Nearly half of all calls to the Pet Poison Helpline involve pets ingesting human medications, with birth control pills being one of the most commonly consumed. It’s important to understand why it’s dangerous for dogs to have access to birth control pills and what steps to take if you suspect your pet may have eaten them.
Is Birth Control Toxic to Dogs?
While it’s never ideal for dogs to ingest any human medications, birth control pills have a low concentration of hormones and are generally not considered highly toxic. The main concern is the potential blockage from ingesting the packaging of the pills, rather than the pills themselves.
Types of Birth Control
Most birth control pills on the market contain low concentrations of estrogen and progesterone, with some also containing iron. It’s crucial to note that birth control pills are different from hormone replacement pills, which can have much higher levels of estrogen. When discussing your pet’s ingested medication with your veterinarian, it’s important to provide the packaging or full product information.
How Much Birth Control Can Poison a Dog?
In most birth control pills, the active tablets contain minimal amounts of estrogen and varying amounts of progesterone. Estrogen doses above 0.45 milligrams per pound can be toxic. For iron-containing tablets, a dose exceeding 9 milligrams per pound is considered toxic. It’s unlikely for a single ingestion of high doses of progesterone to cause toxicity.
Symptoms of Birth Control Poisoning in Dogs
Even a small, non-toxic ingestion of birth control pills can cause mild upset stomach, such as vomiting or diarrhea. Moderate to large ingestions can lead to loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, and, in female dogs, swelling of the genitals and vaginal bleeding. In rare cases of extreme estrogen ingestion, bone marrow suppression may occur. If your pet consumes a large number of birth control pills, contact your veterinarian immediately.
What to Do if Your Dog Eats Birth Control
If your dog has eaten birth control pills, try to determine the quantity consumed and if any packaging was ingested. Contact your veterinarian with all available information to discuss whether your pet needs to be seen. Consider reaching out to the Pet Poison Helpline or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for additional guidance. Do not induce vomiting at home unless directed by a veterinarian.
Treatment and Prognosis of Birth Control Poisoning in Dogs
If you witness your pet eating birth control pills or packaging, contact your veterinarian right away. They may recommend inducing vomiting within two hours of ingestion or administering activated charcoal if necessary. In severe cases, hospitalization with IV fluids and additional therapy might be required. The prognosis for birth control poisoning in dogs is generally excellent, with most dogs recovering fully without complications.
Preventing Birth Control Poisoning in Dogs
Prevention is crucial to keep your dog safe. Store all medications in a secure area away from pets’ reach, avoiding easy access on countertops or in purses. Never leave medication in unsecured containers or baggies. By taking these precautions, you can significantly reduce the risk of medication poisoning in your furry friend.
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