If your dog ate a tube of zinc oxide, you are rightfully concerned, zinc oxide can be harmful to dogs when ingested and its important to report to your vet any significant ingestion as soon as possible. Zinc oxide is found in many topical products nowadays and more and more dogs are reported to get ill from them. These products are either applied to human skin and licked off or dogs ingest them directly from chewing on a tube of zinc oxide left inadvertently in Rovers reach. Fortunately, when caught early, zinc oxide poisoning in dogs can be treated with success, but time is of the essence if your dog ate a tube of zinc oxide.
Zinc oxide is present in several topical products that are available by prescription or over the counter.
Nowadays, products containing zinc oxide include diaper rash creams (Desitin, Balmex, Boudreaux Butt Paste), sun blocks and a variety of creams, lotions and ointments applied topically to the skin to treat scars, burns and other forms of skin damage.
Zinc oxide is also found in a variety of anti dandruff shampoos, hemorrhoid ointments, calamine products and dental cements.
Zinc oxide is produced from a trace mineral known as zincite which, when mixed with oxygen, results in zinc oxide. The product obtained is not water soluble, making it appealing for being used in creams and products for skin care.
The inquisitive nature of dogs makes them prone to lick products off the skin of their owners or if a tube or bottle of a product is left in reach, most dogs will enjoy chewing on it leading to ingestion of the product. This leads to many cases of zinc oxide poisoning in dogs when significant amounts are ingested. But how much is too much?
What is Desitin?
Desitin is a product used for babies. It works by treating and preventing diaper rash and skin irritations. The ointment works by creating a barrier on the skin, which protects against irritation and moisture. What’s more, this product is sometimes used to treat poison oak, ivy, and sumac rashes.
Desitin carries the warning that it should only be used on the skin, not ingested. The product contains 40% maximum-level zinc oxide. It also contains petrolatum, cod liver oil, lanolin, talc, glycerin, sorbitan sesquioleate, beeswax, tocopheryl acetate, and fragrance.
While Desitin is a safe product for babies, when used correctly, what about dogs?
Is Desitin Harmful To Dogs?
Desitin (or any other diaper rash cream) is a very dangerous substance for dogs to ingest.
The active ingredient in Desitin is Zinc Oxide, a substance that has been known to cause serious issues with the bowels of both humans and animals.
Ingestion of large amounts may damage the intestinal lining or even lead to complete blockage.
My Dog Ate a Tube of Zinc Oxide
Whether the zinc oxide your dog ingested is toxic or not will depend on several factors such as the amount ingested, the concentration, the size of the dog and clinical signs developed.
Obviously, the more the dog ingests the more likely the chances for serious problems. Concentrations of zinc oxide vary by products . For instance, the average diaper cream may contain anywhere between 10 percent and 40 percent zinc oxide, while sunscreen may contain anywhere between 1 and 25 percent.
Generally, licking just a bit of sunscreen off of a childs face (like less than a spoonful) is less concerning than a dog eating a whole tube of diaper cream, points out veterinarian Dr. B. Also, if the puppy or dog managed to ingest the tube along with the zinc oxide then another sign to watch for are signs of a bowel obstruction.
Size also matters, it takes less product to create problems in a small dog weighing just a few pounds, versus a large dog weighing many pounds. Whats the toxic dose of zinc oxide in dogs? According to veterinarian Dr. Matt, the toxic dose of zinc oxide in dogs is 45 mg per pound.
Signs of Trouble
Zinc oxide products are known for being very irritating to the dogs digestive tract. As a result, dogs who ingest it, end up having repeated bouts of white, frothy vomiting shortly after ingestion ( generally within four hours). This vomiting is actually a good thing as it helps the dogs body get rid of the substance and therefore self-decontaminates, which lowers the rate of absorption. Some dogs also develop diarrhea, on top of vomiting.
While just a single lick of zinc-containing product may just lead to digestive upset, more concerning is repeated exposure to zinc products (like a dog licking it every day) which can lead to systemic zinc toxicosis affecting the whole body and leading to hemolytic anemia and organ failure.
We can see an example of this from the Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine. A dog developed a rectal mass and after surgery, the owner repeatedly applied a zinc oxide cream to the area in hopes of letting the dog heal faster. The dog was readily licking it off and, by the fourth day, the dog became ill. It was estimated that the dog must have ingested about a 3/4 of pound dose of the 40 percent zinc oxide cream. The dog fortunately recovered after supportive care.
If youre wondering how long a dog can live with a bowel obstruction, most likely you are very worried about your canine companion. Veterinarian Dr. Ivana Crnec information about bowel obstructions in dogs.
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See your vet if your dog ate a tube of zinc oxide
Is Desitin harmful to dogs?
What do I do if my dog ate diaper rash cream?
What happens if a dog eats zinc oxide?
Is Desitin harmful if ingested?