Aflatoxicosis, a case of acute poisoning as a result of mold-borne toxins, is harmful to humans and animals alike. However, you should consider how your eating habits differ from your pet’s. Even though breakfast cereals can get repetitive, you probably don’t eat the same bowl of the same food twice a day. Dogs do—and that means aflatoxins can more readily build up in their systems and make them gravely ill. Aflatoxicosis can cause severe liver damage or death in dogs, making identifying the symptoms of aflatoxin poisoning so critical. Here’s what to know about aflatoxin poisoning in dogs.
What Is an Aflatoxin?
It all begins with the Aspergillus genus of molds. While molds, like most fungi, can grow in lots of situations, Aspergillus species particularly love the surfaces of sugary substances—in other words, grains and fruits are where they thrive. Being a form of life, mold has a metabolism just like we do. The metabolites, or products of its process, are often toxic to people and animals. We know these metabolites as aflatoxins due to their appearance alongside the Aspergillus flavus species. When food processors fail to identify contaminated grain or produce, these toxins enter food products, where they can make people and animals sick. It may have been tainted corn that led to a recent outbreak of aflatoxin poisoning from dry dog food.
What Are the Symptoms?
Aflatoxicosis generally manifests in humans through vomiting, nausea, and abdominal pain. What you should know is that the symptoms of aflatoxin poisoning in dogs are more varied. Keep an eye out for lethargy and diarrhea in addition to vomiting. Jaundiced skin or eyes as a result of liver dysfunction, in tandem with other symptoms, can denote a case of aflatoxicosis.
Avoiding Aflatoxicosis Before It Happens
Unfortunately, with pet food processing out of your hands, you’re often at the mercy of the producers. If you do suspect aflatoxin poisoning, call your dog’s veterinarian immediately and come prepared with a sample and relevant processing information for your chosen pet food. To avoid the possibility of tainted pet food, you may wish to produce your own food for your dogs. Consult with your dog’s vet first to devise a nutritious and healthy recipe for homemade food.