While we applaud you for composting, make sure to do so appropriately – your compost shouldn’t contain any dairy or meat products, and should always be fenced off for the sake of your pets and wildlife.
Backyard compost bins or areas where decaying matter can be found (e.g., forests, etc.).
Mechanism of action:
These piles of decomposing and decaying organic matter and molding food products have the potential to contain tremorgenic mycotoxins, which are toxic to both pets and wildlife.
Signs of poisoning:
Clinical signs include agitation, hyperthermia, hyper-responsiveness, panting, drooling, and vomiting, and can progress to serious neurologic signs (including incoordination, tremors, and seizures). Even small amounts ingested can result in clinical signs within 30 minutes to several hours. Ruleouts for this include other toxins that can cause similar signs, such as metaldehydes (e.g.., snail bait), strychnine, organophosphates (the ingredient in some types of fertilizers), and methylxanthines (e.g., chocolate). Prompt decontamination and treatment is necessary!
Antidote and treatment:
There is no antidote for compost poisoning. Prompt decontamination (including emesis induction or gastric lavage) may be necessary at your veterinarian. Hospitalization for temperature regulation, cooling measures, IV fluids, IV muscle relaxants (to stop the tremoring), or anti-seizure medication may be necessary.
Treat to pets:
Dogs exposed to unfenced or unsecured compost bins are most exposed. Those dogs that run around unsupervised are also at risk of ingesting compost in other yards or in the forest.
With prompt decontamination, IV fluids, and muscle relaxant therapy, most dogs recover well within 24-48 hours, provided they don’t develop any complications (e.g., clotting abnormalities, aspiration pneumonia) secondary to compost poisoning.