My Dog Ate Moldy Food and Seems Fine – What Should I Do ?

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Key Takeaways:

  • If your dog eats moldy food, you should report the incident to your veterinarian.
  • Mycotoxins in moldy food can make your dog extremely ill.
  • Dogs that receive early and aggressive treatment usually recover from mycotoxin poisoning in a matter of days.

Dogs have a reputation for eating all kinds of items, including potentially spoiled food. If your pooch snarfs moldy food from the trash or off the street during a walk, should you be concerned?

Mold in food can produce toxins that are potentially dangerous to dogs. When your dog eats moldy food, you should contact your veterinarian immediately and monitor your pooch for signs of illness.

How Much Moldy Food Toxic to Dogs?

When mold grows in spoiled food, garbage, or compost, it metabolizes the organic materials and produces byproducts that are poisonous to dogs. Our canine friends are extremely sensitive to mycotoxins in food. A dose of 0.386 mg/lb body weight of mycotoxin is enough to make your pooch ill. If you know or suspect your dog ate moldy food, contact your veterinarian immediately. Early and aggressive treatment is essential.

Fungus in spoiled food, garbage, or compost can produce chemicals that are poisonous to dogs. It takes a very small dose of mycotoxins to make your pooch ill. Call your veterinarian if your pup ate moldy food.

What Should I Do if My Dog Ate Moldy Food?

If your dog ate moldy food, you should immediately remove any remaining materials from his reach. Make sure that the items are secured in a container that has a lid or is sealed. Try to figure out how much-spoiled food your pooch ingested and contact your veterinarian to report your findings.

Unless your vet instructs you to bring Fido to the clinic immediately, you should monitor him closely for symptoms of illness. Take your dog to the vet immediately the moment you see anything unusual such as vomiting, diarrhea, or disorientation. Some dogs may also have allergic reactions to molds and demonstrate respiratory distress.

If your pup doesn’t show signs of severe illness after eating moldy food, you may want to put him on a bland diet for a few days to rest the gut. Feed 2 parts boiled rice to 1 part lean cooked chicken for a few days, then gradually transition back to his normal diet. You can also add some plain yogurt with live probiotic cultures to support the gut’s ability to recover.

If your dog ate moldy food, make sure he can’t ingest any more material. Assess the situation and contact your veterinarian. If you see any signs of illness, take Fido to the clinic immediately. Otherwise, feed a bland diet for a few days to rest the gut.

When Should I Take My Dog To the Vet?

Whether you see your dog eat moldy food or you suspect he ingested some, observe him closely for signs of illness. Symptoms of mold toxicity that tell you to take him to the vet immediately include:

  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Muscle tremors

Time is of the essence. Usually, dogs can recover from mycotoxin poisoning if they receive early and aggressive treatment. Without veterinary care, dogs may become severely ill or die.

Any time you know or suspect that your dog ate moldy food, you should watch for signs of mycotoxin poisoning. If you see symptoms, take your pooch to the vet immediately. Early, aggressive treatment is essential.

What if My Dog Ate Plenty of Moldy Food But Seems Fine?

There are a variety of mycotoxins depending on the strain of mold and the type of food involved. Some of the poisonous substances act almost immediately, but others may not cause noticeable effects for up to 24 hours. 

If your dog ate moldy food, it’s best to contact your veterinarian and report how much he ate, along with any unusual symptoms you observe. Depending on how much your pooch ate and the type of mold that’s involved, early treatment may be the difference between life and death.

There are a variety of mycotoxins depending on the strain of mold and the type of food involved. In some cases, it may take a day or so for symptoms of poisoning to manifest. Even if you don’t notice symptoms right away, you should contact your veterinarian.

Signs That My Dog Got Mycotoxin Poisoning

Depending on how much your dog ate and the type of mold he ingested, you may notice the following signs:

  • Restlessness
  • Disorientation
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Muscle tremors
  • Seizures
  • Lethargy
  • Panting or other signs of respiratory distress
  • Loss of appetite
  • High fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Jaundice

Signs of mycotoxin poisoning may vary depending on the type of mold and food involved. The symptoms typically involve the digestive system or the nervous system. However, if your dog has an allergic reaction, you may also see respiratory signs.

What Happens to Dogs That Eat Moldy Food?

What happens to your dog after eating moldy food will depend on the type of mycotoxin he ingested. The most common class of mycotoxins that dogs consume is a derivative of penicillin known as tremorgenic mycotoxins. This group of toxins tends to block neurotransmitters and can cause muscle tremors, seizures, salivation, vomiting, ataxia, and other symptoms.

Another type of mycotoxin that can affect dogs is aflatoxin. When the liver attempts to clear these chemicals, they can cause liver damage. When this happens, you may notice jaundice, nausea, loss of appetite, and blood in the stool.

When dog food spoils and grows Fusarium mold, the organism produces trichothecene mycotoxins. These toxins affect the digestive tract and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

The way mycotoxins affect your dog will depend on the type of mold he ingests. Some affect the nervous system, while others target cells in the liver. Others can cause digestive upset and abdominal pain.

Why Is Moldy Food Dangerous to Dogs?

Depending on the type of mycotoxin, moldy food can cause various adverse effects in your pooch. 

  • With tremorgenic toxins, the chemicals affect the nervous system and cause seizures. If left untreated, the symptoms can be fatal. 
  • If your dog eats aflatoxin, the chemicals may cause cell death in the liver. The effects on the organ may lead to immunosuppression, reduced growth rate, and liver enlargement.
  • Dogs that eat moldy kibble or wet food may have digestive symptoms. If left untreated, the vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration.

Any of the above effects can make your dog very sick. Some symptoms resolve after a few to several days. However, without treatment, your dog may die.

Moldy food can cause adverse effects on various body systems in dogs. The mycotoxins may cause muscle tremors and seizures, liver damage, or digestive effects. When the symptoms are left untreated, they can lead to death.

How Will My Vet Treat My Dog if He Eats Moldy Food?

If your dog ate moldy food in the past few hours, your vet will start by attempting to eliminate the toxins or neutralize their effects. Treatment may include inducing vomiting, gastric lavage under anesthesia, or administration of activated charcoal. 

After addressing the toxin, the doctor will provide supportive care to treat severe symptoms, including:

  • Antiseizure medications such as Diazepam or intravenous methocarbamol
  • IV fluids with electrolytes to support the liver or to treat dehydration
  • Corticosteroids for shock 
  • Cooling measures if your dog is hyperthermic

Treatment for mycotoxin poisoning starts with actions designed to eliminate or neutralize the poison in your dog’s body. Afterward, your vet will provide supportive care to address any severe symptoms.

How long is the recovery?

The prognosis for dogs that eat moldy food is favorable when they get early and aggressive treatment. The effects of the poisons usually last for a few days. As long as there’s minimal liver damage, dogs tend to recover in a matter of days.

With early and aggressive treatment, the prognosis for dogs that eat moldy food is favorable. Recovery usually takes several days, depending on the severity of the symptoms.

The Final Woof

When mold grows in foods, it can produce mycotoxins. The type of mycotoxin depends on the particular food and strain of mold. Some mycotoxins affect the nervous system, others can cause liver damage, and others may trigger digestive symptoms. Although your dog may show symptoms immediately after eating the moldy food, it can also take several hours to a few days.

Mycotoxin poisoning in dogs is potentially dangerous and can cause death if left untreated. When you suspect or know your pooch ate moldy food, you should contact your veterinarian. The doctor may attempt to eliminate or neutralize the poison and then provide supportive care. With treatment, the prognosis is favorable, and recovery usually occurs in a matter of days.

Photo of author
Dr. Libby Guise earned her DVM from the University of Minnesota in 1994. After working in private practice in Wisconsin for two years, she joined the USDA as a Veterinary Medical Officer. In 2011, Libby came home to focus on raising and teaching her adoptive daughter. She lives in Wisconsin with her daughter, husband, and two furbabies: Charis, a lab-mix rescue pup, and Chesed, a Springer Spaniel.

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