Has my dog been poisoned? Signs & symptoms of poisoning in dogs
- by DR Roxanne Jones
It’s a terrifying thought: “Has my dog been poisoned?”, but the reality is that in South Africa, malicious poisoning is something that can and does happen to our pets.
In many cases in SA, the poison used is a pesticide called Temik, also known as 2 Step.
2 Step/Temik poisoning in dogs
This is the most common poison used on dogs. It’s an insecticide that’s easily purchased and highly toxic. Only a small amount is needed to kill a dog or cat. The active ingredient is called Aldicarb. Other poisons are occasionally used.
Two Step looks like small black granules, and if you squash these granules, you’ll find that they’re white inside. Usually, the poison is hidden in some food and thrown over your gate.
It’s more common for dogs to be poisoned in this way than cats, as most dogs will sniff out something delicious and gobble it down. Occasionally a cat may lick a poisoned item, but this isn’t as common. Whichever animal it affects, it’s highly poisonous and lethal if not treated immediately.
How can I tell if my dog has been poisoned?
If your dog goes from perfectly healthy to deathly ill in the blink of an eye, there’s a good chance he’s been poisoned. Dogs who are poisoned become extremely ill extremely quickly, presenting with symptoms such as:
- Weakness – he may even collapse
- Muscle tremors, which look like worms crawling under the skin
- Watery diarrhea
- Tiny, pinpoint-sized pupils
If ignored or untreated, these symptoms will lead to the death of your pet. If your dog has been sick for longer than a day, then poisoning of this nature is not likely: animals that are poisoned usually die within a few hours of ingesting the poison.
What should I do if I suspect my pet has been poisoned?
You need to get your pet to the vet as fast as you canIf treatment is started early, the prognosis for recovery is good. If however the poisoning is on caught later on, and your pet is in the advanced stages of being affected, his odds of survival begin to decrease significantly.
It’s important to bear in mind that some dogs will recover quickly, with few to no side effects, while others may suffer side effects for a week or more after poisoning. Depending on your dog’s recovery, a lengthy hospital stay may be on the cards.
Is there anything I can do at home if my pet is poisoned?
Not really. You need to get your pet to the vet as quickly as you possibly can, and no time should be wasted.
Phone your vet’s rooms while you are on the way and let them know you have an emergency, that you suspect poisoning in your pet, and that you’re on your way.
All other pets not affected should be moved to an area where there is no chance of them coming into contact with poisoned bait, and where there is no vomit.
When you get home from the vet, all vomit needs to be cleaned up immediately. The vomit will contain poison and if other pets lick it, they can be poisoned too. Exercise caution when cleaning up, and wear protective gloves. These poisonous substances can be toxic to humans as well as animals.
Can activated charcoal help my pet?
Maybe, but it is in no way a treatment for poisoning.
To buy more time, you can give your pet activated charcoal if you have it at home. This will only have an effect if your pet is showing very mild clinical signs. Don’t waste time doing this: do it fast and still hurry to the vet. The activated charcoal is NOT a treatment, but it may buy you a little extra time. If your dog is already vomiting, it won’t have any effect, as it will only be regurgitated.
We hope you’ll never have to experience this awful act of cruelty. However, knowledge is the best defense against poisoning, and hopefully this article has helped to prepare you if this were ever to occur. Armed with the right information, you have the best chance at helping your pet survive a malicious act.
You should also read about twisted stomach in dogs – a potentially lethal illness with a quick onset that usually affects larger dogs.
Here’s wishing your pet only happy, healthy and happy hours outdoors!