SPCA New Zealand

SPCA’s warning to pet owners over toxic substance in some Covid-19 RAT kits

28 February 2022
SPCA’s warning to pet owners over toxic substance in some Covid-19 RAT kits

SPCA is urging pet owners to take extra precautions when using or disposing of used Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs), as some may contain a substance that can be toxic to animals.

The warning comes after Australia’s Animal Poison Helpline experienced an increase in calls from concerned pet owners whose animals, particularly dogs, had ingested the substance.

Some RATs containthe chemical sodium azide, which is added as a preservative. Although sodium azide is highly toxic, each test contains a very small amount. While the tests pose no real risk to humans, smaller animals or pets that ingest the contents of multiple tests are at greater risk.

While RATs are only just beginning to be more widely used in New Zealand, SPCA is asking pet owners not to leave the tests where their animals may be able to reach them.

“Many pet owners will know how easy it can be for our animals to get into things they’re not supposed to, which is why it’s important for us to make sure we dispose of these tests properly and responsibly,” says SPCA Scientific Officer Dr Alison Vaughan. “Sodium azide is toxic and small animals, or those who ingest multiple tests, could be at risk of poisoning. While sodium azide is likely to cause only mild, self-limiting symptoms such as hypotension (low blood pressure) in larger dogs, smaller animals may experience more serious symptoms.”

Anyone who is concerned that their pet may have accidentally swallowed or chewed one of these vials should contact their vet or the Pet Poison Helpline (0800 869 738) immediately.

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