Symptoms of Metronidazole Toxicity in Dogs

Veterinarians often prescribe metronidazole for dogs for the treatment of a wide variety of conditions. Metronidazole toxicity is a concern for dogs and we’ll cover exactly how much metronidazole to give your dog, why you should be concerned, how it affects your dog’s body, symptoms of metronidazole toxicity in dogs, and what to do if your dog is poisoned by this medication.

Symptoms of Metronidazole Toxicity in Dogs

Metronidazole toxicity in dogs

Metronidazole is generally well-tolerated by animals, but it does have some potential side effects. In some cases, certain dogs may experience metronidazole toxicity.

Metronidazole toxicity occurs when a dog has taken too much of the drug or has been on the drug for too long. Adverse reactions are usually limited to digestive upset and central nervous system effects, although allergic reactions can occur in sensitive animals.

If your dog has been prescribed metronidazole and you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Changes in behavior (aggression, depression)
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Aversion to touch or handling
  • Seizures
  • Muscle tremors

Can a dog recover from metronidazole toxicity?

Recovery from metronidazole toxicity in dogs depends on how severe the symptoms are. Usually, dogs usually recover completely within a week or two.

If metronidazole toxicity is suspected, discontinuation of the drug should be the first step. Some dogs may recover with just this initial step. Others may need symptomatic and supportive therapy to help them recover.

Can metronidazole hurt my dog?

Metronidazole can cause allergic reactions in some dogs. These reactions are often mild, including symptoms such as itching and hives. However, they can also be severe and result in anaphylaxis.

Anaphylaxis is a rapid, life-threatening allergic reaction that causes symptoms such as difficulty breathing, swelling of the face or throat, vomiting and diarrhea, and low blood pressure. If your dog exhibits these symptoms after taking metronidazole or any other medication, seek veterinary attention immediately. Dogs treated quickly after an allergic reaction usually recover without further problems, but those that go untreated may die from anaphylactic shock.

While it can be an effective medication when used appropriately, it can cause severe illness if the animal has a pre-existing condition or allergy to metronidazole.

How much metronidazole is toxic for dogs?

The threshold for metronidazole toxicity in dogs is 27 mg/lb/day. This is the dose at which clinical signs of central nervous system depression. Acute high-dose exposures may result in hepatic necrosis, and death may occur despite treatment.

If your dog has ingested metronidazole outside of its normal dose range or has shown any signs of toxicity, call your veterinarian immediately for a recommendation.

How long does it take for metronidazole to get out of the dog’s system?

The time it takes for metronidazole to get out of a dog’s system varies from dog to dog, but on average it takes about 44 hours.

What is the antidote for metronidazole?

There is no specific antidote for metronidazole overdose in dogs, but you can treat their symptoms and support their bodily functions until they start to improve.

Can metronidazole cause pancreatitis in dogs?

Yes. Prolonged use of metronidazole can cause pancreatitis in dogs. If your dog has a history of pancreatitis and you’re giving them this medication, they should be closely monitored.

In general, it is not recommended to use this drug in dogs with a history of pancreatitis or seizures.

Can metronidazole cause liver damage in dogs?

Some dogs may develop neurological problems including disorientation, circling, head pressing, and seizures. These tend to occur with higher doses or longer courses of treatment. In addition, liver damage can also occur with this drug. Signs of liver toxicity include yellowing of the whites of the eyes and gums, depression, vomiting, and diarrhea.

How long should I give my dog metronidazole?

This medication is typically used for 7 to 10 days, although your veterinarian may prescribe it for a longer period of time. Do not stop giving this medication without first talking to your veterinarian.


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Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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