Autumn poisoning hazards for pets

Nicola Bates
Friday, September 2, 2022

In the autumn, plants commonly produce their fruits, nuts and seeds, and fungi their fruit bodies (mushrooms). Some of these are poisonous and hazardous to pets. In addition to mushrooms, warm wet weather may promote the growth of mould producing tremorgenic mycotoxins, including on food waste, compost and windfall fruits and nuts. There is also a risk of exposure to luminous novelties and fireworks associated with autumnal events such as Halloween and in the UK, Bonfire Night. For pets that ingest mushrooms, expert identification of the suspect mushroom is highly recommended to identify animals as risk of severe poisoning. Many mushrooms only cause gastrointestinal upset, but others cause neurological effects, renal and/or liver damage. Tremorgenic mycotoxins cause rapid-onset whole-body tremors and seizures. Ingestion of luminous novelties usually only produces a taste reaction which rapidly resolves. Fireworks generally only cause gastrointestinal signs but there is a potential risk of metal poisoning, although this is uncommon. Conkers and acorns are commonly eaten by dogs in the autumn and typically cause only gastrointestinal signs, but there is the risk of obstruction and occasionally more significant signs. Management of autumnal hazards is supportive but advice from a poisons information service should be sought if necessary.

Figure 1. Luminous glow sticks contain irritant compounds with an unpleasant taste.
Figure 1. Luminous glow sticks contain irritant compounds with an unpleasant taste.

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