Dog Survives Horse Poop Poisoning: Learn How to Protect Your Pets

Yesterday, a Golden Retriever had a frightening experience that serves as an important reminder for both dog owners and horse people.

While in Noordhoek, the Retriever accidentally ingested horse faeces, more commonly known as coprophagia, which can be challenging to avoid in the area. Within just 10 minutes, the poor pup started displaying alarming symptoms of a neurotoxic reaction—twitching, startling, and unsteady on her feet.


Thankfully, the quick-thinking owner wasted no time and rushed their beloved Retriever to Noordhoek vet, where they encountered the caring and skilled Tanya. Recognizing the severity of the situation, Tanya induced vomiting to remove any remaining traces of the toxic substance. However, due to the potential dangers involved, it was necessary to transfer the Retriever to the Animal Hospital in Kenilworth for further treatment.


This incident carried an air of familiarity for the owner, as it had tragically happened to their previous dog as well. Their experience allowed them to identify the cause of the distress almost immediately. When horses are dewormed, a considerable amount of the deworming medication is excreted in their faeces, which can be toxic to dogs. Despite their best efforts to keep their Retriever away from such hazards, it is not always possible, and not all faeces pose a risk.


It begs the question: are horse owners aware of this potential danger? And is there anything that can be done to prevent such incidents? The happy ending to this particular story was a result of the prompt and appropriate actions taken. However, it is important to note that the toxin takes time to work through a dog's system and can even prove fatal in some cases.


In a later post update shared by the vet, Dr Karen Levy on June 20, 2023, she shed some light on the situation. While many dogs can consume horse faeces without adverse effects, the problem arises when the horse has recently been dewormed, particularly with Ivermectin or an Ivermectin-related dewormer. Horses can excrete this medication in their faeces for one to three days after deworming. Ideally, responsible stables keep their horses confined to their own yards during this time or allow them to rest, minimizing the risk.


The severity of the dog's reaction depends on two factors. Firstly, some breeds or individuals are more sensitive to Ivermectin toxicity than others. Secondly, the quantity of faeces and Ivermectin ingested plays a significant role. While a small amount may not cause noticeable symptoms in certain dogs, larger quantities can be dangerous, especially for dogs like Golden Retrievers known for their hearty appetites.


The safest course of action is to prevent dogs from consuming horse faeces altogether, although it can be challenging to achieve in practice. Additionally, it is advisable to keep dewormed horses off public roads for up to three days post-deworming or clean up their faeces during this period.


This unfortunate incident serves as a vital cautionary tale, reminding us of the potential risks that may arise from seemingly harmless situations. By staying informed and taking appropriate precautions, both dog owners and horse people can work together to ensure the safety and well-being of our beloved furry companions.

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