Are Vitamin Supplements Toxic to Non-Human Animals?

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Are Vitamin Supplements Toxic to Non-Human Animals?

Postby jewish_scientist » Mon Apr 02, 2018 6:33 pm UTC

I am writing a story and there is a plot point where someone accidentally lets their pet eat a vitamin supplement and gets really sick. Would regular supplements contain enough nutrients to do that and which nutrients would be responsible?

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Re: Are Vitamin Supplements Toxic to Non-Human Animals?

Postby Soupspoon » Mon Apr 02, 2018 7:31 pm UTC

No specific knowledge, but given chocolate gives dogs theobromine poisoning (not itself an vitamin/etc, but could have an analogue substance in a 'harmless' bulkifier in a vitimin tablets that is not harmless in the presence of a pet's differing set of native enzymes) and also that excess vitamin-C (>200x RDA, perhaps, depending on source) can cause illness in humans, I would not be surprised if a small pet could become at least uncomfortable after snaffling down a hundred or so 1-a-day(-for-adult-humans!) single-vitimin or multi-vitamin tablets from an upset/unattended bottle of them.

For likely candidates, I'd look at the ones needing 'trace' or minimal RDAs, in humans, and see if there's any literature about their effects in larger quantities/in pets, as it'd be quite easy to engineer an over-/mis-dosing plotline, compared with the things we need a lot of (but, as per chocolate, particularly bad effects in pets could work with 'one-dose' errors, too).

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Re: Are Vitamin Supplements Toxic to Non-Human Animals?

Postby Jplus » Mon Apr 02, 2018 8:06 pm UTC

I heard that eating dietary supplements that are intended for humans are a common cause of death among pets. While I don't have a link ready to support this, I think this shouldn't be surprising. Most substances are toxic if taken in too high amounts and as Soupspoon already said, pets tend to have less body weight. Fat-soluble vitamins tend to lead to intoxication faster than water-soluble ones as the latter are easier to get rid of through urination.
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Re: Are Vitamin Supplements Toxic to Non-Human Animals?

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Apr 02, 2018 10:33 pm UTC

jewish_scientist wrote:
Would regular supplements contain enough nutrients to do that?
If you're talking about a 200lb Saint Bernard, probably not. If you're talking about a 2oz rodent, probably yes.

In other words, care to be more specific?
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Re: Are Vitamin Supplements Toxic to Non-Human Animals?

Postby Eebster the Great » Mon Apr 02, 2018 10:38 pm UTC

Theobromine is also toxic to humans and definitely would not be used as a binder for supplements. Any fat soluble vitamin could be toxic to pets. The main reason is not that they are a different species but that they are usually very small and tend to eat indiscriminately. If the pet is large and picky, you will have to be more specific.

EDIT: gmalivuk's comment just popped up and said the same thing, but whatever.


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Re: Are Vitamin Supplements Toxic to Non-Human Animals?

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Apr 03, 2018 3:16 pm UTC

Why "let's say"? Do you have a story or not?

In any case as mentioned it would probably have to be a fat soluble vitamin and the danger to a dog would probably come from eating more than one, because I doubt there'd be enough vitamin A in one dose to be toxic to a medium sized dog.
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Re: Are Vitamin Supplements Toxic to Non-Human Animals?

Postby Bloopy » Tue Apr 03, 2018 11:16 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:No specific knowledge, but given chocolate gives dogs theobromine poisoning (not itself an vitamin/etc, but could have an analogue substance in a 'harmless' bulkifier in a vitimin tablets that is not harmless in the presence of a pet's differing set of native enzymes) and also that excess vitamin-C (>200x RDA, perhaps, depending on source) can cause illness in humans, I would not be surprised if a small pet could become at least uncomfortable after snaffling down a hundred or so 1-a-day(-for-adult-humans!) single-vitimin or multi-vitamin tablets from an upset/unattended bottle of them.

Although theobromine isn't a vitamin, both it and other methylxanthines (caffeine etc.) are used for energy/exercise/fat burning/bodybuilding-type supplements. So that could be a good option.

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Re: Are Vitamin Supplements Toxic to Non-Human Animals?

Postby jewish_scientist » Wed Apr 04, 2018 3:05 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Why "let's say"? Do you have a story or not?

I have not decided on exactly what the pet will be. A medium sized dog is probably the upper limit though.

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Re: Are Vitamin Supplements Toxic to Non-Human Animals?

Postby eran_rathan » Wed Apr 04, 2018 4:04 pm UTC

Prenatal vitamins (because of the dexdran or ferrous sulfate) or Vit D would be the most toxic for cats or dogs, based on their weight.
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Re: Are Vitamin Supplements Toxic to Non-Human Animals?

Postby Eebster the Great » Thu Apr 05, 2018 1:19 am UTC

Iron does seem like a better idea than fat-soluble vitamins. LD50s are in the same ballpark, but doses found in supplements tend to be higher for iron than for vitamin D (for example). For instance, my prescription-strength vitamin D3 supplements (taken once a week) contain only 1.25 mg of vitamin D each.

The LD50 for iron(II) sulfate heptahydrate in rats is 237 mg/kg body weight. For a 50 lb dog, assuming dogs have a similar LD50 to rats, that would be 5300 mg of iron(ii) sulfate heptahydrate or 1100 mg of iron. A typical prenatal vitamin contains 27 mg of iron, so it would take about 40 to have a 50% chance of killing the dog. Considering a medium-sized bottle can easily hold 250 tablets, that seems utterly realistic. It also means you can adjust some of these parameters up or down a little depending on how large you want the pet to be, how badly you want it to be harmed, etc.

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Re: Are Vitamin Supplements Toxic to Non-Human Animals?

Postby Liri » Thu Apr 05, 2018 2:52 am UTC

It's probably also more immediately believable to a lay audience that a different supplement than a vitamin is the culprit. For someone - probably most people - who doesn't understand the difference between fat- and water-soluble vitamins, they've probably seen pills/energy drinks with 5000% or whatever of a B-vitamin and might be dubious of their potential for harm.
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Re: Are Vitamin Supplements Toxic to Non-Human Animals?

Postby p1t1o » Thu Apr 05, 2018 8:23 am UTC

Could just call it "medication"?

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Re: Are Vitamin Supplements Toxic to Non-Human Animals?

Postby Nicias » Thu Apr 05, 2018 2:39 pm UTC


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Re: Are Vitamin Supplements Toxic to Non-Human Animals?

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Apr 05, 2018 5:10 pm UTC

Liri wrote:It's probably also more immediately believable to a lay audience that a different supplement than a vitamin is the culprit. For someone - probably most people - who doesn't understand the difference between fat- and water-soluble vitamins, they've probably seen pills/energy drinks with 5000% or whatever of a B-vitamin and might be dubious of their potential for harm.

The ignorance of the audience to interesting facts is no excuse for dumbing down your writing and pretending those facts don't exist.
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