Iron is a chemical element that is commonly found in multiple sources around the house, garden, and yard. Sources of iron include fertilizers, multivitamins (particularly prenatal vitamins), dietary mineral supplements, some types of hand warmers, and oxygen absorbers (small sachets found in food items like beef jerky, rawhide bags, etc.). When ingested in poisonous amounts, iron can be very toxic. As iron comes in several sources, the amount of elemental iron versus “total” iron must be calculated out to see if it is a poisonous ingestion or not. When in doubt, have a medical professional at Pet Poison Helpline assist you with finding out if the amount ingested was toxic or not. Iron poisoning in dogs can range in severity of signs from vomiting, bloody diarrhea, lethargy, and abdominal pain to more severe signs of shock, tremors, and potential cardiac and liver effects.
The content of this page is not veterinary advice. A number of factors (amount of substance ingested, size of the animal, allergies, etc.) determine what is toxic to a particular pet. If you think your pet has eaten something potentially toxic, call Pet Poison Helpline or seek immediate veterinary treatment.
What Is Iron Poisoning?
Also referred to as iron toxicosis, iron poisoning is an illness that occurs when a dog has excess amounts of iron in its bloodstream.
Diagnosing Iron Poisoning in Dogs
If a patient has ingested a substance containing a high level of iron, your veterinarian will do a blood test to determine the serum iron (SI) level and total iron-binding capacity (TIBC) of your dogs blood. Iron poisoning can be confirmed if the blood SI level is greater than the TIBC.
Upon a diagnosis of iron poisoning, your vet will take a couple of key steps to clear the excess from your dog’s system. This may include IV fluids, oxygen therapy, the induction of vomiting, and/or stomach pumping with a saline solution.
Another likely treatment is chelation therapy, in which a drug agent is used to bind to the iron in the body and guide it through the kidneys where it can be removed through your dog’s urine.
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