Home rapid antigen tests for COVID-19 might be accidentally poisoning pets

Consider it a sign of the pandemic times: At home rapid tests for COVID-19 could be accidentally poisoning people’s pets.

Australian Animal Poisons Helpline issued a warning this month of a spike in calls about dogs swallowing COVID-19 rapid antigen test (RATs) buffer solutions.

“As millions of these tests are now being dispersed, we anticipate that calls to the Helpline regarding pets ingesting them will continue to rise,” the Helpline explained.

Some of the solutions used to help detect the virus include a chemical known is sodium azide. In large amounts it’s highly toxic, which means the amount in each test is so low it’s unlikely to pose a significant risk in the vast majority of cases, the group said.

But it doesn’t mean it’s harmless.

“The actual risk of poisoning in any individual case will depend on the amount of sodium azide ingested and the weight of the animal involved,” the Helpline added. “Very small animals, or those animals that ingest a number of vials of buffer solution could possibly be at risk of poisoning.”

Animal Welfare Victoria help fund the the campaign to raise awareness about RATs and pets.

Still, that’s why the organization, which provides free advice and information, wants pet owners in Australia and New Zealand to be careful about properly disposing of — and storing — their RATs.

But if your pet does get into a kit, don’t hesitate to call so the experts can assess the animal’s exposure and if they need urgent veterinary care.

Photos: Australia Animal Poisons Helpline

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Recovering newspaper reporter.

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