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Find information on animal health topics, written for the veterinary professional.

Metabolism of Poisons

By Barry R. Blakley, DVM, PhD, Professor, Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan ; Rob Bildfell, DVM, MSc, DACVP, Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University ; William D. Black, MSc, DVM, PhD, Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph ; Herman J. Boermans, DVM, MSc, PhD, Professor of Toxicology, Director Toxicology Program, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph ; Cecil F. Brownie, DVM, PhD, DABVT, DABFE, DABFM, FACFEI, Emeritus Professor, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University ; Raymond Cahill-Morasco, MS, DVM, New, SeaPort Veterinary Hospital, Gloucester, MA ; Keith A. Clark, DVM, PhD, Retired Director, Zoonosis Control Division, Texas Department of Health ; Gregory F. Grauer, DVM, MS, DACVIM, Professor and Jarvis Chair of Small Animal Internal Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University ; Sharon M. Gwaltney-Brant, DVM, PhD, DABVT, DABT, Toxicology Consultant, Veterinary Information Network (VIN) and Adjunct Faculty, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois ; Larry G. Hansen, PhD, Professor, Department of Veterinary Biosciences, University of Illinois ; Safdar A. Khan, DVM, MS, PhD, DABVT, Director of Toxicology Research, ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, Urbana, Illinois ; Garrick C. M. Latch, MASc, PhD, Consultant ; Gavin L. Meerdink, DVM, DABVT, Clinical Professor, Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois ; Lisa A. Murphy, VMD, Veterinary Poison Information Specialist, ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center ; Frederick W. Oehme, DVM, PhD, Professor of Toxicology, Pathobiology, Medicine and Physiology, Comparative Toxicology Laboratories, Kansas State University ; Gary D. Osweiler, DVM, MS, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University ; Mary M. Schell, DVM, DABVT, DABT, Senior Toxicologist, ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, Urbana, Illinois ; David G. Schmitz, DVM, MS, DACVIM (LA), Visiting Associate Professor, Department of Veterinary Large Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University ; Norman R. Schneider, DVM, MSc, DABVT, Veterinary Toxicologist, University of Nebraska ; Cheryl L. Waldner, DVM, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan

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Poisons can be absorbed via the digestive tract, skin, lungs, eyes, mucous membranes (such as those of the nose or eye), mammary glands, and uterus, as well as from sites of injection. Toxic effects may be local, or the poison can be absorbed and spread by way of the bloodstream. Some poisons are excreted by the kidneys. Others are excreted in the bile and collect in fat deposits. Still others are excreted in milk. In most cases, the body attempts to detoxify the poison. The liver is most often the location of this metabolic process. Unfortunately, in some cases when the poison is metabolized, it is broken down into compounds that are more toxic than the original compound.