Shotgun Pellets Found in a Dog

No Need for Concern-No Toxic Risk


When our shelter rescue dog joined our family recently, we noticed shotgun pellets imbedded in several locations on his body.  He must have led a colorful life before coming into our family.  If these pellets are lead, is there any danger long-term of them leaching lead into his body and causing harm?  Should they all be removed?  Any danger if they are steel pellets.


Dr. Nichol:

Remember the old Western movies when a wounded gunslinger would take a belt of whiskey and then bite a bullet while his comrade sterilized a knife over the fire and then dug out the slug? You don’t? Well pardner, I guess that makes me, and at least a few of my readers, fossils.


According to Dr. Alice Wolf, veterinary internal medicine specialist, the answer is no. “Most shotgun pellets now are steel but even if lead, unless they are in the stomach, they do not cause systemic toxicosis.”

The body encapsulates BBs like this in fibrous tissue and essentially walls them off. They are incidental findings that we see occasionally on x-rays taken for unrelated purposes. My only concern would be a hassle at airport security.