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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

A warning to those who take their dogs to the beach for their exercise - puffer fish

Puffer Fish toxicity is relatively common in South Eastern Australia due to the abundance of dog friendly beaches. The toxin, ‘tetrodotoxin’ is stored in the skin and internal organs of the puffer or blow fish. All parts of the fish can be toxic if eaten by dogs however the potency can vary with the season. In Japan this toxin is considered a delicacy where chefs prepare the fish so that diners experience a small tingle or numbness to the lips when eaten! If ingested in sufficient quantities however, puffer fish can be fatal to both humans and dogs alike. What will you see if your dog eats a puffer fish, alive or dead? · Vomiting and diarrhoea · Mentally dull and depressed · Trembling and drooling · Wobbly walking pattern · Weakness · Difficulty breathing and blue tinged gums · Dilated pupils and the animal stops blinking · Paralysis · Coma Death can occur anywhere from as little as 20minutes to 4-6hours post ingestion. What to do? Puffer fish toxicity takes time to be absorbed so it is important that you seek urgent veterinary attention. If your dog has vomited it is a good idea to inspect the fish and bring whatever you can with you to the vet. This will help with identification. What to expect at the vet: • Your vet will possibly induce vomiting if your dog is sufficiently alert to do this • Hospitalisation and close monitoring of neurological symptoms • If your dog is paralysed or showing evidence of weakness such that inducing vomiting can be dangerous, the vet may perform stomach pumping (gastric lavage) to remove any remaining fish • If your dog is paralysed it will need mechanical ventilation (where the vet or a machine manually provides breaths through a breathing tube) • Intravenous fluid therapy to support the blood pressure • Your vet may possibly administer activated charcoal (to help absorb the toxin) if your dog’s airway is secure Blood testing to assess severity of illness and ventilation, and response to treatment Many dogs are only mildly affected and will recover within a day or two. Dogs that become paralysed have a good chance of recovery with appropriate care (removal of the toxin and breathing support). Without veterinary care, pets that are paralysed are not likely to recover. All parts of the puffer fish are TOXIC and THEY CAN KILL PETS IF INGESTED, CHEWED OR LICKED

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