Dog Iron Toxicity
Veterinarian Reviewed on March 29, 2014 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
Dog Iron Toxicity
Iron is a necessary element in the formation of red blood cells. Many of the vitamins and supplements available for your dog contain some amount of iron. However, as with most things, although some iron is needed too much can cause serious health problems for your dog.
Any ingredient in the supplement that includes the word “ferrous” has some amount of iron. Ferrous simply means that it does contain iron. There are four types of iron that can cause this toxicity in your dog, namely:
- Ferrous fumarate
- Ferrous phosphate
- Ferrous sulfate
- Ferrous carbonate
Any of these forms can cause serious damage to your dog’s intestines and stomach. It can also be the causative factor in Dog Heart Disease and Dog Kidney Disease. The accumulation of iron will increase if they cannot rid their bodies of the iron that is present.
Sign and Symptoms
1. Dog Lethargy in a normally active dog
2. Dog Vomiting
3. Sudden onset of bloody Dog Diarrhea
The initial signs will occur shortly after your dog eats a toxic amount of iron, which is usually within six hours. While it may seem that your dog has recovered over the course of a day, chances are better than average that they have not. The symptoms can return along with Dog Liver Disease, coma and shock resulting from Dog Stress And Anxiety. Your dog can also develop some bleeding disorders.
Diagnosing the problem
Although you may notice these symptoms at home, your safest action will be to take your dog to the veterinarian. There tests can be performed to check the blood levels of the iron. The veterinarian can also take x-rays to investigate the possibility of iron in the intestines. Along with iron level blood testing, your vet will also check for liver and kidney damage.
What your veterinarian will do to treat iron toxicity
1. If your dog consumed the iron just prior to your visit to the vet, the first step will be pumping out the stomach or by inducing vomiting. This will help to remove the iron from the digestive tract.
2. Intravenous fluids will be initiated.
3. A medication called deferoxamine can change some of the iron into a less toxic material that will not damage the dog.
4. Blood levels should be monitored for several days. It often takes that long for the levels to go below the toxic level.
Prevention is the best protector of iron toxicity. Dogs should not be given iron supplements unless they are prescribed by a veterinarian. Keep those “dog friendly”, tasty supplements out of the reach of your dog. Keeping all medications stored out of reach of dogs, pets and children can prevent many tragedies.
If your dog has been diagnosed with iron toxicity and treated, they may still not be totally “cured”. It is possible that their liver or digestive systems will require you to administer medications for the rest of their lives. Their diet may also have to be changed to one that is more appropriate for their conditions.
Human supplements and vitamins can be fatal to your dog. Keep all medications out of reach of your dog and your children.
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan