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Heavy Metal Poisoning in Dogs and EDTA

EDTA (Calcium Disodium)

EDTA, otherwise known as Edetate Calcium Disodium, is a chelating agent used to treat lead poisoning and heavy metal toxicity in dogs, cats, and other animal patients.

Signs and Symptoms of Heavy Metal Poisoning

Heavy metal poisoning will cause an animal to experience signs and symptoms that affect the neurological and gastrointestinal systems. Common neurological signs of toxicity include seizures, running around in circles or running aimlessly, blindness, ataxia (loss of muscle coordination), and changes in behavior. Typical gastrointestinal problems include abdominal pain, vomiting, lack of appetite, and either constipation or diarrhea.

What Causes Heavy Metal Toxicity?

An animal, especially a younger one, can get lead poisoning or toxic levels of heavy metals in the blood system by ingesting large amounts of metal-containing materials. Common sources of lead and other heavy metals include paint, plumbing materials, lead foil, golf balls, linoleum tiles, and solder. Lead weights, newspaper dyes, certain inks, and insulation are other products that contain trace-to-moderate amounts of heavy metals.

Dogs and cats also can become exposed to lead by drinking water from lead pipes or from a ceramic bowl that has been improperly glazed.

EDTA Precautions

EDTA should not be administered to allergic or hypersensitive animals. It also should be avoided in patients suffering from a pre-existing kidney condition. In some cases, a second administration of EDTA is needed if the first course does not provide adequate results.

If the patient experiences vomiting or diarrhea while undergoing EDTA treatment, a zinc supplement may be incorporated because EDTA also chelates zinc in addition to lead and other heavy metals.

How Is EDTA Supplied and Administered?

Since lead and other heavy metals displace calcium in the body, many veterinarians will use EDTA (Calcium Disodium) as a chelation agent, as it not only aids in eliminating lead or heavy metals, but also increases calcium levels throughout the body. Blood lead concentration levels must be tested and then monitored throughout EDTA therapy until lead levels drop to normal.

EDTA (Calcium Disodium) is administered either subcutaneously or through an ophthalmic solution. The dose typically is given to the patient in a veterinary office or animal hospital setting where blood monitoring can be performed. EDTA can be obtained via prescription through a veterinary compounding pharmacy.

About the Author

Dr. Evan Ware

Dr. Evan Ware is a veterinary practitioner in Phoenix, Arizona. He received both his undergraduate degree in microbiology and his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from The Ohio State University.

Dr. Ware is currently the Medical Director of University Animal Hospital (VCA) and is also the owner of two other hospitals, including Laveen Veterinary Center and Phoenix Veterinary Center. His areas of expertise include orthopedic medicine and surgery, veterinary oncology and chemotherapy, and general and advanced soft-tissue surgery.