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We have just finished our weekly run down of the Top 10 causes of pet poisoning – as reported to the Veterinary Poisons Information Service*. However, there are some other sources of poisoning that didn’t make it into the top 10, but we should be aware of all the same!
FUNGI: There are around 4000 different species of fungi in the UK today. The terms ‘mushroom’ and ‘toadstool’ are not adequate to define whether a type of fungi is poisonous or not. Without being an expert in fungi it can very difficult to tell them apart. If you suspect your pet has eaten fungi ask your vet for advice as many can cause kidney and / or liver damage. The only way to identify the species for sure would be to take a sample (using gloves and with great care) and send this to an expert for analysis.
BLUE GREEN ALGAE: This type of algae is found in fresh, brackish and marine bodies of water throughout the UK and abroad. They can form massive growths or ‘blooms’ – most commonly in late spring, summer and early autumn. Ingestion of blue green algae can result in rapid death! Animals who have swallowed the algae may have vomiting, diarrhoea, breathing difficulties, convulsions and may become comatosed. Liver and kidney damage can also result. If you think your pet may have ingested blue green algae take your pet to a vet immediately.
If your dog is a keen swimmer take care during the warmer months to check for algae growths in ponds etc. If in doubt, keep him out! Responsible land owners / councils will display signs warning of the presence of the algae. Do not ignore the warnings. Remember, your insurance policy may not settle a claim if you have not taken reasonable care.
XYLITOL: This is a ‘e-numbered’ food additive (code E967) and it is used as an artificial sweetener typically found in sugar-free chewing gum and sweets. It is also becoming more common to find it in human pharmaceutical products such as nicotine gum and also some medications. Xylitol is extremely harmful to dogs and can cause low blood sugar and liver damage.
* The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) is an internationally renowned poisons information service which provides the veterinary profession with 24 hour support and advice on the diagnosis and management of poisoned animals. They advise on approximately 25,000 cases in total per year. For more information about the VPIS please click here to visit the VPIS website. If you suspect your pet may have been poisoned, come into contact with any kind of toxin or otherwise appears unwell please contact your Vet in the first instance.