FARM dogs are exposed to a large number of potential toxins and it can be hard for owners to know what to do if their dog has been poisoned.
At the Australian Sheep Veterinarians Conference recently, Dr Martin Combs, from Charles Sturt University, discussed the toxins that farm dogs are most commonly exposed to and ways to treat a dog that has ingested a poisonous substance.
“It can be quite scary for an owner when they realise their dog has ingested something poisonous, especially if they’re in a remote location where access to veterinary care is delayed,” he said.
“Rat poison is probably the most common toxin that dogs are exposed to on a farm. Another toxin is sodium monofluoroacetate (1080), which is used in the control of foxes and wild dogs.
“Signs of 1080 poisoning vary from weakness, drooling and vomiting to running, howling/barking, severe agitation and even seizures,” Dr Combs said.
“If an owner suspects their dog has been poisoned, they should call their veterinarian. In instances where veterinary care is not immediately accessible, an owner may need to induce vomiting.
“Washing soda crystals or hydrogen peroxide have been used to help induce vomiting, so it might be worthwhile for farmers in isolated areas to keep this on hand as a back-up in emergency situations.”
However, Dr Combs said this should only be done after first seeking veterinary advice because it’s not always appropriate to induce vomiting and it can do more harm than good if not done correctly.
Dr Combs said zinc phosphide has been used to control mouse plagues and if a dog ingests it, owners may notice a garlic or fishy smell emanating from the dog. It’s important that those around the dog take measures to protect their own health as an infected dog is likely to release a toxic gas.
“Similar to 1080 poisoning, when treating zinc phosphide poisoning, unless the dog is experiencing tremors or seizures, inducing vomiting might be the most appropriate immediate action that an owner can take after seeking veterinary advice.
“Following vomiting, 15-45ml margarine or olive/corn/vegetable oil fed on a piece of bread to a conscious animal or a liquid antacid can then be given to help reduce the production of toxic gas,” Dr Combs said.
“There are some other common toxins that farm dogs are exposed to including grapes, which can lead to kidney failure.
“Also, if a dog ingests the faeces or the feed of farm animals that have been treated with anti-parasitic medications, the dog could become seriously ill. In these cases, the owners should seek veterinary advice with treatment to commence as soon as possible.”
Source: Australian Veterinary Association.