What is Australian Nut Poisoning?
Australian nut poisoning in dogs is the result of consuming Australian nuts, otherwise known as Macadamia nuts. These nuts are native to the trees of Australia but are also grown in California, Hawaii, and other warm climates. People enjoy Macadamia nut for their sweet and nutty taste and eat them alone or within baked goods. For people, macadamia nuts are not poisonous; for dogs they are toxic. Australian nut, or macadamia, belongs to a genus of four different species native to parts of Australia, including New South Wales and Queensland. For people, the macadamia nut is packed with vitamins and is highly nutritious. The reason behind the toxicity of the macadamia nut when ingested by dogs is unknown at this time.
Australian nut poisoning in dogs is the result of the ingestion of the Australian nut, also known as the macadamia nut, which is toxic to dogs and other small animals. Serious symptoms like fever and tremors can occur within 12 hours of the ingestion of the nut, warranting an immediate veterinary visit.
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Symptoms of Australian Nut Poisoning in Dogs
Although the reason of the macadamia nut being poisonous is unknown, the symptoms are recognized by many veterinarians and dog owners. Symptoms can occur within 12 hours and include:
- Hind lameness
- Joint pain
- Coordination difficulties
- Pain in the abdomen
The symptoms of macadamia nut poisoning are similar to other conditions. Differential diagnoses of this condition are:
- Toxicosis of ethylene glycol
- Consumption of agents that can lower the blood pressure
- Viral enteritis
- Infectious diseases
Causes of Australian Nut Poisoning in Dogs
The cause of macadamia poisoning is the consumption of macadamia nuts. Though the effects on canines typically resolve within 12 hours to 2 days, a large ingestion of the Australian nut can cause your dog to become very ill, warranting a veterinary visit. Documentation states that toxicity has been recorded with 2.4 g of the nut per kg of body weight. As these nuts could prove to be very palatable to a dog, illness is highly likely. The toxic agent in macadamia nuts is still being researched at this time.
Diagnosis of Australian Nut Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog is exhibiting any of the symptoms above, or if you know they have ingested Macadamia nuts, it is imperative that you take him to the veterinarian as soon as you can. The veterinarian will ask questions pertaining to the ingestion of the nuts and will look at his clinical signs.
The physician may perform a complete physical examination with bloodwork and a possible biochemistry profile; however, if your dog has been known to ingest this nut, the veterinarian may induce vomiting and test the vomit for the evidence of the nut. He may also give activated charcoal which can be effective in emergency cases of poisoning, as it prevents the toxic substance from being absorbed by the stomach and into the body. If your dog has had time to digest the substance, more evidence can be found in the feces or stool.
Treatment of Australian Nut Poisoning in Dogs
There is no successful antidote for the poisoning caused by eating macadamia nuts. There are a few methods of treatment that can be successful.
The veterinarian may induce vomiting followed by activated charcoal to help decontaminate your dog’s system. The veterinarian may also perform a gastric lavage to flush out the poison from your dog’s stomach. The physician may also choose to give your dog an enema to help as well. At this time there is no antidote for macadamia nut toxicity.
Medications and Fluids
Medications to relieve the pain and to manage any tremors your dog may have will be given. Your dog may also receive intravenous fluids to help him remain hydrated during the process of treatment.
Recovery of Australian Nut Poisoning in Dogs
Once treatment is complete and your dog is home, prognosis is good. Your veterinarian will give you instructions on how to properly take care of your dog while he is completely recovering. He will also give you a list of specific behaviors to watch for, and if these behaviors are seen, it is important to contact him. Fortunately, with treatment, dogs have a high recovery rate from macadamia nut poisoning.