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.
Ingestion of supplements containing calcium alone are safer than ingestion of supplements containing vitamin D3 or other individual vitamin D3-type products, including prescription medications(e.g., cholecalciferol, calcipotriene, calcitriol), which can be deadly. Prescription strength vitamin D3 containing products have a narrow margin of safety due the amount of vitamin D3 being much higher than in over the counter products.
If your pet has ingested any calcium or vitamin D3 containing product, be sure to call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline right away to determine if the amount is ingested will be a concern.
Signs of poisoning due to calcium include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, lethargy (decreased activity) and a lack of appetite (inappetence). If the supplement also contains Vitamin D3 leading to high blood calcium concentrations, there is potential for excessive thirst or urination, weakness, mineralization of various tissues, including the kidneys, and acute kidney failure to develop depending on the dose ingested.
Calcium supplements usually come in tablet or flavored soft-chew formulations and are readily found in many households. When dogs ingest these supplements in large amounts, vomiting and diarrhea or constipation are common, with potential for transiently elevated calcium blood levels. In healthy animals with normal kidney function, the temporary rise in blood calcium concentrations is quickly corrected by the body’s ability to maintain homeostasis (steady equilibrium). Cats generally do not ingest enough of these supplements to result in poisoning due to their discriminating palate. Calcium supplements may also contain vitamin D3 which can contribute to poisoning and be a concern of its own for poisoning. While calcium alone is generally poorly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract, vitamin D3 significantly increases its absorption and the risk of toxicity. Still, in healthy animals, the risk for calcium from poisoning from calcium supplements alone is low.
Treatment of Calcium Supplements Poisoning in Dogs
The treatment steps will be contingent on the severity of the toxicosis. What type of supplements were eaten, how much extra vitamin D3 and K are contained in the tablets, chews, or powder, and the severity of the signs will all be determining factors in the steps the veterinary team will take to treat your canine companion. If the signs of toxicity are relatively mild, blood tests are within normal ranges, and your dog appears stable, he may be sent home with instructions for you to monitor him for changes in behavior or health condition.
In more severe cases of poisoning, such as in the case of hypercalcemia or kidney trouble, the veterinarian may need to commence more intensive treatment. The veterinary team may induce vomiting (which could bring up chew wrappers) or perform gastric lavage to flush out the stomach. Fluid therapy via intravenous could be needed; this may also include medications to promote a bowel movement, increase urine production, ease nausea, and stabilize blood calcium levels. Blood markers, electrolyte levels, and kidney and liver function will be monitored because all must be normal before your pet can be released from the hospital.
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How is vitamin D poisoning diagnosed?
Most cases of vitamin D poisoning are diagnosed in pets that have the expected signs and a known or suspected exposure to Vitamin D-containing supplements, rat/mouse poisons, or psoriasis treatments. Blood work showing elevated levels of calcium, phosphorous, or markers of kidney damage increase the suspicion for vitamin D poisoning. A urine sample may be performed to help assess kidney function. In some cases, specialized testing to rule out other causes of elevated calcium may be necessary.
Can a calcium pill hurt a dog?
Can a dog overdose on calcium tablets?
How much calcium is poisonous?
Hypercalcemia occurs when serum calcium levels are 10.5 mg/dL (also expressed as 2.63 mmol/L) or greater depending on normative laboratory values.
What happens if a dog gets too much calcium?