1. Contact your veterinarian immediately and take your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
  2. Your veterinarian may instruct you to induce vomiting, however, do not induce vomiting unless instructed to.
  3. In the case of zinc products being ingested, provide a sample or what remains of the item to your veterinarian to aid in determining the dose received.



Depends on the dose ingested.


The time from ingestion to onset is unknown, but ingestion of zinc lotions and sunscreens may lead to vomiting within an hour.

  • Inappetance
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Lethargy/fatigue
  • Depression
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pale gums and mucus membranes (due to anaemia)
  • Yellow-tinged gums and mucus membranes (jaundice)
  • Orange coloured stool
  • Excessive drinking (polydipsia)
  • Excessive thirst (polyuria)
  • Seizures
  • Death


Zinc at high levels is damaging to the gastrointestinal tract, liver, kidneys, pancreas and red blood cells. It can cause gastrointestinal ulceration, liver failure, kidney failure, pancreatitis and anaemia due to destruction of red blood cells. Death can occur secondary to multi-organ failure.


Veterinary treatment may involve endoscopic or surgical removal of metallic foreign bodies.

Gastroprotectants may be prescribed as these can reduce the rate of release of zinc from zinc objects. Severely affected animals may require intravenous fluids and blood transfusions.



BSAVA (2012) BSAVA/VPIS Guide to Common Canine and Feline Poisons. Gloucester: BSAVA.

Poppenga RH (2011) Metals and minerals. In: Small Animal Toxicology Essentials ed. RH Poppenga and SM Gwaltney-Brant. London: Wiley-Blackwell. Pp281-283.