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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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Manchester Terrier

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Five Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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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

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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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

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ratcha

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9months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Sammykaufman1@Gmail.Com

shaky,disorentated,disordisorientation, ill, anxious,acting skittish

Nov. 14, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello So sorry to hear that your dog isn't feeling good. From the signs that you are describing, it would be best to take her to your vet. They can examine her and asses exactly why she is acting this way.

Nov. 14, 2020

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Pit Bull

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One Year

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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

No Symptoms

She is about 60 pounds and consumed 3 prenatal vitamins. Each has 18 mg of iron in it

Oct. 1, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. The iron content in that vitamin may cause him GI upset, but I am worried about the other ingredients in the vitamins as well, and it would be very helpful to have the name of the vitamin so that we could look it up. It would be a good idea to either call a 24-hour veterinary emergency clinic and give them that information, or a pet poison control hotline, where they can look up the individual ingredients for you. I hope it all goes well for her.

Oct. 1, 2020

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Golden Retriever

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Five Months

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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None

Our puppy ate a 90 mg iron tablet 6 hrs ago. No symptoms

Sept. 29, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. That is not a toxic dose for an average sized golden retriever puppy, but it would be best to monitor for any signs of vomiting or diarrhea, and if those occur, then have your puppy seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. I hope that all goes well.

Oct. 2, 2020

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Country breed

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3months

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0 found helpful

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Poisoning

Dog ingested oxygen absorber packet...small in quantity..contents are brown in colour

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I hope that he is doing well - if you mean a dessicant package, those don't tend to be toxic, but I'm not sure what you mean by 'oxygen absorber packet'. If you are ever in this situation, it would be best to call a 24 hour Pet Poison Hotline, as they can get more information and let you know if you have a problem or not.

Oct. 7, 2020

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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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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

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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

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9 Weeks

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

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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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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0 found helpful

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

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

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