Canine Arsenic Poisoning Symptoms

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Arsenic is toxic to pets and people.
Arsenic is toxic to pets and people. (Image: Cartoon illustration of a bottle of poison, on a cedar panel. image by samantha grandy from Fotolia.com)

Arsenic is a heavy metal that is toxic to animals (ourselves included). It can often be found in many household substances, such as mouse traps, rat traps, insecticides and herbicides. All of these products should be kept out of the reach of both pets and children.

The first thing to do if you suspect your dog has been poisoned is to take it to the vet. The more time the poison has had to be absorbed, the more severe the symptoms will be.

Symptoms of Arsenic Poisoning

Acute exposure to arsenic can produce severe symptoms. The most common include: vomiting, diarrhea, intense abdominal pain, lethargy or depression, lack of coordination and staggering, red blood in the dog's feces, weakness and loss of consciousness. If your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, emergency treatment is necessary.

Causes

The most common cause of arsenic poisoning in dogs is the consumption of rat or mouse trap bait. The inert ingredients in the bait are often attractive to all animals. According to the ASPCA, almost 7,000 cases of bait-induced arsenic poisoning were reported in 2009.

Diagnosis

Poisoning from arsenic can be difficult to diagnose. Make sure that you give your vet a list of potentially harmful chemicals your dog could have ingested. Most often, though, the owner does not know the cause of the vomiting and diarrhea.

In either case, the veterinarian will do a complete workup—blood profile, blood count, urinalysis and perhaps a sample of the stomach contents.

Treatment

The key goal of treatment is to aid the body in getting rid of the toxin. Vomiting, whether induced or not, helps rid the system of the arsenic. Intravenous fluids will be administered to help speed along the removal of the poison and prevent dehydration.

Veterinarians might also administer a medication that binds the arsenic so that it will not be absorbed. However, this treatment often comes with serious side effects.

If you suspect your dog has been poisoned, take it to the vet immediately!

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