HOW TO Treat Your Dog for Arsenic Poisoning

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HOW TOSuddenly, your very active dog is always lying down and looking extremely exhausted. She’s staggering, vomiting and has bright red blood in her stool.

It’s frightening to see and you realize that your dog may have gotten arsenic poisoning. She will need to be treated as soon as possible by a vet. explains, “Arsenic is a heavy metal mineral that is commonly included in chemical compounds for consumer products, such as herbicides (chemicals to kill unwanted plants), insecticides (chemicals to kill insects), wood preservatives and in some drug formulas for treating blood parasites like heartworm.”

The most common sources of poisoning are from parasitic treatment drugs and insecticides such as ant/roach poisons, herbicides, wood preservatives, and even some insulation.

According to, “Arsenic compounds cause reactions in the body that disrupt enzymes that are involved in cellular respiration, fat metabolism and carbohydrate metabolism. They are especially damaging to the GI tract, kidneys, lungs and skin. ”

Dogs only need to ingest about 0.5 to 11 milligrams per pound of Sodium arsenite and 3 to 6 milligrams per pound of Sodium arsenate for it to be poisonous.

What Causes Arsenic Poisoning in Dogs? explains that there are only two main causes of arsenic poisoning:

  • Ingestion of arsenic-containing compounds
  • Overdose of arsenic-containing drugs to treat heartworm parasites in dogs

What are the Symptoms of Arsenic Poisoning?

Here are some of the symptoms of arsenic poisoning to look for from and

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lethargy
  • Paralysis
  • Staggering
  • Coma
  • Shock
  • Fresh bright red blood in feces
  • Lying down with extreme exhaustion
  • Body may feel unusually cold especially at extremities including the ears and limbs
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Death in untreated dogs, or in cases of heavy intoxication
  • In chronic (long-term) exposure, symptoms may be subtle, like poor appetite

How is Arsenic Poisoning Diagnosed?

You will need to give your veterinarian a thorough history of your dog’s health leading up to the onset of symptoms and any arsenic-containing compounds you have at home.

Recommended tests from include:

  • Complete blood count – The results are usually normal.
  • Biochemical profile – may indicate dehydration and reveal mild elevations in liver enzymes. In severe cases, kidney failure and severe liver damage may be detected.
  • Urinalysis – often reveals dehydration.
  • Urine should be submitted to confirm the diagnosis.

According to, “Arsenic in the blood stream or stomach contents will confirm the diagnosis. In cases of chronic arsenic poisoning the level of arsenic in the body can be evaluated from a hair sample, as arsenic is deposited in the hair over a course of time. If possible, you should collect a sample of the vomit or diarrhea to take to the veterinarian. This will help to speed the diagnostic process so that your dog can be treated before further damage is done.”

How is Arsenic Poisoning Treated?

If you are fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to see your dog ingesting arsenic products, you can immediately try to induce vomiting. Be sure to call your vet for safe instructions on how to induce vomiting in your dog safely. advises, “However, if vomiting is not initiated in the immediate aftermath, your veterinarian will need to perform a gastric lavage (stomach irrigation) to wash out the stomach contents. As arsenic severely damages the liver and kidneys, dialysis is conducted for dogs that are in a state of kidney failure due to arsenic poisoning. The main objective of treatment is to flush the poison out of the body; therefore fluid therapy and drugs promoting excretion are commonly employed.”

Your vet may recommend using drugs to help treat your dog for long term treatment.

“Prednisone is the most common and generally most effective drug used in the treatment of immune-mediated polyarthritis. When given at high dosages, it causes suppression of the immune response. Improvement of the clinical signs is usually seen quickly, within 48 hours. To induce remission, high doses are given at the start of therapy. If remission occurs, dosages are gradually decreased and eventually stopped, over four to nine months. If remission is difficult to achieve, a relapse has occurred, or there are unwanted side effects from the prednisone, additional immunosuppressive drugs are required,” explains. also adds, “Chelation agents such as Dimercaprol (BAL) or Succimer (DMSA) are given to remove the arsenic from the body. Acetylcysteine may be given to reduce the toxicity to certain internal organs.”

How Can I Prevent My Dog From Developing Arsenic Poisoning?

“Ensure that all sources of arsenic-compounds are secured or removed. If they must be kept in the home, be sure that they are out of reach of children and pets. Most problems are easily avoided if guidelines for handling and keeping such poisonous compounds are followed,” advises

Be sure to always dispose of old ant and roach baits and prevent your dog from accessing any type of poisons.

Find A Vet HOW TO articles are intended for informational purposes only. You should always consult with your veterinarian about any health issues affecting your dog.

Next week: HOW TO Treat Your Dog’s Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD)

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Kara Ogushi

Contributing writer Kara Ogushi is a pet mom to two dogs and five rabbits. When she isn't writing travel tips for pooches, she's exploring new ways to share and create media.

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