Iron Intoxication in a Dog Consequent to the Ingestion of Oxygen Absorber Sachets in Pet Treat Packaging

A. G. Brutlag, C. T C Flint, Birgit Puschner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Oxygen absorbers are commonly used in packages of dried or dehydrated foods (e. g., beef jerky, dried fruit) to prolong shelf life and protect food from discoloration and decomposition. They usually contain reduced iron as the active ingredient although this is rarely stated on the external packaging. Although reduced iron typically has minimal oral bioavailability, such products are potential sources of iron poisoning in companion animals and children. We present a case of canine ingestion of an oxygen absorber from a bag of dog treats that resulted in iron intoxication necessitating chelation therapy. A 7-month-old female Jack Russell terrier presented for evaluation of vomiting and melena 8-12 h after ingesting 1-2 oxygen absorber sachets from a package of dog treats. Serum iron concentration and ALT were elevated. The dog was treated with deferoxamine and supportive care. Clinical signs resolved 14 h following treatment, but the ALT remained elevated at the 3-month recheck. The ingestion of reduced iron in humans has been reported to cause mild elevation of serum iron concentration with minimal clinical effects. To our knowledge, no cases of iron intoxication following the ingestion of oxygen absorbers have been reported. The lack of ingredient information on the packaging prompted analysis of contents of oxygen absorber sachets. Results indicate the contents contained 50-70% total iron. This case demonstrates that iron intoxication can occur following the ingestion of such products. Human and veterinary medical personnel need to be aware of this effect and monitor serum iron concentrations as chelation may be necessary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)76-79
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Medical Toxicology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • Chelation therapy
  • Deferoxamine
  • Food preservatives
  • Heavy metal poisoning
  • Oxygen scavenger
  • Reduced iron

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Toxicology


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