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Arsenic Poisoning

Arsenic Poisoning in dogs has become more common when Arsenic was used as an active ingredient in ant and roach bait. However, the authorities have ordered the reduction of arsenic in ant and roach bait thus resulting in reduced cases of Arsenic poisoning.

For most dogs, the lethal dose is 1-12 mg of Arsenic per pound of body weight. Aside from rat and ant bait, another potential source of the poisonous substance is in medications. There are arsenic compounds which are being used to treat heartworm infections in dogs however this is not similar to the heartworm preventatives that your vet has prescribed. The small amount of arsenic in the medication is designed to target the heartworms and ensure that the dog is not affected. Arsenic poisoning can occur when there is an overdose of the heartworm treatment.

Arsenic is highly toxic to the liver, kidneys, and the digestive tract. Once an animal ingests this toxic substance, the initial sign is vomiting in an effort to reduce the amount of poison within the gastrointestinal tract. If not given proper treatment, damage to the liver and kidneys take place and can lead to the death of the animal.

In most cases where only a small dose of arsenic was ingested, most animals can survive even without treatment however ingestion of high doses result in acute cases where death may occur a few hours after signs of poisoning were manifested by the animal. It is for this reason that any suspected case of arsenic poisoning should be brought immediately to your veterinarian’s attention.

Prognosis is often grave when an animal has ingested large amounts of arsenic. Each case of arsenic poisoning should be treated as a medical emergency in order to improve the dog’s chances of survival.

Common clinical signs of arsenic poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, abdominal pain, staggering, dehydration, weakness and collapse.

In dogs, diagnosis of arsenic poisoning can be confirmed by testing the urine and stomach contents. Other recommended procedures to help in diagnosing the condition include a complete blood count, urinalysis, liver and function tests.
The aim of the treatment procedure is to lessen the amount of arsenic absorbed while reducing and eliminating any remaining poison still inside the body.

Poison can be removed either by inducing vomiting and/or pumping the stomach. Most animals often vomit without being induced because arsenic is very irritating to the stomach. Dogs which have ingested large amounts of the substance and are showing advanced signs of toxicity can benefit from chelation therapy. It is a process where medication is used to promote binding of arsenic and prevent it from being absorbed into the blood circulation. However, the medications which have been used for arsenic chelation often have adverse side effects thus the procedure should only be used when the dog is confirmed to have consumed high doses of arsenic. Excretion of arsenic from the body can be facilitated by administration of intravenous fluids which can also help correct the fluid and electrolyte imbalance of the body.