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What if my pet swallows a pouch?

Updated: Feb 15


Pet swallowing nicotine pouch

We know you love nicotine and your pets and are afraid if your pet swallows or eats the pouch! In this article, we shall explore how nicotine pouches are harmful to your pets and how to identify signs that your pet may have swallowed one. And how to manage and take care of your pet if it does so.


Pets, particularly cats and dogs, are susceptible to poisoning from nicotine when present in homes where individuals use products containing nicotine, including tobacco, nicotine pouches, nicotine gum, and e-cigarettes. As nicotine is toxic in small doses, a dose of even 1 mg can harm your pet even though the average lethal dose for a dog is around 10 mg. [1] Accidental ingestion by pets by playing with or chewing nicotine-containing products can be fatal. It is crucial to familiarize oneself with the signs of nicotine poisoning and take appropriate measures to assist animals exposed to this harmful chemical.



How exactly does a nicotine pouch cause harm to pets?


The reason why nicotine is dangerous to pets is that it imitates the activity of acetylcholine, a chemical that is naturally produced in their bodies. This chemical is responsible for activating nerves, and when pets are exposed to nicotine, it can cause over-activation of the nervous system at lower levels. It can cause the nervous system to fail at higher levels of exposure. This leads to nicotine toxicity. [1]



How to know if your pet swallowed a pouch?


The extent to which your pet may be affected by swallowing the nicotine varies based on the quantity and strength of the nicotine pouch consumed and also on the weight of the animal.


Some of the initial stages of symptoms of low-mild nicotine consumption could include:


• Seizures

• Hyperactivity (excitement, running around unusually)

• Unsteady gait and Stumbling Around (walking in an abnormal. Drunken fashion)

• Drooling (even while alert and active)

• Constricted pupils

• Heavy, difficult breathing

• Muscle cramps or spasms



As the levels of exposure to nicotine increase and your pet's body absorb more nicotine, the symptoms may shift to include a range of severe life-threatening effects such as low blood pressure, normal or high heart rate, inability to move, difficulty breathing, and eventually death. Additionally, nicotine can cause the brain's vomiting centre in your pet to activate, which can result in the vomiting reflex. This is a positive side-effect as it helps your pet regurgitate the swallowed pouch, thus reducing the amount of nicotine absorbed and minimizing toxicity. [1]



What to do if your pet swallows a nicotine pouch?


Now that you are sure or highly suspect that your pet has swallowed a pouch, you should immediately reach the nearest veterinary care centre.


Diagnosis


The diagnosis of nicotine toxicosis can be determined through direct observation of ingestion, examination of blood, vomit, stomach contents, and urine through toxicological analysis before death, or examination of liver, kidneys, and other tissues after death. [2,4]



Treatment of Nicotine Poisoning [1]


Nicotine poisoning in pets can lead to life-threatening effects; hence immediate care and management of the poisoning are required.


Initial treatment:

• Inducing emesis or performing gastric lavage to remove ingested nicotine.

• Administration of activated charcoal to absorb any remaining nicotine in the stomach.


Additional measures:

• Intravenous fluids to hasten renal elimination.

• Urine acidification to increase excretion. [2,4]

• Monitoring of heart rate and blood pressure and treating any abnormalities.

• Oxygen or ventilatory support may be necessary in cases of severe exposure.

• Seizures can be treated with anticonvulsants. [2,3]

• Sedation with diazepam may be required in cases of recent exposure.


Precautions:

• Gastric antacids are not recommended as they can increase gastric nicotine absorption.


Prognosis:

• In dogs, the prognosis is grave to poor when large amounts of nicotine have been ingested.

• The prognosis is good if an animal survives the first four hours.


Conclusion:

• Nicotine poisoning in pets requires prompt treatment to ensure the best possible outcome.



How to prevent nicotine poisoning?


Preventing nicotine poisoning in pets is essential to ensure their safety and well-being. Nicotine, found in products such as tobacco, nicotine gum, and e-cigarettes, can be toxic to pets and cause serious health issues or even death if ingested. To prevent nicotine poisoning in pets, here are some valuable tips:


• Keep nicotine cans, tobacco products, nicotine gum, and e-cigarettes away from pets.

• Don't let the nicotine pouches be kept in places where your pet could easily find them

• Store them in a locked cabinet or drawer that is out of reach for pets.

• Learn about the signs of nicotine toxicity and what to do if you suspect your pet has ingested a nicotine product.

• Properly dispose of nicotine products. Please do not leave them where pets can access them.

• If you use e-cigarettes, keep the liquid nicotine refills away from pets and clean up any spills immediately.

• If you suspect your pet has ingested a nicotine product, contact your veterinarian immediately.


Time is crucial when treating nicotine poisoning. Following these tips can help prevent nicotine poisoning in your pets and keep them safe and healthy. Remember that even small amounts of nicotine can be dangerous to pets, so it's essential to be vigilant and take precautions. If you have any further concerns or questions about nicotine poisoning in pets or are afraid your pet may have nicotine poisoning, please immediately consult a veterinarian.



References


1. Hackendahl, N. C. (n.d.). The dangers of nicotine ingestion in dogs - aspcapro. https://www.aspcapro.org/sites/default/files/zj-toxbrief_0304.pdf. Retrieved from https://www.aspcapro.org/sites/default/files/zj-toxbrief_0304.pdf

2. Plumlee, K.H.: Nicotine. Small Animal Toxicology, 1st Ed. (M.E. Peterson; P.A. Talcott, eds.). W.B. Saunders, Philadelphia, Pa., 2001; pp 600-602.

3. Osweiler, G.D.; Carson, T.L.: Household drugs. Handbook of Small Animal Practice, 3rd Ed. (R.V. Morgan, ed.). W.B. Saunders, Philadelphia, Pa., 1997; pp 1279-1283.

4. Vig, M.M.: Nicotine poisoning in a dog. Vet. Hum. Toxicol. 32 (6):573-575; 1990.




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