As hard as you try to protect your pup from eating things they're not supposed to, there's a good chance at some point they'll get their paws on something not meant for their consumption.
If you know or suspect that your dog ate a prenatal vitamin, you might start to worry that they'll suffer side effects or get extremely ill. You pup's prognosis will largely depend on what ingredients are in the vitamin and how much your dog ingested.
We chatted with Dr. Yui Shapard, BVM&S, MRCVS and Medical Director at Pawp, to understand symptoms and potential treatments if your dog ate a prenatal vitamin.
What happens if your dog ate a prenatal vitamin?
If your dog ingested just one prenatal vitamin, limited GI upset is likely the most of what we will see.
"If pet parents see that their dog accidentally ingested one prenatal vitamin, they should monitor for vomiting or diarrhea at home and offer the dog a bland diet to counteract any possible stomach upset," says Dr. Shapard. "But if they ingested more than one or close to an entire bottle, then this is potentially very dangerous depending on several key factors, and an emergency visit will be more strongly warranted."
Are prenatal vitamins dangerous to dogs?
To understand the risk of serious illness if your dog ate a prenatal vitamin, it's important to look at the ingredients in the vitamin, how much of each ingredient is present, and the number of vitamins ingested. The ingredients in prenatal vitamins vary depending on which brand or type you choose, however, common ingredients include:
Folic acid or Folate
Many prenatal vitamins also contain:
"While ingestion of a prenatal vitamin is unlikely to cause any major systemic issues, we do not recommend prenatal vitamins as added supplementation for any dog on a regular basis," explains Dr. Shapard. "Many prenatal vitamins include iron, calcium and Vitamin D, which all pose a serious health concern if ingested in quantities that go above the toxic dose."
Ingestion of iron is particularly concerning when a toxic dose is consumed, leading to various cell damage that can ultimately cause death. Vitamin C can increase the absorption of iron as well, so a prenatal vitamin with both ingredients can potentially be extremely dangerous. Some prenatals also contain Vitamin A and Vitamin D, and if taken in large quantities, Vitamin A can lead to skeletal abnormalities in dogs, though this is very rare. It's more common to see Vitamin A toxicity in dogs that are fed raw liver or cod liver oil. Excessive intake of Vitamin D can lead to a condition called hypercalcemia, and this can cause acute renal failure.
Again, one or two accidental intakes of a prenatal vitamin will very unlikely cause extreme toxicity, but prenatal vitamins were not made for dogs, and due to the wide range of concentrations of these supplements in various vitamins, we cannot guarantee safety.
What will happen at the vet if my dog ate a prenatal vitamin?
Treatment at the vet will depend on what supplement is the most concerning based on the pet's pre-existing health concerns, size, age, and any medications they may be on.
It's extremely helpful to either bring the bottle of the prenatal vitamins or at least an image of the ingredients so your veterinarian can take a look and calculate if a toxic dose of any of the ingredients were ingested (especially for miniature dogs that weigh very little). If there's a concern for toxicity, at the very least, your veterinarian would want to perform a full blood work panel to check the organ and electrolyte values, as well as their RBC (red blood cell) and WBC (white blood cell) count.
If the prenatal vitamins were ingested less than 30 minutes before being seen, your veterinarian may also initiate vomiting to avoid further absorption. Depending on the severity or diagnostic results, they may want to give fluids either intravenously or under the skin and admit for hospitalization if the diagnostic tests yield concerning results and your dog is showing signs of toxicity. Specific treatment will depend largely on what toxicity your veterinarian is most concerned about.
With all this said, if your dog is young and healthy with no pre-existing medical conditions and they ate just one prenatal vitamin, your veterinarian will most likely recommend you monitor at home instead.
If you have questions or are worried after your dog ate a prenatal vitamin, our VetPros are available 24/7 to help you figure out next steps.