If your dog ate Epsom salt, it could suffer from metabolic alkalosis or Epsom salt poisoning. If you see any obvious signs of distress in your dog, or if it begins to act strange, immediately contact an emergency veterinarian.
As proud parents of fur babies, we all know how our little furry friends can sometimes get into things that may be dangerous for them. A curious canine can (and will) get into mischief from time to time. This can lead to sometimes ingesting things that it probably shouldn’t be eating, like grapes, chocolate, or even Epsom salt.
If your dog gets into Epsom salt, should you be concerned?
What You'll Learn
Is Epsom Salt the Same As Table Salt?
You know too much table is bad for your dog, but Epsom salt and table salt are two completely different substances.
While Epsom salt has a chemical structure that stems from the naturally occurring Magnesium Sulfate (sulfur) and Oxygen, table salt is primarily sodium chloride. Too much table salt can cause many health problems like gastrointestinal stress, neurological damage, and cardiovascular problems.
Ingesting too much sodium chloride (table salt) can cause extreme thirst paired with very frequent urination, which is a recipe for dehydration. Drinking a lot of water can reverse dehydration. Still, IV fluids must be administered to counteract the effects in severe cases.
On the other hand, Epsom salts are antibacterial agents for humans. Magnesium can soak into the skin, boosting the body’s immune system and drawing out toxins while the Oxygen boosts circulation and aids in regulating some functions of the body.
Even in small doses, Epsom salts can work miracles for us humans. Unfortunately, the same is not true for our canine companions!
While there are some beneficial external uses for dogs who suffer from sore muscles, anal gland issues, wounds, pain, or even dry and cracked paws, the use of Epsom salts for soaks should be limited to the affected area rather than soaking the entire body in an Epsom salt bath.
It’s important to limit the possibility of ingestion to avoid serious risks to your fur baby’s health.
Do Dogs Benefit From Epsom Salt?
Many veterinarians will suggest Epsom salts for soaks to help with alleviating pain, stress, or speed up the healing process of wounds.
In the winter, these soaks can be helpful for dry or cracked skin or paws. However, as mentioned above, this soak should be kept to the area or areas that need it. Immersing your pet completely in an Epsom salt bath increases the ability for your companion to ingest unhealthy amounts.
A few licks of the side of the tub or even the water itself will not lead to disaster. If, however, your pet gulps up water when you aren’t looking, he could become ill.
Many people believe that Epsom salts are a good way to treat constipation in dogs. Under no circumstances should they be used for this purpose!
This is extremely dangerous and is not recommended by veterinarians because of the risk involved.
For constipation, pumpkin is a much more natural and safe treatment, or you can discuss safe options with your vet. Please do not feed your fur baby Epsom salt for any reason.
What Happens When Dogs Ingest Epsom Salts?
If your furry friend gets into a fair amount of Epsom salts, they could suffer from elevated pH levels or metabolic alkalosis, which can be very serious, possibly fatal.
Epsom salt poisoning, which is very similar, is also a possibility and just as serious. Often the symptoms go unnoticed until too late, leading to coma and eventual death.
Signs and Symptoms of Metabolic Alkalosis and Salt Poisoning
If you have reason to believe your pooch has consumed Epsom salts, here is a list of signs and symptoms of metabolic alkalosis that you should watch for:
- Irregular heartbeats
- Muscle twitching/muscle spasms
- Ileus (intestinal arrest)
- Extreme thirst/frequent urination
- Fluid retention
- High fever
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting with or without watery diarrhea
- Tachycardia (increased heart rate)
- Respiratory distress
Again, both metabolic alkalosis and salt poisoning can lead to a coma and potentially be fatal for your dog. While some of these symptoms may be less obvious, others are noticeable, and your vet should be contacted immediately.
If you see obvious signs of distress in your dog, or they begin acting strange, please head to an emergency veterinarian immediately.
Can Epsom Salt Poisoning Be Detected?
The first step is a proper diagnosis by your veterinarian. Let them know how much you believe your animal has ingested and about how long it has been since the incident occurred.
Your vet will need to run tests that include a complete blood count, blood gasses and chemistry, and a urinalysis to check for the levels of magnesium, sulfate, and sodium levels.
Additional tests, like an EKG (for cardiac diagnosis), X-Ray, MRI, or CT scan may also be needed to fully assess potential damage to the brain, heart, and lungs.
Once a diagnosis is confirmed, treatment can be administered. Your dog will likely be given Oxygen and IV fluids and electrolytes to help combat dehydration and aid in flushing the system.
The most important step will be to bring down the high levels of magnesium sulfate, which can lead to hypermagnesemia if not treated.
What Is Hypermagnesemia?
Hypermagnesemia occurs when there are excessive levels of magnesium sulfate in the system. This can lead to severe problems like a progressive loss of respiratory, muscular, cardiovascular, and nervous system functions.
It’s also known to cause paralysis, kidney malfunctions or failure, endocrine disorders, and more.
Flushing the system with warm water enemas, electrolytes, and IV fluids are ways to lower these high levels of magnesium sulfate. Depending on how high these levels are, it could take a few days to successfully reduce them. It’s common for your buddy to remain under observation for at least an additional 24-hour period to ensure he is progressing.
If no progress is seen, it could be several more days before he can come home. The veterinarian will want to see that your dog is headed toward a full recovery before releasing him to you.
Recovery Process At Home
Once your dog has been released from the care of your veterinarian, he’s going to need plenty of recovery time at home.
The vet should give you an idea of what his recovery should entail and things to watch for.
First and foremost will be to monitor him to make sure he is drinking plenty of water and eating properly. You will probably be given instructions to alter his diet to avoid foods and treats high in sodium.
Lean meat, healthy carbohydrates, and veggies should be a big part of his diet during this recovery process.
You’ll also want to give him a comfortable place to rest, as he will need plenty of it! A comfy place, especially where he can be near you, will encourage him to take it easy and give his body time to recover properly.
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