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1:07 AM   October 23, 2014
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Watch Out for These Metals

When consumed in sufficient amounts, metals in jewelry made for both people and pets can cause a variety of health concerns. A customer whose pet has a history of chewing or curiously exploring new objects with their mouth should be informed of these risks up front.

Parrots are, by far, at the highest risk for metal ingestion. Many have a penchant for examining earrings and other jewelry while perched atop their owner’s shoulders. Their acute sensitivity to heavy metal exposure, particularly zinc, causes a wide range of health problems from digestive impairment to organ system failure.

Zinc toxicity among psittacines is one of the most deadly and preventable hazards facing pet bird owners. Though these animals need trace amounts of zinc in their diet for healthy organ system function, even small amounts exceeding that requirement cause severe health issues. When metal beads or flakes of metal plating containing zinc are ingested by birds the toxin quickly accumulates in the liver and pancreas where, over time, it can cause severe organ impairment.

Though less common, zinc toxicity can occur in younger dogs and cats when they ingest foreign bodies containing the metal.

Lead is also used sometimes in jewelry base metals in order to make them more bendable and to give the finished piece a heavier feel. It is less costly than other metals like zinc, and is also used as a stabilizer in many plastics.

Other heavy metal poisonings can occur when sufficient amounts of the following metals are consumed:  Aluminum, Cadmium, Chromium, Cobalt, Copper, Lead, Lithium, Manganese, Mercury, Silver, Zinc, Barium, Bismuth, Gold, Iron, Selenium, Phosphorous, Platinum, Tin, Nickel, and Thallium.

Find out which metals your pet jewelry items contain – whether marketed to people or their pets. Most manufacturers can furnish a metal analysis report of the percentages of metals their products contain. Apprizing your customers of the risks, or lack thereof, concerning these metals helps put their mind at ease concerning product safety.

Treatments for heavy metal exposure do exist and are most successful when exposure is discovered early. If pet owners suspect their animals have swallowed any jewelry, encourage them to seek out medical treatment. Heavy metals in the digestive tract appear as bright white flakes in x-rays – the only way to definitively discover the severity of a potentially fatal exposure.

Encourage consumers to frequently inspect their jewelry and any jewelry they purchase for their pets. Product integrity, which prevents pieces of metal from becoming accidentally ingested, is the key to avoiding heavy metal toxicity. <HOME>


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