Has your dog swallowed fertilizer? What is he at risk, and how to react if necessary?
Fertilizers, how are they toxic to dogs?
A fertilizer is a product made up of organic or mineral substances, used alone or as a mixture. They are used to improve the growth of plants, indoors or in gardens, by providing them with nutrients such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K) and trace elements.
These products are usually presented in the form of diluting solutions, dissolving or dispersing granules or planting sticks.
With the exception of fertilizers rich in potassium (toxic for the heart), poisoning of dogs by NPK mineral fertilizers, fertilizers based on nitrates and superphosphates are generally moderate because the quantity of product ingested by the dog does not occur. It is not very important (the products have poor palatability for the dog). They can, however, cause digestive irritation.
On the other hand, organic fertilizers based on animal by-products (poultry manure, bone powder, dried blood, etc.) or plants are much more dangerous for the dog because the latter can ingest larger quantities. Their toxicity is mainly digestive.
Organic amendments such as castor cake and organometal fertilizers made from cocoa pods can also present a danger to the dog. The former contains ricin, a protein highly toxic to dogs, while the latter contains theobromine, the molecule responsible for the toxicity of chocolate.
What are the signs of organic fertilizer poisoning in dogs?
When a dog accidentally swallows organic fertilizer, intoxication manifests itself mainly through digestive signs such as:
vomiting and abdominal pain
The first signs of poisoning may appear immediately after ingesting fertilizer or may not appear until a few hours after.
Symptoms following ingestion of castor cake or cocoa pod fertilizer are usually more severe and can quickly progress to death.
If the fertilizers are combined with other substances such as a defoamer or weedkiller, the dog’s poisoning can also be severe! The signs of intoxication are then related to the complementary product used in the formulation of the fertilizer.
My dog has swallowed fertilizer: what to do?
If your dog has ingested fertilizer, contact your veterinarian, an on-call veterinary clinic or a veterinary poison control centre without delay. Don’t wait for your dog to show signs of poisoning. Before calling, have the fertilizer label with its exact composition ready, so you can tell your veterinarian. If possible, try to quantify the amount of fertilizer your pet ingests.
Never try to induce your pet to vomit on your own, and do not give your pet anything else to eat or drink.
If the poisoning is proven, your veterinarian can quickly implement an eliminatory and/or symptomatic treatment in order to limit the effects of the poisoning in the first case and to alleviate your dog’s symptoms in the second.
Always keep in mind that you have to act quickly! When it comes to intoxication, the sooner your animal is taken care of, the better its prognosis!