Dogs love to eat all kinds of things! If you’ve had a dog very long, then you know they’re always ready to snarf up a quick snack. It may be something they can safely eat or not. Dogs are not very discerning when it comes to eating things.
While this is really gross, it’s a topic we need to cover. Some dogs love to eat roadkill. Yes, we’re sorry this is not a pleasant topic! But do you know what to do if your dog eats something like that?
The Problems with Roadkill
In most cases, the ranker the better as far as dogs are concerned. This usually means that if your dog has found something that’s been around for a while. This means not only could the animal have carried parasites that could make your dog sick. It may have been around long enough to develop Clostridium botulinum, otherwise known as botulism.
What is Botulism?
Botulism is a very dangerous illness that can cause paralysis in dogs. This condition is caused when a dog eats botulinum toxin, which is produced by Clostridium botulinum.
Dogs can pick this up from eating dead animals. After dogs eat contaminated meat, the toxin enters the bloodstream. From there, it will reach the entire body. Once in the body, the toxin can bind with nerve cells, which leads to paralysis.
Symptoms of Botulism in Dogs
Symptoms can develop in a few hours after eating contaminated meat, or it may not show up for days afterward. You may notice these symptoms if your dog has been affected from eating roadkill:
- Difficulty chewing/swallowing
- Progressive paralysis—trouble walking
- Excessive salivation
- Progressive weakness
- Disturbed visions
If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, then call the vet immediately. This is a life-threatening medical emergency.
Treatment of Botulism in Dogs
When you get to the vet, they will conduct a physical exam of your dog. They may also run tests including lab work, stool samples, and x-rays.
Treatment is done with an antitoxin that keeps the botulinum toxin from binding to nerve endings. If a dog has already developed paralysis, the antitoxin is not effective. This is why fast treatment for the dog is needed.
At that point, the vet will choose supportive care for your dog. The dog is usually hospitalized, possibly in an intensive care unit. It’s possible the symptoms will end over time. But the dog will need supportive care through that time.
Most dogs can recover between 14-24 days if they have the right care. However, if they don’t receive care, the dog will die of paralysis and/or a secondary infection.
So, if your dog starts showing signs that he’s sick after eating roadkill, be sure to call the vet right away. Fast treatment may just save his life.