VETS are warning of an "alarming spike" in the number of dogs absorbing HRT from their owners.
Animal hospital, North Downs Specialist Referrals (NDSR), in Surrey, has diagnosed five pooches with hormonal replacement therapy (HRT) poisoning this year.
Exposure to the drug could prove fatal for some dogs.
Sue Burgess, from East Sussex, was "mystified" when her Jack Russell Rosie appeared show symptoms.
The dog owner had just started using HRT gel a few weeks earlier.
Shortly after, the unfortunate pup began showing "typical symptoms" of HRT poisoning, which included increased sexual attractiveness to male dogs, vulval enlargement and hair loss, the vets said.
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Gerry Polton, hospital director at NDSR, said: “Secondary HRT exposure to animals typically occurs through exposure to gels and creams applied to their owners’ forearms, a recommended site of application according to product data sheets."
Last year, there was a 35 per cent increase in NHS prescriptions for HRT.
HRT is a treatment which uses synthetic hormones to relieve menopausal symptoms, like hot flushes, anxiety and vaginal dryness.
It comes in many different forms, from pills and patches to rings and gels.
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Gerry added: “We would urge dog owners using HRT in this manner (gel) to be aware of the possibility of secondary exposure to their pets."
It's thought that dogs come into contact with the cream or gel on places where there is less hair, like the belly, he explained.
In most cases secondary oestrogen exposure can be treated simply by ensuring the dog has no further contact with the drug.
“It is, however, important to be aware that more serious adverse events, such as bone marrow suppression, can be seen with oestrogen exposure, which may be irreversible and ultimately fatal," Gerry said.
"Fortunately, we have yet to see this as a result of secondary exposure to HRT products at NDSR though," he added.
Sue has since switched to a non-gel version of HRT and said Rosie is now "much better" and "not attracting the boys anymore".
Symptoms of HRT poisoning in dogs
Symptoms associated with hormone replacement poisoning vary depending on the dog’s sex
- Swollen vulva (even if spayed)
- Bloody discharge (even if spayed)
- Hair loss
- Extreme attraction to female dogs
- Swollen mammary glands (breasts)
- Abnormally small penis
- Shrinking of the tests
- Hair loss
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