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UC Davis News: Don’t give potassium iodide to your pets

By Gary Bogue
Friday, March 18th, 2011 at 6:05 am in Cats, dogs, Pets, Radiation & Pets.

Family pets by Karl Nielsen, Benicia, CA
Kiki & Newman Xmas 12

I just received the News release below cautioning pet owners NOT to give potassium iodide tablets to their pets. Please read it carefully. It’s important. Thanks. /Gary

University of California, Davis
March 17, 2011


Pet owners anticipating the possible movement to the West Coast of radioactive material from Japan’s damaged nuclear power plants should not give their dogs, cats or other pets potassium iodide tablets, cautions a UC Davis veterinary cancer researcher.

“At this point there is no risk to pets in California stemming from radiation released from the tragedy that continues to unfold in Japan,” said Michael Kent, a faculty veterinarian who specializes in radiation cancer therapy.

Family pets by Karl Nielsen, Benicia, CA
Kiki & Newman Xmas 12

He noted that UC Davis’ William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital has been receiving dozens of phone calls daily this week from pet owners concerned about possible radiation health risks to their pets.

“While potassium iodide might help protect dogs, cats and other pets, as it would people, from the risks of radiation exposure in the unlikely event that radioactive iodine reaches here in appreciable levels, giving it ahead of time carries risks and would be ill advised,” Kent said.

He cautioned that side effects for pets taking potassium iodide — especially if they consume too much — include severe allergic reactions; gastrointestinal upsets including vomiting, diarrhea and anorexia; decreased normal thyroid function; and damage to the heart.
At high enough levels, potassium iodide can even cause death.

His recommendations mirror a March 15 public advisory from the California Department of Public Health, which warned Californians to not take potassium iodide as a precautionary measure:

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2 Responses to “UC Davis News: Don’t give potassium iodide to your pets”

  1. Jess Says:

    Thanks for addressing this issue. Even though the media keep telling us there are no significant health risks, usually they are referring to the human risk, and I’m worried about our non-human friends who are much smaller and live and eat and drink outdoors.

    One of the experts on KQED’s Forum this morning said that the fact is, there is no “safe” dose of radiation, and that California vegetables could potentially be affected. My cat is in the habit of going out in the back yard daily and eating copious amounts of grass. As I write this we’re having a heavy rain downpour and there are news reports that the “plume” would also be reaching our coast today…How can I know if it’s really safe to let my 10-pound feline friend outside to chow down on grass that has been rain-soaked? (Actually, the guy on Forum said the harmful substances would be present more on the order of 60 years, not several days.)

    My cat will hate me if I deny him his backyard outings, but it is hard to know what to do. It is awfully creepy to think that my cat–or anyone’s cat, or the birds or lizard or frogs–could also be casualties of a disaster 5000 away.

  2. Jon Sowa Says:

    Hi Gary!!
    No one should ever dose themselves or any animals, companion or otherwise, with Potassium Iodide, unless there is an imminent danger of radioactive exposure, or unless they or the animals have actually been exposed. In that case, time is critical and the faster the better. Once exposure has occurred, you only have four hours or less to take or administer the Potassium Iodide to get the protective effect. After four hours, the benefits are greatly diminished. That is why the Dept. of Homeland Security( recommends that people should “Consider keeping potassium iodide in your emergency kit, and learn what the appropriate doses are for each of your family members and pets”. I think that it is prudent to have Potassium Iodide on hand for both yourself and your pets. It is inexpensive and available in pill form for people (IOSAT at and for pets as a carefully formulated powdered form (PETSHIELD-KI at http://WWW.KI4PETS.COM) .You should always hope for the best and prepare for the worst. In this case, it isn’t hysterics to be prepared. You can’t always rely on what is reported.

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