Clinical course and outcome of zinc toxicosis due to metallic foreign bodies in dogs

The objective of this retrospective study was to describe the overall clinical course of zinc toxicosis in dogs including source, time to source control, incidence of hemolytic anemia, acute liver injury (ALI), acute kidney injury (AKI), and pancreatitis. 

Medical records at 6 university veterinary teaching hospitals were electronically searched for client-owned dogs between 2005 and 2021 that contained 1 or more codes for “zinc,” “Zn,” “penny,” and “metallic foreign body.” 

Fifty-five dogs with known zinc toxicosis due to metallic foreign body (MFB) ingestion were enrolled. The most common source of zinc was US pennies minted after 1982 (67.3%). Forty-five of 55 (81.8%) dogs survived and 10 of 55 (18.2%) died or were euthanized. Median length of hospitalization for survivors and nonsurvivors was 3 days. The most common clinical sequelae of zinc toxicosis were anemia (87%), ALI (82%), coagulopathy (71%), thrombocytopenia (30.5%), AKI (26.9%), and acute pancreatitis (5.5%). Most dogs (67.3%) required blood products and 83% of dogs achieved a stable HCT or PCV in a median of 24 hours after MFB removal. The median duration of illness prior to presentation was 48 hours for both survivors and nonsurvivors and there was no impact of time to presentation on the incidence of ALI, AKI, or pancreatitis. 

According to the authors, zinc toxicosis secondary to MFB ingestion should be considered a differential diagnosis for dogs with gastrointestinal signs, hemolytic anemia, ALI, hemostatic abnormalities, AKI, and pancreatitis. AKI may be a more common sequela of zinc toxicosis than previously suspected. Acute pancreatitis is a rare but potentially serious sequela to zinc toxicosis. 

“Retrospective evaluation of the clinical course and outcome of zinc toxicosis due to metallic foreign bodies in dogs (2005-2021): 55 cases”. Cameron S Henke, et al. J Vet Emerg Crit Care (San Antonio). 2023 Oct 17.  doi: 10.1111/vec.13330.   


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