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Hypercalcemic Agent Poisoning in Dogs

Hypercalcemia is characterized by unusually high levels of calcium in the bloodstream, posing a danger to dogs. Among the hazardous substances for canines, some are classified as hypercalcemic agents. These agents contain vitamin D, also known as cholecalciferol, which functions by elevating calcium levels in the blood to toxic levels, ultimately leading to cardiac arrhythmias and potentially death. Hypercalcemic agents are commonly found in rodenticides, as rodents lack resistance to cholecalciferol. Typically, for a dog to become ill, it must directly ingest a poison containing cholecalciferol, unless it consumes a rodent that has been poisoned.

Dogs that have ingested hypercalcemic poisons often do not display immediate symptoms. Signs of poisoning may manifest 18 to 36 hours after the ingestion of the cholecalciferol-containing poison. Without treatment, a dog can succumb to cholecalciferol poisoning and resultant hypercalcemia. Surviving dogs may experience elevated calcium levels for weeks following poisoning, which can lead to secondary health issues such as renal failure.


Symptoms of hypercalcemia poisoning in dogs include fatigue, vomiting, increased thirst, frequent urination, generalized weakness, seizures, muscle spasms, and elevated blood serum calcium levels.


The primary cause of hypercalcemic poisoning in dogs is the ingestion of rodent poison. If you suspect that your dog has been exposed to rat or mouse poison and is exhibiting any of the symptoms mentioned above, it’s essential to promptly seek veterinary attention before your pet’s condition worsens.

It’s important to note that outdoor dogs, or those who frequently venture outside, are particularly vulnerable to rodent poisoning. Poison may be present in a neighbor’s yard, within a trash receptacle, or in an alleyway. Dogs that engage in chasing and catching rodents are also at risk of this type of poisoning. Even in areas where rats or mice aren’t prevalent, rodent poison might be utilized for dealing with other common suburban pests such as raccoons, opossums, or squirrels.


During the diagnosis process, your veterinarian will conduct a comprehensive physical examination of your dog, considering your pet’s medical history, onset of symptoms, and any potential incidents that could have led to the condition. A thorough blood profile, including a chemical blood profile and complete blood count, will be performed. Additionally, your veterinarian will assess your dog’s calcium levels and check for the presence of poison through a blood test. If feasible, it’s advisable to bring a sample of your pet’s vomit to the veterinarian for examination regarding poison content. If you have access to the poison ingested by your pet, it should also be provided to the veterinarian for further analysis.


Treatment for hypercalcemic poisoning involves addressing dehydration, a common side effect that can lead to organ failure and seizures. Ensuring your dog receives an ample supply of water is crucial, along with measures to promote water retention. Increased salt intake can aid in maintaining body fluid levels and promoting kidney excretion. Adding a small amount of salt to your pet’s water can help encourage fluid retention. Your veterinarian will focus on restoring your dog’s body fluids, correcting electrolyte imbalances, and reducing calcium levels using diuretics, prednisone, oral phosphorus binders, and implementing a low-calcium diet.

Living and Management

Living and managing dogs that have survived hypercalcemic agent poisoning involves being aware of potential long-term side effects resulting from elevated calcium levels in the blood and organs. Kidney damage is a common consequence of hypercalcemia and requires ongoing monitoring and management.


To prevent hypercalcemic agent poisoning in dogs, it’s crucial to keep rodent poisons out of reach and inaccessible to your pet. Additionally, closely supervising your dog can prevent it from coming into contact with rodents that may have ingested poison containing hypercalcemic agents.

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