Dog Poisoning: Treating Canine Drug Toxicity with Intravenous Lipid Emulsion


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Intravenous Lipid Emulsion used to treat drug toxicity. Photo Credit: Le67.Creative Commons

Intravenous Lipid Emulsion used to treat drug toxicity can have dramatic results – and is an inexpensive treatment for dog poisoning. Photo by Le67

Lipid Therapy: From Intravenous Nutrition to Dog Poisoning Treatment

Researchers originally developed intravenous lipid emulsions to provide complete intravenous nutrition for patients that are unable to digest foods properly as a result of disease such as pancreatitis. Doctors also use IV lipids in care of patients who have recently undergone gastrointestinal surgery, to allow the digestive system to recover.

At present, researchers don’t clearly understand how ILE reduces the effects of the ingested drugs on dogs but have developed a standard treatment protocol that appears to be safe and effective. Ms Bates told Decoded Science, “The risk of adverse effects is low and those that do occur can generally be easily managed. In addition this is a relatively inexpensive treatment.”

In this treatment protocol, an initial dose is followed by constant rate infusion (CRI). This protocol may relieve symptoms of toxicity from lipophilic drugs more quickly in most cases, and may actually save dogs whose life-threatening symptoms are not reduced/relieved through other therapies. In the case of the three dogs brought in together, the third dog, who was not given ILE was the slowest to recover, suggesting that it might have benefited from ILE as well.

Increasing Acceptance of ILE in Treating Lipophilic Medication Toxicity

The veterinary profession is beginning to turn to ILE more often in cases of lipophilic drug poisoning, but there is little published data on the value of this treatment. ILE may not be effective in dog with the genetic mutation found in collies and some other herding breeds that makes them more sensitive to ivermectin and similar medications, but that does not mean vets shouldn’t attempt the protocol.

Faster recovery times have another advantage for dog owners beyond seeing their pet return to normal. It reduces the time dogs need to spend in the veterinary clinic, which means lower vet bills. As Ms Bates points out, IV lipid emulsion is an inexpensive treatment, with potentially dramatic results, making ILE a sensible option for a critically ill animal.


Bates N, Chatterton J, Robbins C, Wells K, Hughes J, Stone M, Campbell A. Lipid infusion in the management of poisoning: a report of 6 canine cases. (2013). Accessed July 7, 2013.

Gussow, Leon. Lipid emulsion therapy for poisonings: a review. (2012). The Poison Accessed July 7, 2013.


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