Toxicology case: How to help dog owners manage zinc oxide toxicosis

May 01, 2014

A 6-month-old 42-lb (19.1-kg) Labrador retriever chewed on a tube of diaper rash ointment containing 10% zinc oxide. The dog punctured the tube and ingested about 3 oz of the ointment but did not ingest any of the plastic tube. The estimated dose of zinc oxide ingested by this dog was 448.8 mg/kg.

The owner called the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) about 15 minutes after the exposure. At that time, the dog, which was in good health, was not exhibiting clinical signs.


Since the dog was asymptomatic, ASPCA APCC staff advised the owner to give the dog a small amount of milk to act as a demulcent (a coating agent that helps to reduce and relieve irritation to the oral cavity and stomach) and to monitor the dog at home for signs of mild gastrointestinal (GI) upset, including vomiting, anorexia, and diarrhea. The owner was also instructed to withhold food and water if the dog vomited.

The dog started vomiting about 75 minutes after the exposure and had intermittent vomiting for about 45 minutes. The vomitus contained clear liquid and evidence of the ointment. The dog was lethargic but was completely back to normal within seven hours.