I have to admit I used to feed food I wouldn’t eat to my dog. Spoiled ham, toss it to the dog. Moldy cheese? The dog loves it. This was before I learned that mold actually poses a danger to dogs.
Despite their ability to eat raw meat and dead animals, mold is dangerous for them. It can cause mycotoxin poisoning.
What happens if my dog eats moldy food?
Dogs seem to be willing to eat nearly anything. They are predators, but they aren’t opposed to scavenging in the wild either. Domestic dogs aren’t as likely to eat animal carcasses, but they can still run into trouble if they eat moldy or spoiled food.
Mycotoxin poisoning can make your dog very sick. Severe cases can even be fatal. Symptoms of the toxins can last for up to 5 days. Seizures and tremors are the most common symptoms, but symptoms vary based on the type of mold.
Other symptoms of mold poisoning include disorientation or loss of balance, fever, and abdominal pain. They may also be very restless or anxious. Dogs experiencing this may not be able to sit still or relax.
Tremogenic mycotoxins are the most common cause of mold poisoning for dogs. It’s found on moldy bread, dairy products, and nuts. The mold is actually a type of penicillin. Penicillin was the first antibiotic, but these types of penicillin are harmful instead of beneficial.
The symptoms of this type of mold poisoning include vomiting, tremors, and fever. If the dog eats a large amount of the mold, it can be fatal without treatment due to seizures.
Aflotoxins are another type that causes issues for dogs. These aflatoxins are produced by aspergillus fungi. These toxins are processed by the liver. This can lead to liver cell death.
One of the first signs of liver cell death is a yellow appearance, particularly in the whites of the eyes. Other symptoms include nausea, loss of appetite, and bloody stool. Liver cell death can be fatal if it’s severe. It can also have long term health consequences for your dog.
Fusarium mold can be found on old or contaminated pet food. It contains trichothecene mycotoxins. This will cause vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
Water mold is the last thing you expect ot make your dog sick. However, if your dog drinks moldy standing water, they can become very ill. This typically occurs in the warm gulf states, because these molds can’t withstand freezing temperatures.
This type of mold toxicity is called Pythiosis. The symptoms include chronic diarrhea, bloody diarrhea or stools, vomiting, and lethargy. They may also develop an abdominal mass and excessive drooling.
Unfortunately, this type of mold toxicity can be fatal. It is difficult to treat, so fast treatment is essential for the best outcome.
How Long Does it Take a Dog to Get Sick From Mold?
The symptoms of mold poisoning can begin immediately. The type of mold found on bread can cause vomiting almost immediately. Other types may not cause symptoms for a few hours, or even a few days.
How Are Dogs Exposed to Moldy Food?
There are a few ways dogs are commonly exposed to moldy food. One way is from well meaning owners, who aren’t aware of the risks. Dogs love eating whatever we don’t, or can’t eat.
In some cases, this is ok. Tossing your pooch the last bit of steak that you can’t finish is perfectly ok. However, when it comes to moldy food, feeding it to your pooch puts them at risk.
Of course, dogs can get into plenty of trouble on their own. They often get mold poisoning without help from their owners. They may stumble upon moldy food in trash cans or streets.
Your dog doesn’t realize these foods can be harmful, so they eat them. Then, they can become sick.
Lastly, if you own or live near a compost heap, you’ll need to ensure your dogs can’t get to it. A compost heap contains moldy food by design. It’s purpose is to break down food scraps, and mold is a big part of this function.
What to do if my dog eats moldy food?
If your dog eats moldy food, there are some things you need to do. In most cases, treatment for stomach upset focuses on relieving the symptoms. However, this may not be the wisest course of action for mold poisoning.
Watch for Symptoms
The first thing you’ll want to do is watch your pooch for symptoms. If they begin having diarrhea or vomiting, it’s best to contact your vet or bring them in.
Many cases of stomach upset can be treated at home. However, mold poisoning can be very dangerous to your dog, so don’t try to handle it on your own if your dog becomes sick.
Diet After Eating Moldy Food
Assuming your pooch is not having serious vomiting or diarrhea, a temporary diet change may be all you need to get them back to normal.
The best diet is chicken and rice. Plain cooked rice and boiled unseasoned boneless chicken are all you need. Give them a 2:1 ratio of rice to chicken. For example, if you give them 2/3 a cup rice, give them 1/3 a cup chicken.
You can also give them unflavored plain yogurt. This will help support their natural gut bacteria, which can help them fight off any mold toxins.
After 1 to 2 days, you can gradually transition them back to regular food.
When Mold Toxicity is an Emergency
Mold toxicity can be an emergency. If your dog displays signs of mold toxicity, this is a veterinary emergency.
Symptoms include severe or bloody diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and tremors. Disorientation or loss of coordination can also occur. If you notice any of these symptoms, bring your dog in immediately.
What to Do If You Aren’t Sure If Your Dog Needs Veterinary Care
Your dog seems fine, or perhaps they’ve had mild stomach upset. You are concerned, but you aren’t sure if your pooch needs a vet. What do you do?
You have two options. The first is to call your vet. They will ask you for details about the situation, and let you know what to do next. They may recommend that you monitor them at home, or bring them in for a checkup.
The other option is to contact the Pet Poison Helpline. They are available 24/7, and have a vast database of potential toxins. They will factor in information including your dog’s size and age.
They can then recommend a treatment plan. If they recommend you take your dog ot the vet, they can work with the vet to form and implement the proper treatment.
It is a fee-based service, but it’s certainly less expensive than an unneeded trip to the vet. It’s also much less expensive than waiting to seek treatment for your pooch, allowing symptoms to worsen.
More importantly, it can provide you with the knowledge and peace of mind that you need.