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Garbage Gut In Dogs (Garbage Toxicosis): Everything You Need To Know

No matter how obedient or well-trained your dog is; it will always be a dog at heart. This means that from time to time, you might see it going through your trash can looking for god-knows-what. You might even catch your dog eating cat litter, waste, dead birds, and even the feces of other animals.

What’s Garbage Toxicosis (Garbage Gut)?
Due to their curiosity, dogs are more susceptible to contracting garbage toxicosis, a condition that’s also known as garbage gut. This condition is particularly prevalent in outdoor dogs because there’s an increased possibility that they’ll consume harmful organisms and bacteria.

However, indoor dogs can also develop garbage toxicosis from eating contaminated raw food or table scraps. When your dog consumes spoiled or contaminated food, this becomes a gateway for bacteria to enter the digestive tract. This creates toxins that enter the bloodstream and cause diseases that’ll affect your dog’s ability to digest food.

Garbage Toxicosis Is A Serious Medical Condition
Garbage toxicosis typically manifests in symptoms such as severe vomiting, fever, and diarrhea. It can also escalate to shock, hypothermia, and difficulty in controlling body movement. Once you take your dog to the vet, it will most likely be diagnosed with food poisoning, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis or simple gastroenteritis. This can happen as a result of consuming contaminated food from table scraps, trash can food, the feces of other animals and dead animals.

Garbage Toxicosis Symptoms
Garbage toxicosis can manifest in several different ways, and the symptoms experienced by your dog will depend on the type of bacteria it has developed from consuming the contaminated food.

Some of the most common side effects of garbage toxicosis to look out for include:

  • Extreme sleepiness
  • Appetite loss
  • Abdominal swelling and pain
  • Vomiting (projectile vomiting or vomiting without blood)
  • Diarrhea (it can be watery or bloody)
  • Passing gas (panting flatulence)
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Unnaturally high body temperature
  • Weakness shock (manifests as respiratory failure, inactivity, weak pulse, and cold extremities)
  • Seizures (extremely rare)
  • Death (extremely rare)

How To Diagnose Garbage Toxicosis In Dogs
Garbage toxicosis is usually very mild, but in some cases, it can get serious to the point that your dog may experience some of the more severe side effects. Young pups, small breeds, and older dogs are at a higher risk of developing serious forms of this condition. Dehydration is the biggest concern when it comes to garbage toxicosis due to symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea. Your dog may also experience worrying symptoms associated with bacterial infections, such as seizures and loss of muscle control. Some of these symptoms can be confusing and it can be difficult for pet owners to figure out what type of bacteria is involved. The best way to figure this out is to consult with a vet within the first 24 hours of noticing the mildest symptoms.

Once you get to the doctor’s office, the vet will perform a full physical exam which includes checking your dog’s temperature, reflexes, body weight, and height, as well as respiratory rate, pulse, blood pressure, abdominal palpation and pupil reaction time. The vet will follow this up with lab tests such as a complete blood count (CBC). If your dog has garbage toxicosis, the CBC text will come back, showing a spike in red blood cells, a decrease in plasma, and an increase in neutrophils or white blood cells.

A test known as a biochemical profile will probably show low levels of globulin, potassium, albumin, chloride ion, protein, sodium, and glucose. This is in line with the electrolyte disturbances that your dog will experience at this time. This test may also reveal higher packed cells volume (PCV) due to dehydration caused by diarrhea and vomiting.

The vet will also take a stool sample to see what type of bacteria is causing the problem. This is in addition to a urinalysis whose purpose is to determine your dog’s glucose levels; an ultrasound and abdominal radiograph to spot fluid loops in the bowel and level of intestine diffusion. Depending on the severity of your pet’s condition, the veterinarian may also perform a CT scan and MRI to view the stomach and intestinal tract from the inside.

How To Prevent It
Let’s face it; your dog will always be curious, and there’s no way to completely stop it from going through your trash. But, you can prevent garbage toxicosis by getting a dog-proof trash can. A dog-proof trash can is designed in a way that makes it virtually impossible for your pet to access its content. It’s a great way to minimize the risk of your dog developing garbage toxicosis.

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