Cairns Vet Clinic treated three dogs last week which had been eating blood and bone fertiliser which is toxic to dogs. As the weather warms up its time to get into the garden and fertilise your plants, but make sure you keep garden chemicals and fertilisers out of reach of your pets!
Doggy Delicacy: Blood and Bone
One surprisingly popular delicacy (not sure if you can call it that if they eat it by the kilo though?) is Blood and Bone garden fertiliser. Some dogs develop quite a taste for this and will eat all they can get their grubby little paws on. I guess this kind of makes sense, given it is made of meat and bone scraps. The processing converts this from being food into something totally undigestable though, and dogs can get very sick from eating it.
Don’t let a little chicken poo put you off:
Some dogs don’t stop at blood and bone: Dynamic Lifter and similar natural fertilisers are mostly composed of chicken manure, often with added blood and bone. These are also eaten by dogs with toxic results. Keep all fertilisers away from your pets. This is a common cause of toxicity and dogs (and less commonly cats): the RSPCA advises pet owners to keep toxic fertilisers away from pets
RSPCA Australia recommends that owners take active steps to ensure that their dogs and other pets do not ingest any type of fertilizer material. If an owner suspects their dog or other pet has ingested fertilizer they should contact their local vet immediately for further advice. For information relating to specific fertilizer products or any other questions regarding fertilizer ingestion by dogs or other pets we suggest you contact your local vet.
Other types of fertilizer such as bone meal and blood meal may be eaten in large quantities by dogs which can cause significant gastrointestinal upset (vomiting, diarrhea, constipation) and possibly pancreatitis. Certain fertilizers may also contain bacterial or fungal toxins which can have serious side effects if ingested.
Fertilizers can also be caustic, which irritates the lining of the gastrointestinal tract. In some cases ingestion may lead to gastrointestinal ulceration. Impaction (gastrointestinal blockage) with fertilizer material may also occur in some cases.
Symptoms may be more severe however, if a large amount of fertilizer is ingested or if additives such as insecticides and iron are part of the fertilizer mix. Some fertilizers contain a significant amount of iron which can result in iron toxicity. Though heavy metals such as iron are generally not readily absorbed into the animal’s system, they can pose a hazard when dogs ingest large amounts. A few fertilizers also contain insecticides such as disulfoton, a highly toxic organophosphate which when ingested can cause a sudden onset of seizures and pancreatitis.