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Most of us have suffered from the occasional dodgy tummy when we’ve eaten something questionable, and this is usually relatively mild and only affects us for a day or so. While we often write this off as having had a mild bout of food poisoning, anyone who has actually been acutely ill with true food poisoning will quickly point out that it is not the same thing! This is much the same as dogs-dogs have a terrible tendency to eat well past the point of fullness if given the chance, and to eat and scavenge some highly questionable items, which can all lead to a mild, short-term upset stomach too.
However, just as genuine food poisoning can of course affect people and be hugely debilitating and potentially very serious, so too is the same true for dogs. While generally very hardy and able to recover quickly from the odd bout of dodgy guts, it is important to understand that dogs can and occasionally do suffer from real, acute food poisoning, and that this usually requires veterinary treatment in order to give your dog the best chance of recovery.
In this article, we will look at food poisoning in dogs in more detail, including how they are most likely to be exposed to problems, what the symptoms are and what to do next. Read on to learn more.
It is important to have a basic understanding of the difference between actual food poisoning and a short-term dodgy tummy, because the former can potentially be very serious and will require help from your vet.
If your dog simply vomits once or twice during a day and is otherwise ok and still keen to eat and vitally, able and willing to drink normally, the watch and wait approach is often best-along with potentially putting your dog on a fast for twelve or twenty four hours, to allow their stomachs to calm down.
However, if your dog is continually vomiting or retching and also has heavy or persistent diarrhoea, and also if they are unwilling to drink or unable to keep water down, this may be more serious. If your dog is showing signs of pain and serious discomfort too, such as in their posture, sounds or a general inability to get comfortable, this may indicate a more serious problem.
Food poisoning can happen due to various different types of bacterial infections that can grow on and be carried on food-some of the more common of these include things like salmonella, E.coli, Listeria, and various other nasties!
The routes by which dogs can develop food poisoning are essentially the same as those for people. Certain foods are more likely to become carriers for harmful bacteria than others, such as meat, seafood, eggs and even innocuous-seeming products like cooked rise-however, these foods themselves are not the cause of the risk, but rather, the way they are stored, handled and prepared.
Food that needs to be kept in the fridge should of course remain in the fridge until use, because the cold temperature renders bacteria in the food dormant. The preparation and cooking of such foods also needs to be taken care of carefully, to ensure that they are cooked at the right temperature to kill bacteria.
However, not all products that are common culprits of food poisoning are likely to carry dangerous bacteria in the first place-however, such bacteria can grow over time and can easily be transferred to other products through poor food prep or storage techniques, and of course, through contact with other dogs (or people) that are sick.
How long it takes for food poisoning symptoms to present themselves within your dog can be highly variable. It takes time for food poisoning bacteria to begin to affect your dog, and so if they appear sick or ill shortly after eating, the cause is unlikely to be food poisoning.
Different types of bacteria that can cause illness can take anything from eight to seventy two hours to present with symptoms, and so it can be hard to think about what your dog may have eaten a couple of days ago that is making them sick later on.
Indications of food poisoning in dogs are very similar to those in people, such as vomiting and diarrhoea, an inability to keep food down, and sometimes, even throwing up water or feeling unable to drink.
Shivers, cramps, headaches and general sickness may also accompany food poisoning, and your dog is apt to have stomach pain and generally feel weak, sick and uncomfortable. If symptoms such as these are present for more than a couple of hours, food poisoning is highly likely, and you should see your vet-and even if the root cause is not food poisoning, these symptoms are serious enough to warrant investigation for another root cause.
When you go to the vet, they will likely prescribe antibiotics and supportive therapies to fight the infection and allow your dog’s body the chance to heal. This may require an inpatient stay, particularly if your dog is dehydrated or their symptoms are very acute.
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