Nicotine Poisoning in Dogs

Nicotine poisoning may occur in dogs that are exposed to second hand smoke or canines that accidentally chew on tobacco, nicotine gum or patches. The severity of the poisoning depends on the amounts of ingested nicotine. The poisoning can be fatal if the dog ingests a large amount of nicotine and he doesn’t receive emergency treatment.

Nicotine Containing Products

Nicotine poisoning can result from the inhalation of cigarette smoke (second hand smoke), but it may also be a result of the ingestion of the following products that contain nicotine:

  • Tobacco
  • Cigar butts
  • Nicotine gum
  • Nicotine patches

If any of these are ingested, the dog is very likely to suffer from a nicotine poisoning. These products should be stored safely, so that the pet doesn’t have access to these. It is also recommended not to smoke in rooms where the dog spends a lot of time, as even when inhaling cigar or cigarette smoke, nicotine may enter the dog’s system.

Symptoms of Nicotine Poisoning

Nicotine poisoning will be signaled by a number of symptoms that may include:

  • Chronic vomiting, as the dog tries to eliminate the harmful substances
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughing
  • Shaking
  • Excessive drooling
  • Small pupils
  • Dehydration
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Seizures
  • Coma

How Much Nicotine Lead to Toxicity

Nicotine can be toxic even when administered in small amounts in canines. Even 5 mg of nicotine can be toxic for smaller canines. The toxic dose is considered between ½ and 1 mg per pound of body weight. The dose that can cause death is around 4 mg per body weight. It is difficult to establish whether a nicotine gum or a patch causes toxicity, as this can depend on the size of your pet. However, if you have a 20 pound dog, ingesting 1 regular cigarette can lead to toxicity, while 5 ingested cigarettes could cause death. If your dog has ingested any nicotine containing products, you should check the amount of nicotine and try to figure out if the dose is toxic.

Emergency Treatment for Nicotine Toxicity

A dog with nicotine toxicity should be taken immediately to the hospital. It’s important to know the amount of nicotine ingested by your pet. If your dog is not vomiting, you can induce vomiting, by administering 1 glass of water that contains 1 tbsp of hydroxide peroxide. When vomiting, the dog will eliminate a large part of the ingested substances and this can diminish the amount of nicotine that will be absorbed in the system.

If you cannot induce vomiting, rush to the vet and he will administer activated charcoal. The activated charcoal will absorb the toxic substances and prevent these from being absorbed in the pet’s body. IV fluids can also be administered, especially if the dog is severely dehydrated.

The prognosis will depend on the amount of nicotine ingested and the time elapsed between the ingestion of the nicotine product and the administration of the emergency treatment.