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This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

Farm animals may be poisoned with chromium following industrial pollution accidents

Chromium is a trace element that is used in the chemical processes of metal-coating. Accidental contamination of the environment, especially water sources,  can occur leading to signs of toxicity in livestock, especially cattle, but rarely sheep, goats and poultry.

Signs of chromium poisoning are non-specific and similar to those seen with other heavy metal toxicity, including :

  • Inappetance
  • Depression
  • Diarrhoea (dysentery)
  • Dyspnoea
  • Paralysis
  • Death within a few hours

At postmortem ulceration of the oral cavity and gastrointestinal tract may be found, with evidence of acute gastroenteritis. The diagnosis is confirmed by analysis of biopsies taken from the liver or kidney. In cattle 600-800 mg/kg body weight can be lethal, and in calves 30-40 mg/kg daily intake for a month can also be lethal. 

There is no specific antidote for chromium poisoning, and no treatment has been reported to be effective.


Updated January 2016