What is Zinc Oxide Topical Poisoning ?
Zinc is a mineral that is required within all animals in humans. Zinc oxide is found in many dog foods as well. Zinc oxide poisoning occurs when a dog ingests a high amount of this compound. This compound is found in many items around the home, such as diaper rash ointments, dental cements, bandages that are medicated, and it is also combined with other substances in various medications, such as vitamin A and E.
Zinc oxide is also used as an astringent, as it has bacteria-fighting properties. The specific mineral of zinc can be found in a variety of coins, such as pennies after 1982, and metal objects, including bolts, nuts, zippers, and other objects that have a high level of zinc. Of course, zinc is an ingredient in popular skin creams as well. Zinc oxide toxicity is dependent upon the amount of zinc ingested and the overall size of the dog. It also depends on the actual substance that was consumed; zinc oxide cream is combined with other ingredients and, fortunately, is not a form of pure zinc, unlike metal items.
Zinc oxide topical poisoning in dogs is a result of dogs ingesting zinc oxide ointments, commonly used in sunscreens, diaper rash ointments, and other ointments for topical medications.
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Symptoms of Zinc Oxide Topical Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog has ingested zinc oxide cream or zinc in the pure form, he will begin to develop symptoms rapidly. The most common symptom is vomiting. Other symptoms that may occur are:
- Rapid breathing
- Discolored or highly concentrated urine
- Jaundiced in the gums
- Loss of appetite
Many ointments that contain zinc oxide are combined with other ingredients. Although they are combined with other ingredients, it is important to know the percentage of the compound to the other components in the ointment. These other ingredients may cause a laxative effect. Types of ingredients that are commonly used with zinc oxide include:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Cod liver oil
- Mineral oil
- Butylated hydroxyanisole
Causes of Zinc Oxide Topical Poisoning in Dogs
The precise cause of zinc oxide poisoning due to the ingestion of this compound is still being researched. Possible causes of zinc oxide poisoning in dogs may include:
- Negatively affects the pancreas, liver, and kidneys
- Negatively affects the red blood cells
- Promotes oxidative damage
- Inhibits red blood cell enzymes
Diagnosis of Zinc Oxide Topical Poisoning in Dogs
Zinc oxide toxicities can be quite difficult to diagnose, this is why it is highly helpful for the veterinarian if you suspect or have witnessed your dog ingesting a cream containing zinc oxide or a penny or other metal object that contains a high amount of zinc. If your dog has self-vomited, or if the veterinarian induced vomiting, there will be evidence of the ointment in the substance.
Your veterinarian will depend on the dog’s clinical signs and any information you can give him in terms of the ingestion of this compound or mineral. In addition to observing the clinical signs of toxicity, the veterinarian will do a complete physical examination, which includes blood testing to check for anemia and the zinc level in the blood. Any liver or kidney damage can also be tested with bloodwork and a biochemistry profile.
A urinalysis will communicate to the veterinarian any red blood cell pigmentation, which may be a sign for higher levels of zinc. The urinalysis will also allow the veterinarian to check for any kidney or liver damage. If you highly suspect or are sure that your dog ingested an object, the veterinarian may do an x-ray to determine if the dog has swallowed a metal object or pieces of the tube that contained the cream.
Treatment of Zinc Oxide Topical Poisoning in Dogs
The veterinarian may advise you, the owner, to induce vomiting before the dog is brought in for treatment. The veterinarian will explain to you the process of doing so. After emesis, activated charcoal is not usually given with zinc, as it does not bind to metals and is not effective. Once your dog has been diagnosed, treatment may include:
Intravenous fluids will be given to the dog to support the kidney function and to keep the animal hydrated. This method will also restore the electrolytes, and help with the extraction of urine through the kidneys.
If your dog is suffering from anemia due to the toxic zinc, the veterinarian may choose to administer a blood transfusion. This procedure will strengthen the blood by restoring the iron, hemoglobin, and red blood cells.
If the dog has ingested a zinc-containing item, or if parts of the tube from the cream are within the dog, the veterinarian will perform an endoscopy to remove the object
In order to protect the gastrointestinal tract, medications may be given to stabilize the area. Medications to stop vomiting may also be given if your dog is continuing to vomit. Medications may also be given to treat any occurring seizures and to stabilize the heart rate.
Recovery of Zinc Oxide Topical Poisoning in Dogs
If the dog received immediate treatment, the ingestion of zinc oxide is typically not fatal. If your dog has responded to treatment and you are able to take him home, the veterinarian will give you specific instructions on how to care for him. The veterinarian may prescribe a diet, depending on the treatment plan.
The veterinarian will also want to have follow-up visits to ensure that he is recovering properly. In addition to these visits, the veterinarian will communicate with you as to what to watch for in terms of symptoms that may develop. Careful monitoring of your dog is very important after treatment, and if you have any questions or concerns do not hesitate to contact your physician.
Zinc Oxide Topical Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
Dog had some zinc put on him, 21 lb dog, had less then 1oz on him for 3 hrs, saw he was lethargic, so googled and saw its harmful, so washoff with warm soapie water. Not sure if he licked it but shortly thereafter he got lethargic. He us not throwing up he pooped peed i toom him for walk, gums pinks. He was lethargic but after i removed it. He wanted to walk. Now tired wants 2 go to bed. Understandabke. 2am now
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My question is; before knowing better for about 4 days I had been putting less than a dime size amount of paba free, fragrance free sunscreen, but it did have 10% Zinc Oxide in it. I applied it to my 5 month old puppy. He does not have any symptoms, but does have a tiny bit of discoloration there, but I'm not sure if it is from the sun or from the sunscreen. Can that small amount be harmful? I chose skin crust, but that isn't really what the symptom is, just a little brownish/pink color.
Zinc oxide poisoning occurs when dogs lick off a cream or other topical product containing zinc that was either applied to them or they lick it off their human friend. Topically, small amounts wouldn’t cause many problems unless it is licked off; symptoms typically are weakness, pale gums (anaemia), gastrointestinal upset, increase breathing rate, jaundice, loss of appetite and other symptoms. The discolouration may be caused by sunlight, but wash off any remaining sunscreen and purchase dog friendly sunscreen from your local pet shop. If you have further concerns, visit your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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My puppy chewed on a tube of maximum strength Desitin diaper cream (40% zinc). She didn’t get it completely opened, but poked several small holes and licked some through those. She has vomited twice and has some mild swelling around one eye and one side of her lip. She doesn’t seem lethargic at all, swelling doesn’t seem to be getting any worse over time. Should I be concerned? Is there any home treatment?
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My 8 month old mini schnauzer chewed up a tube of Equate zinc oxcide. Im not sure how mych ahe ate as i was not home when my daughter took the tube away from her, my 5 yr old boxer helpec her eat it. My mini schnauzer threw up twice several hours after ingesting it, the boxer threw up as well. How long will they continue to show signs of poisoning and should intake them to the vet in the morning?
My 12yo Alaskan Malamute ate a tube if zinc oxide. Appears to have thrown up most of it, has drank a ton of water and thrown it back up twice now. Not interested in any food, called my vet and the tech said vomiting was a good sign & to just keep an eye on her. How long before anemia /liver damage signs begin to present? Is there anything else I should do???... Waiting to introduce foid, figured I'd give her white rice and bland chicken when I do... Will fiber powder help bind anything left in her system?
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