Dr. Mark is a veterinarian with over 40 years of experience in the field. He works with dogs, cats, exotics, and livestock.
"Nic sick" is a phrase used in humans that are nauseous and have other symptoms from being dosed with nicotine, usually over some period of time as a result of too many e-cigs. With dogs, and sometimes cats, things are a lot worse.
Cats are just as susceptible to nicotine poisoning as dogs, but puppies are far more likely to chew and swallow a convenient pack of cigarettes, loose cigarette butts, or those tasty e-cig capsules. Nicotine patches are also dangerous, and sugar-free nicotine gum will poison and maybe kill your dog because of the nicotine and xylitol.
Symptoms of Nicotine Poisoning in Animals
Dogs and cats with nicotine poisoning are first overly active, since nicotine is a stimulant, but later on they start drooling excessively, stumble around, start vomiting and have diarrhea, and then finally develop seizures. The toxic dose in dogs and cats is only 0.5 to 1 mg per pound, so a little Maltese puppy will get sick and may even die after one eating one cigarette or part of a flavored e-cigarette cartridge. (1)
What to Do If You Think Your Dog Has Nicotine Poisoning
If your dog starts bouncing around excessively, check his pupils and see if they are abnormally tiny even in the dark. The only thing you can do if you suspect nicotine poisoning is take him to your regular vet or an emergency clinic. There he or she can be put on fluids, have their stomach pumped, and have a catheter placed so that they can be given medications to stop seizures if they develop.
If the dose was not high enough to kill your dog, and seizures are controlled to prevent permanent brain damage, your dog should be okay the next day.
- Vig M. M. (1990). Nicotine poisoning in a dog. Veterinary and human toxicology, 32(6), 573–575. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2264269/
This article is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from your veterinarian. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2022 Mark dos Anjos DVM