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Zinc Poisoning in Dogs

Zinc Toxicity in Dogs

Zinc is a crucial mineral essential for a healthy body, but excessive intake can lead to toxicity, commonly known as zinc toxicity. This condition occurs when animals consume large quantities of zinc-containing materials. While it is more frequently observed in small breed dogs, dogs of all sizes can be affected by zinc toxicity.

Symptoms and Types

Symptoms of zinc toxicity in dogs include:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Elevated levels of hemoglobin in the blood
  • Elevated levels of hemoglobin in the urine
  • Jaundice
  • Orange-colored feces


Zinc toxicity in dogs is typically caused by the ingestion of zinc-containing materials, including:

  • Nuts
  • Bolts
  • Staples
  • Nails
  • Board game pieces
  • Zippers
  • Certain toys
  • Jewelry
  • Pennies
  • Specific lozenge brands
  • Some lotions


Your veterinarian will gather a thorough history of your dog, including any instances of ingesting unusual materials that might have triggered the symptoms. A complete physical examination of the animal will also be conducted. Standard laboratory tests will encompass a biochemistry profile, electrolytes assessment, urinalysis, and a complete blood count.

The complete blood count may reveal anemia resulting from zinc-induced destruction of Red Blood Cells (RBCs), potentially forming Heinz bodies or granules within the red blood cells. It may also detect variations in red blood cell coloration, known as polychromasia.

The biochemistry profile may indicate elevated levels of hemoglobin and bilirubin in the blood. Abnormalities in the profile, such as high blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, liver enzymes, and pancreatic enzymes, may suggest multiple organ failure, a concerning development.

During blood examination, the veterinarian may observe abnormal red blood cells with a distinctive dark ring surrounding a dark center, referred to as target cells, which are associated with anemia.

Given the rapid destruction of red blood cells, the veterinarian will perform a packed cell volume (PCV) test to determine the quantity of viable red blood cells, crucial for assessing the need for a blood transfusion.

To confirm the diagnosis, specific laboratory tests will be ordered to measure zinc levels in your dog’s blood. These tests can also evaluate your dog’s blood clotting mechanism, serving as an indicator of zinc toxicity. Additionally, X-rays may be utilized to confirm whether your dog has ingested zinc-containing materials.


To prevent additional harm, removing the object is crucial. Intravenous fluid therapy is initiated to maintain bodily fluid levels and encourage urination. Medications to decrease stomach acidity and facilitate the release of zinc will also be administered. In cases of severe destruction of red blood cells, blood transfusions may be necessary.

Living and Management

Timely treatment is essential for saving the life of a dog with zinc toxicity. Follow-up appointments will be necessary to monitor the patient’s health and assess the effectiveness of the treatment through laboratory tests.

Typically, zinc levels in the blood decrease rapidly once the source is eliminated. However, dogs facing severe complications such as multiple organ failure have a low chance of survival.

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