Most of us suffer from the occasional “tummy bug” when we’ve eaten something dodgy. It usually only affects us for a couple of days and is not too severe. Anyone who experiences severe food poisoning will know this is not the same thing. Dogs suffer dog food poisoning in a very similar way to this.

As we know dogs have a few bad habits. Given a chance, they will eat well past the point their stomachs are full. Dogs are scavengers by nature. They often go through rubbish bins and scavenge questionable items like dog food. Dogs may also come across road-kill while on walks. Tucking into dead animals is an extremely high risk because they are likely to be full of harmful salmonella bacteria. Birds also carry the bacteria. Hence you should stop your dog from rummaging around in the bird feeder.

The examples above can all cause a mild, short-term “tummy bug.” Dogs can recover quickly from the occasional mild food poisoning. Other times it is hugely debilitating and potentially severe. In the case of the latter, acute dog food poisoning requires veterinary treatment. This gives your dog the best chance of survival and recovery.

We are going to look at food poisoning in dogs in more detail. We will explain precisely what dog food poisoning is and how it develops. Also, we will look at the signs of dog food poisoning and how best to manage and treat your four-legged friend.


What is Dog Food Poisoning?

Poisoning in dogs often happens when different types of bacteria infect and grow on the diet. Some of the most common dog food bacteria are salmonella, E.coli, and listeria. Certain dog foods are more likely to carry harmful bacteria than others. These include meat, seafood, eggs, and even cooked rice.

There is a wide range of potential foodstuff which is toxic to dogs. One of the most readily available sources of poisoning is chocolate! It contains an alkaloid ingredient, called theobromine, which is also present in all products containing cocoa. The amount of theobromine varies depending on the type and quality of the chocolate. Rich, high quality, dark chocolate contains much more than milk chocolate or artificially chocolate flavored candy. Humans can naturally metabolize theobromine fast enough to negate its toxic properties. Dogs metabolize it much more slowly, amplifying its destructive properties and leading to poisoning.

Please note, apart from a few exceptions like chocolate, most dog foods are not the cause of the risk themselves. It is more commonly due to the way the dog food is stored, handled and prepared. It can lead to all sorts of other health issues like gastroenteritis. Also, it is also very contagious, meaning it can be passed on to other dogs and even people or other pets too.

Some food requires cold temperatures to render bacteria dormant. Pet owner should keep dog food in the fridge, of course, remain refrigerated. The preparation must also be done carefully. You must cook dog food at the right temperature to kill any bacteria present.

Not all dog foods which are common culprits of poisoning are likely to carry bacteria initially. It is able to grow over time and also transfer between food products during preparation or storage.


Signs of Food Poisoning in Dogs

The time it takes for dog food poisoning signs to show is very variable. However, in most cases, it does not develop immediately after eating. Most types of bacteria take anything from eight to seventy-two hours to present themselves. It can be challenging to remember what your dog ate a couple days earlier which may be causing the sickness. If your dog appears sick shortly after eating the cause is unlikely to be food poisoning.

It is essential to distinguish between a short-term “tummy bug” and more severe dog food poisoning. The latter can be critical and will require attention from your vet. Your dog may occasionally vomit a couple of times during the day. If otherwise ok and eating and drinking usually, it is often best practice to watch your dog and wait. This can work alongside intermittent fasting to allow their stomach and other organs to relax.

On the other hand, the following signs display more severe dog food poisoning. Your dog may continually vomit and also experience persistent diarrhea. They may be unwilling or unable to drink. Your dog could experience discomfort and showing signs of pain. Examples include in their verbal sounds or a general inability to get comfortable.

Indications of dog food poisoning are very similar to those in people. This includes vomiting, diarrhea and the inability to keep food and water down. This could be accompanied by fever, shivers, abdominal cramps, headaches and general sickness. Your dog is likely to have stomach pain and generally feel weak, ill and uncomfortable. If symptoms like these are present and persistent, food poisoning is highly expected.


Treating and Managing Your Dog

If you think your dog may have dog food poisoning, it’s critical to seek veterinary treatment as soon as possible. Furthermore, it is essential they should stay away from any people, children, and other pets. The vet will most likely prescribe antibiotics to help fight off the bacterial infection. It is essential to finish the antibiotic prescription even if your dog’s condition improves. This is to ensure any lasting bacteria is killed and to prevent it from becoming antibiotic resistant. This could reinfect your dog, and a secondary infection could be much more severe than the initial one.

Medical treatment may involve an inpatient stay, especially if your dog is dehydrated or presenting with very acute symptoms. Keeping your dog in the surgery allows their condition to be carefully monitored. If necessary, the vet can give them IV fluid therapy, ensuring they don’t get too dehydrated.

It is strongly advised to clean everything your dog has come into contact with thoroughly. This can easily be done using bleach carefully diluted with water and warm soap. It helps sterilize all the places and objects your pet may have touched and infected. You should also put all your dog’s bedding and toys in the washing machine. Anything that cannot be cleaned should be disposed of carefully. Finally, don’t forget to wash your hands after touching your dog and anything they have come in contact with.

Severe cases of poisoning are more dangerous for puppies as their immune systems are not fully developed. Fortunately, dog food poisoning is not usually fatal with mature dogs.


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