1. If your pet ingests a medication or product containing iron, contact your veterinarian immediately.
  2. Your veterinarian may instruct you to induce vomiting, however, do not induce vomiting unless instructed to.
  3. Bring the drugs that your pet has ingested along with its label or package insert so that your vet will have a better idea of the total dose of iron your pet has ingested.


Ferrous sulphate, ferrous fumarate, ferrous gluconate, ferric phosphate




The different clinical signs of iron toxicity occur progressively according to time.

Between 0-6 hours of ingestion, the predominant signs involve the gastrointestinal system. At the next stage, 6-24 hours after ingestion, the animal may appear to recover. At 12-96 hours post ingestion, gastrointestinal signs recur, as do cardiovascular compromise, clotting disorders, shock and potential cardiac arrest.

  • Vomiting (with or without blood)
  • Diarrhoea (with or without blood)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Depression
  • Shock
  • Abnormalities in blood clotting ability
  • Pale gums
  • Haemorrhages on the gums
  • Yellow-tinged skin and mucus membranes (jaundice)
  • Excessive drinking (polydipsia)
  • Excessive urination (polyuria)
  • Collapse
  • Coma
  • Death


Ingesting large doses of iron overwhelms the body’s protective defence mechanisms and leads to free circulating iron, causing severe tissue damage.


Veterinary care involves decontamination, including gastric lavage, and supportive therapy including intravenous fluids. Kidney and liver function should be monitored closely.Blood tests can confirm the presence of iron intoxication. Alternatively, some iron products show up well on x-rays.

In serious cases, chelation therapy may be necessary if it can be initiated early (within 12 hours of ingestion).


Hall JO (2006) Iron. In: Small Animal Toxicology. 2nd Eded. Peterson ME & Talcott PA. USA: Elsevier Saunders.