Garbage toxicosis in dogs has several different names including garbage gut, bacterial food poisoning, as well as song bird fever, but they all have one thing in common; they are all potentially life threatening. As any dog owner can attest to, dogs will eat almost anything if they are given the chance. At some point in the life of almost every dog, they will get into your garbage or your neighbors garbage. While it may seem like an innocent enough adventure for a dog, it can very easily take their life as it can be that dangerous.
However, what is not well known to most owners is that this disease is Zoonotic, meaning it can rapidly be spread to humans. People at the highest risk of catching this disease from their dog include children, people with immune compromised systems, as well as the elderly.
Why it is dangerous:
When your dog does venture into the garbage, they are beginning a trek that may be the last adventure they ever take. Ingestion of spoiled food in most every case is full of contaminated bacteria as well as bacteria toxins that can very quickly cause your dog to go into shock. While most of the ventures may only cause mild forms of diarrhea or vomiting that will quickly run its course, if it is severe enough and does cause shock, the prognosis for your dog is very grim.
After they have ingested the contaminated food, your dog has entered into a very dangerous world of bacteria. The various forms include Streptococcusspp, Escherichia coli, salmonella spp, as well as Bacillus spp. These bacteria quickly enter into your dogs gastrointestinal tract and once there, can very quickly produce toxins that are absorbed into their blood stream. Once they have entered the blood, they can and do produce a myriad of different symptoms including shock, collapse, and in some cases, death.
Garbage toxicosis in dogs is much more common in dogs that are indoor-outdoor dogs or dogs that are living exclusively outdoors and allowed to roam. Indoor-outdoor dogs seem to have the highest rate of this very dangerous disease as once they smell garbage; they go to it as soon as they get a chance. It is also much more common in warm climates or during the hot summer months when food will spoil much more rapidly. Dogs can also get this disease from eating an affected dogs vomit or stool, as well as by simply licking an affected dog as it is that dangerous.
The symptoms from this disease usually start to appear within six to eight hours after ingestion, but if it severe enough, it they can occur as quickly as 15 minutes after ingestion.
The first symptom or sign that you will see is diarrhea, but with garbage toxicosis in dogs, it is different than most forms of diarrhea. It is usually extremely foul smelling and bloody. Vomiting follows very quickly as well as a very sudden fever. Fevers in dogs occur several times during their lifetime, but when it is very sudden it is always a sign that something is terribly wrong.
Once these signs occur, your dog will also become very weak as the disease is starting to circulate throughout their bloodstream. Once the levels of toxin become high enough, your dog may suddenly go into a seizure or worse yet; go into shock. If it reaches this stage, your dog may have very little chance of surviving.
Once you identify garbage toxicosis in your dog, the quicker you act the better chance your dog has of surviving. The first thing you will need to do is to contact your veterinarian. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, the first thing that is generally advised is to empty your dogs stomach. If the signs are severe, you will not have the time to take your dog into your veterinarian, but you should only induce vomiting if they instruct you to.
The most effective way to induce vomiting and thus emptying your dogs stomach is with Hydrogen Peroxide. All bottles will be labeled that this is toxic, but it is very safe for your dog as it will not stay in their stomach. You should only use three percent hydrogen peroxide, and give your dog one teaspoon for every ten pounds of body weight. If you are going to use an oral syringe, one teaspoon equals 5cc or 5 ml.
Once you have given the solution to your dog, walk them around and very gently shake their stomach.
This helps to mix the hydrogen peroxide with their stomach contents. If they do not vomit, it is still very safe to repeat the process one more time. In the vast majority of cases it will be effective the first time. Once your dog does vomit, save some of the contents and take it to your veterinarian for them to examine. However, if it does not work after the second attempt, you need to seek professional help as soon as possible.
However, it is very important to note, that if your dog is extremely weak, inducing vomiting may cause aspiration and will not be recommended by your professional. This is why it is so very important to contact either your veterinarian or an emergency veterinarian before you do anything. Syrup of Ipecac is extremely effective in inducing vomiting in children, but under no circumstances should you use it on your dog. It can be extremely dangerous and even more toxic than what you are trying to eliminate.
If the symptoms are not severe, activated charcoal is also very effective at minimizing the absorption of both the bacteria and toxins. Activated charcoal is a form of carbon that has been activated by exposing it to several oxidizing gases that include steam, oxygen, and acids. Because of its compounds, it is extremely effective at absorbing toxins. There are several forms you can buy from your veterinarian and it is a very good idea to keep both hydrogen peroxide and activated charcoal in your dogs emergency kit.
Once your dog has been stabilized and their stomach has been emptied, your veterinarian can than give them drugs that coat and sooth their GI tract and generally include Pepcid or Zantac knockoffs. In severe cases, a disease referred to as DIC or disseminated intravascular coagulation may occur, although it is quite rare.
Garbage toxicosis in dogs is a life threatening disease, but it is also one that can easily be prevented if you understand the symptoms and react very quickly. The odds that you will keep your dog out of garbage are very slim as dogs will always take their best shot at this new food every time they have a chance. However, being prepared and reacting quickly may save them from the potential disaster that awaits them.