Arsenic Poisoning in Dogs: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment What you should know about Arsenic Poisoning in Canines

Arsenic Poisoning in Dogs: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Arsenic poisoning, also known as arsenic toxicity, is a condition that occurs when an individual, including dogs, is exposed to high levels of arsenic, a toxic chemical element. This article will discuss what you need to know about arsenic poisoning and how to prevent it.

Arsenic poisoning is a dangerous and potentially fatal illness that can occur in dogs. Arsenic is an extremely hazardous chemical found in insecticides, herbicides, and some wood preservatives. It often causes heavy metal poisoning in dogs. Early detection and treatment of arsenic poisoning in canines are crucial to ensure a positive outcome for affected dogs.

The causes, signs, and treatments for canine arsenic poisoning will all be covered in this article along with advice on how to keep your dog safe from this poison.


Arsenic poisoning in animals can occur from different sources. Some of the probable causes of arsenic poisoning in dogs are as follows:

  • Environmental exposure: Dogs are susceptible to ingesting arsenic from contaminated soil, water, and air. Arsenic is a naturally occurring element found in rocks and minerals, but it may also be discharged into the environment by industrial activities such as mining, smelting, and refining.

  • Accidental ingestion: Dogs may consume arsenic accidentally by eating contaminated food, drinking contaminated water, or chewing on or licking arsenic-containing things such as pressure-treated wood, insecticides, or herbicides.

  • Intentional poisoning: Unfortunately, some people may intentionally poison dogs with arsenic or other deadly poisons for different reasons, including vengeance, property protection, or wildlife management.

  • Occupational exposure: Dogs that work in certain industries, such as mining or agriculture, may be at higher risk of arsenic exposure due to the nature of their work.

  • Breed disposition: Certain breeds of dogs, such as Labrador Retrievers, are more susceptible to arsenic toxicity due to their indiscriminate eating behavior and love of water.

  • Medical treatment: Arsenic-based medications such as melarsomine, used to treat heartworm disease, can also cause arsenic poisoning if not administered properly.


Some of the most prevalent signs of canine arsenic poisoning are:

  • Gastrointestinal problems: Vomiting, diarrhea, stomach discomfort, and lack of appetite are some of the most frequent gastrointestinal symptoms related to arsenic poisoning in dogs.

  • Respiratory distress: Arsenic exposure can cause respiratory problems such as coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing.

  • Skin lesions: Arsenic poisoning can cause skin lesions such as scabs, blisters, or ulcerations on the footpads or in the mouth.

  • Neurological symptoms: Arsenic poisoning can disrupt the neurological system, causing symptoms such as convulsions, tremors, and muscular weakness.

  • Dehydration: Arsenic poisoning can result in dehydration, which can induce lethargy, weakness, and dry skin and mucous membranes.

  • Increased thirst and urination: Arsenic poisoning in dogs might cause them to urinate more frequently and drink more water than usual.

  • Elevated heart rate: Arsenic poisoning can cause an elevated heart rate, which a veterinarian can detect during an exam.


The signs of arsenic poisoning can be similar to those of other conditions. However, there are several diagnostic tests that veterinarians can use to help determine if a dog has been exposed to arsenic which may include:

  • Physical examination: A veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination of the dog, looking for signs of skin lesions, gastrointestinal upset, respiratory distress, and other symptoms that may indicate arsenic poisoning.

  • Blood tests: Blood tests can be used to detect changes in red and white blood cell counts, liver and kidney function, and electrolyte levels, which can indicate arsenic poisoning.

  • Urine analysis: A urine sample can be analyzed for the presence of arsenic and other toxins.

  • X-rays: X-rays can help detect any abnormalities in the lungs or gastrointestinal tract, which may indicate arsenic poisoning.

  • History and clinical signs: The veterinarian will also consider the dog's medical history and clinical signs, as well as any possible exposure to arsenic or other toxic substances.

  • Testing of suspected sources: If the source of the poisoning is suspected to be contaminated water or soil, testing the suspected source may be necessary to confirm the presence of arsenic.

Treatment and Management Options

Arsenic toxicity in dogs treatment should begin as soon as possible to improve the chances of a positive outcome. Some of the treatment options for arsenic poisoning in dogs are:

  • Decontamination: If the dog just consumed arsenic, the initial step may be to induce vomiting to eliminate the poison from the stomach. Activated charcoal can be given to the dog to absorb the leftover arsenic in the stomach and intestines,

  • Fluid therapy: Arsenic poisoning can result in dehydration. Thus, the dog may require IV fluids to maintain hydration and electrolyte balance.

  • Medications: Medications can be used to treat symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures. Metoclopramide, Pro-Pectalin, and Primidone may be used for these conditions respectively.

  • Chelation therapy: Chelation treatment is the administration of a drug that binds to arsenic and excretes it from the body through urine. This is normally reserved for severe arsenic poisoning situations.

  • Supportive care: Dogs with arsenic poisoning may need supportive care such as oxygen therapy, nutritional support, and wound management if skin lesions are present.

  • Hospitalization: In severe cases of arsenic poisoning, hospitalization may be necessary to monitor the dog's condition and provide intensive care closely.

Preventive Tips

The knowledge of potential exposure sources and taking precautions to reduce the risk are key components of preventing arsenic toxicity in animals, particularly dogs. Following are some recommendations for avoiding canine arsenic poisoning:

  • Store toxic substances securely: Keep all poisonous materials safely stored up and out of dogs' reach, such as pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides. 

  • Monitor your dog's outdoor activities: Keep an eye on your dog when they are outdoors and make sure they aren't eating or drinking from any unidentified sources of water.

  • Pressure-treated wood should be avoided: Because pressure-treated wood contains arsenic, keep your dog away from any constructions built of it.

  • Use non-toxic cleaning products: To prevent unintentional exposure to dangerous substances, use non-toxic cleaning supplies both inside and outside your house.

  • Keep your dog up-to-date on vaccinations: Some vaccinations can help protect your dog against diseases that can cause skin lesions similar to those caused by arsenic poisoning.

  • Be aware of the symptoms: Familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of arsenic poisoning, and seek veterinary care immediately if you suspect your dog has been exposed.

  • You can safeguard your dog from hazardous toxins like arsenic poisoning by following the above-listed preventive actions. 

Recovery from arsenic poisoning can take several weeks, and some dogs may have long-term effects on their health. Therefore, prevention is always the best approach. It is important to keep dogs away from potential sources of arsenic and other toxic substances.

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