Breeders and vets alike are urging dog owners to learn the dangers of hand and foot warmers this winter after a golden retriever died from ingesting one.
“I just want to give a warning to everyone after receiving some very sad news earlier today about the death of a young dog we bred,” an Aussie breeder shared on Facebook.
“Please be careful when using the Hothands (or similar brands) hand warmers/foot warmers that are air activated.
“A family who bought a puppy from us towards the end of last year lost their young dog after he found one of these… and ate almost all of the hand warmer.
“He received urgent vet treatment, staying at the emergency vet overnight… Sadly, he had sustained organ damage, he deteriorated through the night and died.”
Hothands Hand Warmers are rectangular shaped single-use air-activated heat packs that provide up to 10 hours of continuous warmth for the hands.
The product – which is sold for less than $2 at Woolworths, Coles and Priceline – contains iron powder; a highly toxic and potentially lethal ingredient to household pets.
However, it is when the hand warmers have not been ‘activated’ that they are most toxic.
“Once the product is used, the iron becomes oxidised (iron oxide = rust) and is no longer toxic. If unused, we can see iron toxicosis if enough is ingested,” says veterinarian Jess Green of Vet HQ Darlinghurst.
The Sydney vet urges dog owners to be aware of ‘iron toxicosis’ (or ‘iron poisoning’) which stems from the ingestion of products containing iron such as hand warmers and multivitamins.
“Severe iron poisoning requires a lot of time and effort to treat effectively. Thus, treatment can become costly,” Dr Green explains.
And the best treatment? Prevention.
“Teaching owners about the dangers of iron toxicosis and the importance of keeping all hand warmers, medications, multivitamins, and iron supplements out of reach of animals will help avoid serious injury.
“If a pet has ingested anything foreign, it is best to give us a call and have a chat to us about whether or not anything needs to be done. Taking action in the early stages of toxic ingestion can be lifesaving.”
For the owner of the young dog who died from eating this product, raising awareness is key.
The dog lover – who wishes to remain anonymous – will be contacting the company that imports and distributes these products, calling for an explicit warning to be labelled on each individual item warning people of the lethal ingredient.
While there is a warning on the package reading: “keep out of reach of children and pets”, there isn’t a warning on the individual items.
“There is similar warnings on the desiccant/silica sachets in vitamins, so why not Hothands?”
Hothands has been contacted for a comment.
Has your pet experienced iron toxicosis? If so, let us know.