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What Should You Do If Your Dog Ate A Birth Control Pill?

Everyone has medications in their house, but when you live with a pet you need to be extra careful so they don’t end up stumbling upon it and eating them by mistake. Most human medications are in fact very dangerous for our pets.

Birth control pills are to be taken every day, so it’s easier to forget them around the house where your dog may find them. If your dog ate birth control pills, make an estimate of how many they ate and if it’s more than two or three, bring them to the vet.

What should you do if your dog ate birth control pills?

The toxicity of birth control pills depends on their ingredients, on the amount your dog ate and on their size. If you catch your dog eating birth control pills, use the “leave it” command to make them spit those that are still in their mouth and quickly remove the others.

Often enough, it will be too late to intervene to stop your dog. When all is done and your dog has had the time to go through the whole packet as they please, count how many pills are missing from the packet.

Soon after, check the levels of estrogen for each tablet to make an estimate of how much your dog ingested. Birth control pills usually come in packets of 28 pills, 7 of which are placebo pills.

The 7 placebo pills are usually just sugar pills, so keep this in mind when you count the missing tablets because the situation may not be as dangerous as it seems.

With the number of pills eaten in mind and the packet in your hand, call the veterinarian and ask for advice. If the situation doesn’t seem too serious and the pills do not contain more dangerous ingredients, it might be manageable from home.

Please note that even if your dog ingested just a handful of pills and is not showing symptoms, bringing them to the vet for a medical check-up is always recommended because these pills may have unpredictable side-effects on dogs.

Within 2 hours from ingestion, your veterinarian may suggest inducing vomiting to get the pills out.

Pet medical expenses can be costly, but if you can it would be better to have this procedure carried out by an expert because inducing vomiting in dogs could have nasty side-effects.

How to induce vomiting in your dog.

If you want to induce vomiting in your dog at home, you will need fresh hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide should be replaced every six months if you opened it, but unopened can last up to three years.

If you’re not sure whether the hydrogen peroxide you have at home is still good, you can make a simple test: pour some of it in the sink and see if it fizzes and makes bubbles. If it does, then it’s good and you can use it to induce vomiting in your dog.

You can give your dog 2 teaspoons of 3% hydrogen peroxide per 10lbs of body weight. To make it more pleasant for your dog, you can also mix the hydrogen peroxide 50:50 with milk or ice cream.

Keeping in mind that this procedure should be done by your veterinarian, if you don’t mind wrestling a little with your dog, kneel down on the floor and block your dog between your knees, facing the opposite way from you.

Raise their muzzle so that it points at the ceiling, open their mouth and pour a shot glass of hydrogen peroxide down their throat.

It is recommended to make your dog move around afterward because it makes it easier for him to vomit. If your dog doesn’t vomit after the first attempt, you can try again after 15 minutes.

If after the second attempt your dog is still not vomiting, do not try to induce vomiting again and bring your dog to the veterinarian.

What happens if a dog eats birth control pills? 

Birth control pills aren’t always dangerous for dogs. If you dropped a birth control pill and your dog ate it in the blink of an eye, it’s unlikely they will experience any discomfort, though you should still ring up your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline just to be safe.

The risks of birth control pills are related to the number of estrogens contained in each tablet. Some brands of birth control pills may also have other components that could be dangerous for your dog, like iron.

Please note that your dog should ingest a large number of birth control pills to experience side-effects from estrogen and iron because the amount contained in each pill is really minimal.

However, since each brand of birth control pills is different and we still do not know everything about the relationship between dogs and human birth control pills, there might be unpredictable consequences when your dog eats a birth control pill.

Estrogen toxicity in dogs. 

Usually, birth control pills contain less than 0.04mg of estrogens per tablet, while the toxicity of estrogen is over 1mg per kg of body weight, so it takes a considerable amount of pills to get your dog intoxicated.

Estrogens are present in many human products such as creams, patches, and gels. In addition, people who are undergoing estrogen treatments will perspire estrogens that could affect dogs when they’re being hugged or handled by the person under treatment.

Small dogs are more at risk because their reduced body weight not only lowers the threshold of estrogen toxicity but also makes it easier to pick up and handle.

Keeping in mind that when your dog eats birth control pills, you should be headed to the veterinarian, if you’re handling the situation from home instead, be on the lookout for the following symptoms:

  • Lethargy
  • Swelling of the vulva
  • Blood in the urine
  • Fever
  • Recurrent infections
  • Enlarged breasts
  • Pale gums
  • Alopecia
  • Prolonged heat in females
  • Decreased libido in males
  • Changes in the testicles (different sizes and/or decreased size)
  • Development of breasts in males
  • Depression

You should treat any of these symptoms as a medical emergency and rush your dog to the nearest animal clinic to have them treated.

Iron poisoning. 

Some birth control pills may contain small quantities of iron. To be toxic, your dog should ingest more than 20mg of iron per kg of body weight (20mg/kg), so it’s rare to get iron poisoning from eating birth control pills.

Iron is the most common trace mineral in a dog’s body, but an excess of iron in the blood could be fatal. Iron poisoning in dogs is usually provoked by the ingestion of metal items like safety pins, or even fertilizers, pesticides, and oxygen absorbers.

Dogs who get intoxication by iron usually go through four stages of poisoning:

– 1st stage: occurs within 6 hours from ingestion. Your dog goes through stomach discomfort resulting in vomiting and diarrhea. Can easily be confused with other conditions like gastrointestinal obstruction;

– 2nd stage: between 6-24 hours from ingestion. Your dog seems to have made a full recovery and is acting normally;

– 3rd stage: between 12-96 hours from ingestion. The third stage is when you start seeing worrying symptoms such as increased heart rate, blood in the stools, tremors, and seizures. At this time, your dog is in a life-threatening situation and needs to be treated immediately.

– 4th stage: up to 6 weeks after the ingestion. Your dog could develop gastrointestinal discomfort and blockage, sometimes without major symptoms. This could lead to liver damage. If you suspect your dog is going through GI tract discomfort, bring them to the vet as soon as possible.

The prognosis for iron poisoning in dogs is good for those that get treated promptly. For safety purposes, you should keep monitoring your dog for a few months after the ingestion, in case symptoms return.

Do human birth control pills work as dogs’ contraceptives? 

Dogs and humans are completely different when it comes to reproduction, so our contraceptives do not work on them. Dogs go into heat season once or twice per year and birth control for dogs usually means spaying or neutering them.

While some may argue that unlike dogs, when women have hysterectomy their ovaries are not removed, you need to keep in mind that dogs cannot control their instinct and there are many cases of female dogs that run from home during heat season, ending in unwanted litters.

Consider also that spaying female dogs mean preventing severe diseases like breast, ovarian and uterine cancer, which is why this method is usually preferred.

With that said, that’s not to say there aren’t dog’s contraceptives on the market. They usually come in the form of injections and tablets but are not yet approved in the United States.

However, these medications usually bear heavy and life-threatening side-effects that do not make them safe for dogs.

Some side-effects from dogs’ birth control pills include:

  • Liver damage
  • Vaginal infections
  • Infertility
  • Skin problems
  • Behavioral changes
  • Uterus infection
  • Cancer

As you can see, the benefits are no match for the cost. It is nonetheless worth noting that there is a huge interest in researching this area and we’re probably going to have safer and less invasive birth control methods for dogs in the future.

Is the birth control pill toxic for dogs? 

Birth control pills are far from being safe for your dog, but their toxicity depends on the amount your dog ingested.

In a packet of birth control pills, there are usually 28 tablets, which is usually not enough to cause poisoning symptoms, considering also that 7 of them are placebo pills.

However, if your dog ate more than a handful of pills, it would be better to have them examined. Some brands of birth control pills could use other components in their product that may be toxic to dogs, like iron.

Given that birth control pills are to be taken daily, it may be harder to store them away like other medications. Nonetheless, keeping them locked in a drawer or in your everyday bag could be a safer option to make sure your dog doesn’t stumble upon them.