Wag! app

Five starsFive starsFive starsFive starsFive stars

43k+ reviews

Install