We had an interesting case recently, PLEASE read on because it may be interesting for you too.
After doing the morning consults I sat down to do some of the necessary (if a little boring) paperwork. Before long though I was interrupted by an emergency. A labrador that had eaten something on a walk more than 2 hours earlier and was now shaking, panting, drooling and unstable on her feet. Based on the symptoms we suspected a neurotoxin, but what?!
First things first. Intra venous fluid was administered and blood tests were taken. The blood levels were all within normal limits so some causes could be ruled out, such as the dreaded anti-freeze which gives low calcium levels. A stomach torsion was quite unlikely since the dog had vomited and managed to bring up the stomach contents, and there was no bloated abdomen. So what were we dealing with here?
First we contacted the neighbouring practice as we had heard talk that they had seen some cases of intoxication lately, but that seemed to be based on rumours only. Next port of call, in an attempt to narrow down the cause of these symptoms, was to phone the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS). Based on the symptoms, the circumstances and the timing, we came away with a strong suspicion that it was mycotoxins.
These can be found in mouldy food/bread. And that is why I urged you to read till the end. Most people aren't aware how dangerous mycotoxins can be but it is definitely worth knowing about. More information can be found here.
Poisonings do not often occur intentionally, they are mostly accidental. In this case it is an accident that is very easy to occur, especially around bins and in areas where people feed birds and other wildlife. I hope this will serve as a warning to you all to be extra vigilant in these areas.
We adjusted the treatment accordingly, and tried her activated charcoal to help absorb toxins. However it can be a challenge to persuade an animal to eat it especially if they are feeling poorly! Apparently mouldy bread is much tastier.
The tremors and incoordination settled down and she was sent home. Hopefully she won't suffer any lasting effects from her indiscretion, but no, I don't think she will have learned her lesson. It is a lesson that is up to all of us to learn from. Please stay safe and be aware that next to the known poisonous substances like chocolate, raisins, onions etc., mouldy food can also be a serious threat to your beloved pets.