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Dog ate mouldy food: mycotoxin poisoning in dogs

Sadly, our furry friends aren’t as fussy as we are when it comes to food. Curious dogs will sometimes stop at nothing, not even eating mouldy food out of the bin! The ingestion of mouldy food can be very dangerous to our pets, so you should aim to prevent them from coming into contact with it.

Let’s take a look at the dangers of mouldy food, symptoms of mycotoxin poisoning and how to keep your dog safe.

Why mould is poisonous: what are mycotoxins?

After we put our food in the bin and it becomes mouldy, the mould produces highly poisonous substances known as mycotoxins. There are several different types of mycotoxins but the most common are tremorgenic mycotoxins, so named because they cause tremors and seizures in pets who digest them. Other less common forms of mycotoxins, such as aflatoxins, can attack your dog’s liver and cause the cells to die. In severe cases, mycotoxin poisoning can be fatal.

Where do you find mycotoxins?

Mouldy bread bad for dogs

Most food will begin to produce mycotoxins as it goes mouldy but common examples include:

  • Bread
  • Cheese
  • Cooked pasta
  • Nuts
  • Fruit (from rubbish bins or fruit that has fallen from trees)
  • Dog food
  • Compost heaps

Symptoms of mycotoxin poisoning

You may or may not notice that your dog has managed to gain access to mouldy food. If they do eat any gone-off or mouldy food and they suffer from mycotoxin poisoning, symptoms will include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Rigidity and extension of the limbs
  • Restlessness or general disorientation, panting

How to stop your dog from eating mouldy food?

The best way is to limit their access to it. Try to empty your kitchen waste bin regularly, especially after you’ve thrown out large quantities of food – out-of-date bread or a portion of pasta.

For particularly inquisitive pooches, consider a dog-proof waste bin, or even keeping your pet out of the kitchen when you’re cooking/washing up. In any case, it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your pet and to contact your vet if they start to show any symptoms.

What about mouldy meat? Can dogs eat raw meat? 

Out-of-date meat might not be as harmful for dogs as it is for us, but you should still avoid giving it to them as it may contain high numbers of harmful bacteria.

Dogs can digest raw meat but again, they are still at risk of worms, salmonella and listeria so this is best avoided. You can read more about a healthy diet for your dog or chat with your vet if you’d like to find out more.

Need more info?

If you need more information about mycotoxins or the dangers that mouldy food poses to your pets, have a chat with your vet. They’ll be able to give advice based on your specific pet and situation.

Find your nearest vet using our Find a Vet page, or speak to a vet online using Online Vets.