Is zinc oxide poisonous to dogs? Tips and Tricks

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Zinc oxide ingestion is a common exposure, especially in dogs, with the most common sources being diaper creams, skin protectant creams and sunscreens.

Zinc oxide ointment can cause clinical signs quickly, but it is typically something that can be managed at home. Ointments typically contain 10-40% zinc oxide, and if ingested typically cause GI irritation and vomiting.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center reports that rarely a hypersensitivity reaction (erythma, urticaria, facial edema) to the zinc can be seen secondary to ingestion of the zinc oxide.

These ointments typically contain emollients that can cause a laxative effect as well, resulting in a greasy, oily diarrhea. It is uncommon, though possible, to see zinc toxicosis in large ingestions, though emesis is often very productive at removing this from the GI tract, and the zinc is often not well absorbed in the ointment form.

Any pets who ingest zinc oxide ointment should be monitored for GI upset. Fluids may be required if pets have GI upset that is significant enough to cause dehydration. Hypersensitivity reactions may require treatment with antihistamines and corticosteroids.

How much zinc is poisonous to pets?

The amount of zinc required to cause poisoning depends upon the pet’s size, the form of zinc ingested, and how much was ingested. Some forms of zinc are more readily absorbed than others.

A one-time ingestion of zinc oxide cream typically only causes stomach upset. However, repeated ingestion of these ointments over days to weeks can cause poisoning in highly concentrated products.

Ingestion of pennies and other metallic objects is more likely to cause poisoning. This is especially true in smaller pets where it may be more difficult for the object to move out of the stomach. Ingesting as little as 1-2 pennies can result in zinc poisoning.

Simply chewing on galvanized metal wire cages or metal toys has caused zinc poisoning in birds.

A veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline, a 24/7 animal poison control center, at 1-800-213-6680 should be consulted to assess the risk of poisoning if ingestion of any zinc containing product is witnessed or suspected.

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Zinc Oxide Topical Poisoning in Dogs | Wag!

An overview of the diagnosis and treatment of zinc oxide toxicosis due to ingestion of diaper rash cream.

A 6-month-old 42-lb (19.1-kg) Labrador retriever chewed on a tube of diaper rash ointment containing 10% zinc oxide. The dog punctured the tube and ingested about 3 oz of the ointment but did not ingest any of the plastic tube. The estimated dose of zinc oxide ingested by this dog was 448.8 mg/kg.

The owner called the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) about 15 minutes after the exposure. At that time, the dog, which was in good health, was not exhibiting clinical signs.