For the majority of us, dogs are our best friends, our companions and playful company when we are alone. To a lot of us, dogs become like our children in our homes. Knowing what to do in the event your dog is poisoned, might help you save that precious friends life...
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Dog poisoning in South Africa is a precursor by criminals for further crimes such as house robbery or burglary and rape at the same residence usually within 1 to 7 days later. Although it is something that is very common, very little information actually is available on the topic. The focus of this article is related to criminal poisoning only, with the intent to commit further crimes.
Some cases of dog poisoning reported is not related to poisoning of the animals with intent to commit further crimes although people might think otherwise. There are a lot of substances in and around the home that is poisonous to dogs that should be kept away from the animals like chocolates, raisins, onions, household medicines as well as household detergents and pesticides. Please contact your local vet for first-aid procedures in the event one of the above is suspected as the cause for your pet being ill, the procedures in this article is only related to certain poisoned by criminals whom intend to commit further crime…
The procedures in this article is only focused on dogs as well, and might not be relevant to other types of pets that you have at your residence.
Which poisons are most commonly used?
Criminals most frequently use organophosphates and carbamate type poisons (Aldicarb, Temik, also knownas Two Step and Rat poison). Organophosphates and Carbamate are both insecticides predominantly used in agricultural applications although domestic household applications do also exist.
Temik is the most commonly used of the poisons but various instances have been found where it was combined with other poisons as well. It is extremely toxic and as such has been classified as a restricted substance. Its distribution and use is very tightly regulated, although it seems like the measures taken is also highly ineffective.
Organophosphates is relatively common insecticides which appear in household insect sprays,rose and fruit tree sprays just to mention a few. Organophosphates were originally designed as biological weapons and American soldiers are regularly issued with Atropine and2-PAM injection kits when going into areas where chemical weapons are deemed to be a risk.
The rat poison that is used will most probably contain anticoagulants (blood thinners), but may also contain various other poisons in the mix. The reason being that the anticoagulants do not work as quickly and effectively always as the other poisons, and builds up in the animals body over a period of a few days. This however does not mean that your dog has to consume more of it to pass away due to its effects on the body.
Most poisons, excluding rat poison, is usually manufactured to have a very nasty taste and off-putting smell as a discouragement to ingestion. Unfortunately, these formulations have humans in mind and as a result is not so off-putting to your dogs. Anyone that spent some time with dogs will know enough that dogs are not easily discouraged by the same smells humans are and will eat or attempt to eat a lot of things that we find disgusting.
Identification and Presentation
Temik is easily identified as it comes in the form of tiny black or bluish/grey granules,similar to the look of gunpowder. Most rat poisons appear in either pelleted or caked forms. Other poisons are more difficult to identify as they come in much greater varieties. All the forms of poison are presented to the dogs with food, whether it be chicken pieces, red meat, sausages or wors or even mince. Fish, bread and maize meal is also known to have been used, as well as bones covered in a fatty substance which usually contain the poisons.
Signs and Symptoms
Usually the poisons used are extremely fast acting and deadly, even when only ingesting small amounts. Even if catching your dog in the act of ingesting the poison, there is literally no time to waste, especially at night when veterinary hospitals and institutions are closed and you need to phone the emergency vet. Don't wait for your dog to display symptoms,if you have only a slight suspicion or proof that the dog ingested poison, take it to the vet immediately. The following symptoms may appear:
- Profuse twitching of the skin
- Bruising – in the case where anticoagulants were used
- Vomiting – which may include blood in the case of anticoagulants being used
- Excessive salivation
- Excessive bronchial secretion – coughing up or vomiting slime
- Difficulty breathing
- Tremors and muscle twitching
- Temporary or partial paralysis
- Unconsciousness and inability to wake the animal
- Bleeding from nose and gums or wounds in the case where anticoagulants were used
- Acute blindness, in the case where anticoagulants were used
- Blood in the urine
Make sure you have your vet, as well as emergency veterinary hospital numbers stored on your phone.
- Large syringes (60ml)
- At least one of the following:
- high foam washing powder
- activated charcoal in granular form or tablet form
- Castor Oil (to help move the activated charcoal through the intestines)
The above will need to be administered in specific doses. Work out the dosage for each based on your dog's average weight and write it down. Put the paper in a clear plastic bag to prevent it from being damaged or smudged in the event of an emergency. Keep this article in there too for easy and quick reference. If you wish, you can measure and pre-package the dry items for the dogs as well and place it in the same emergency kit bag or container, which is stored in an easily accessible location, but also safe out of the way of children and the dogs. Review the contents regularly to ensure that medicines are within expiry dates.
If you are uncomfortable with, or feel unsafe with any of the procedures, rather leave them for the vet and get your dog there as quickly as possible.
- Phone the vet immediately and let them know you are on your way with a dog that was definitely or suspected poisoned.
- Immediately remove the dog, children and other persons from the suspected source and location of the suspected poison/poisoning. If you have to go indoors, choose a place with a tiled floor.
- If the dog is conscious, not struggling breathing and not having seizures, you should induce vomiting. If during the above process the dog develops any of the aforementioned symptoms, stop any treatment immediately and take your dog to the vet as quickly as possible.
- If you have tried to induce vomiting in your dog, without success, for at most 10 minutes, stop and take the dog to the vet immediately.
- Make sure your dog does not re-ingest the vomit.
- If you can, inspect the vomit visually for signs of the poison – it may be helpful if you can describe it firstly to your vet, and later to the police. The following methods are most effective:
- Force a ball of high foam washing powder down its throat.Prepare the ball with washing powder and a little water. The amount should be in relation to the size of the dog. (BE VERY CAREFUL WHEN YOU DO THIS, YOU MIGHT GET BITTEN - If it is not a small dog and the animal is not calm with you, rather just take the dog to the vet)
- Once you are sure that the dog’s stomach is empty, get your dog to swallow Activated Charcoal. The dosage is 0.5g/kg body weight (a 10kgdog would require 5g). Add between 5 and 25ml Castor Oil to the mix—about 5mlper 10kg or part thereof. The best way to get this done is using a granular or powdered charcoal product mixed into a slurry with a little water, fill into a large syringe, add Castor Oil and then squirt the mixture into the back of the dog’s mouth.
- Get your dog into the car and rush to the vet. If your dog is having convulsions, or is lethargic, somnolent, or unconscious, use a blanket or something similar as a stretcher. Be careful carrying a dog with convulsions as you might get bitten accidentally.
- Tell the vet what you have done from discovering the poisoning up to the point of entering the practice. Also try to remember when the poisoning was discovered, what symptoms presented and when, as well as your subjective judgement of how much of the poison your dog ingested, based on what you saw of the stomach content.
Notify your security company and the police as soon as possible after a dog poisoning at your premises has occurred, as well as notifying your local Community Policing Forum. This may be vital in getting emergency assistance as quickly as possible when needed and when the criminals do come back.
A follow-up article will be posted in the coming days providing information on what to do with the poisons etc and how to, or whom to get, to correctly dispose of it.
We are not veterinarians, medical professionals or experts on poisons. The information presented in this article and shared with you comes from experience and reading subject matter on the topic which is deemed trustworthy, as well as discussions with medical professionals and veterinarians when assisting with dog poisoning scenarios. We have taken care to ensure the accuracy of the information contained within this article as far as possible. The intent of this article is to help members of the community at having a better chance at success with saving their dog in the event of poisoning, unfortunately we cannot give guarantees that the above will save your beloved pet. We cannot accept any responsibility whatsoever for the effect of the application of the first aid measures suggested herein since the application thereof will be beyond our control and subject to the judgement of the person applying the said measures. The first aid measures suggested herein are not appropriate for all kinds of poisoning and they only apply to dogs. We cannot accept any responsibility whatsoever for the inappropriate application of the measures suggested.