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What is Garbage Toxicosis (Garbage Gut)?

Dogs are known to get into the trash every once in awhile, and even to eat the feces of other animals (especially from cat litter boxes), but these animals are at a higher risk of an illness called garbage toxicosis or garbage gut. Eating dead animals, such as birds or other small animals may also be the cause of garbage toxicosis. This is most common in outdoor dogs because they are able to ingest spoiled food or waste as well as dead animals that can be full of bacteria and other harmful organisms. Feeding your dog table scraps or a raw food diet can also add to the chance of your pet getting garbage toxicosis. When your dog ingests food (or waste) that is contaminated or spoiled, the bacteria gets into the digestive tract where it can produce toxins that get absorbed into the bloodstream.

Garbage toxicosis, or garbage gut, is a condition caused by the ingestion of food, trash, or waste that is contaminated with bacteria or other toxic substances. This can be from eating spoiled food out of a trash can, table scraps, dead animals from outside, and vomit or feces from other animals. It is also known as gastroenteritis, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, or food poisoning. Garbage toxicosis may be recognized by watery or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting, but can also be severe enough to cause inability to control body movements, hypothermia, and shock.

Garbage Toxicosis (Garbage Gut) Average Cost

From 438 quotes ranging from $500 - $2,000

Average Cost

$950

Symptoms of Garbage Toxicosis (Garbage Gut) in Dogs

The signs of garbage toxicosis depend on what kind of bacteria is involved, but the most commonly reported side effects are:

  • Diarrhea (may be bloody or watery)
  • Vomiting (can be projectile vomiting with or without blood)
  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Appetite loss
  • Sleepiness
  • High body temperature
  • Depression
  • Dehydration
  • Panting
  • Flatulence (gas)
  • Weakness
  • Shock (cold extremities, weak pulse, inactivity, respiratory failure)
  • Seizures (rare)
  • Death (rare)

 Types

Garbage toxicosis is possible in any breed of dog at any age, both male and female, but there are certain high-risk categories, which are:

  • Outdoor dogs
  • Small and toy breed dogs (Maltese, Miniature Poodle, Miniature Schnauzer, Miniature Pinscher, Shih Tzu, and Yorkshire Terrier)
  • Young dogs under five years old
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Causes of Garbage Toxicosis (Garbage Gut) in Dogs

The cause of garbage toxicosis is eating food, waste, feces, or carrion that is infected with bacteria, such as:

  • Bacillus
  • Clostridium botulinum
  • Clostridium perfringens
  • Escherichia coli
  • Penitrem-A (a neurotoxin)
  • Salmonella
  • Staphylococcus
  • Streptococcus
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Diagnosis of Garbage Toxicosis (Garbage Gut) in Dogs

Most cases of garbage toxicosis are mild, but some can be serious, especially in a small breed, young, or older dog. Since two of the most common side effects are diarrhea and vomiting, dehydration is a serious worry in garbage toxicosis. The bacteria involved is also a concern because some types of bacterial infections may cause central nervous system symptoms such as loss of muscle control and seizures. The only way to determine which type of bacteria is involved is to take your pet to a veterinary professional. If you cannot get an appointment to see your veterinarian within 24 hours, you should go ahead and take your dog to a veterinary clinic or animal hospital.

The veterinarian will do a physical examination on your dog to check reflexes, temperature, body weight and height, breath sounds, pupil reaction time, abdominal palpation, blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory rate. Afterward, the veterinarian will need to perform some laboratory tests.

A CBC (complete blood count) will show a decreased plasma volume and increase in red blood cells and neutrophils (certain white blood cells). A biochemical profile may show low glucose, sodium, chloride ion, albumin, potassium, globulin, and protein levels consistent with electrolyte disturbances. The PCV (packed cell volume) will be 55% or higher in most cases due to dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea.

A stool sample will be taken for a bacterial culture in order to determine the bacteria that is involved. A urinalysis may show decreased glucose and concentrated urine due to dehydration. Abdominal radiographs (X-rays) and ultrasounds will also be performed and may show a partial or complete diffusion of the intestine and fluid in the loops of the bowel. If necessary, the veterinarian may need to get an MRI or CT scan for a better look at the intestinal tract and stomach.

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Treatment of Garbage Toxicosis (Garbage Gut) in Dogs

Treating garbage toxicosis in dogs is similar to treating a patient who has been poisoned. The best course of treatment will ultimately depend on the symptoms and health of your dog, but most often include getting the toxins out of the system and treating the symptoms.

Evacuation

If your dog has been vomiting already, there is usually no need to give an emetic, such as ipecac syrup, apomorphine, or hydrogen peroxide. In addition, activated charcoal will probably be given to absorb the excess bacteria or toxins.  

Detoxification

Intravenous (IV) fluids and electrolytes will be given to rehydrate and flush the kidneys.

Medications

Some medications that the veterinarian may give your pet are muscle relaxants to control seizures, H2 blockers for gastric upset, and antibiotics for infection.

Observation

The veterinarian may want to keep your dog overnight for observation and fluid therapy.

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Recovery of Garbage Toxicosis (Garbage Gut) in Dogs

Chances of recovery are good if you are able to get treatment before the toxins are completely absorbed into the bloodstream (about 8-12 hours). The veterinarian may send you home with antidiarrheal medication, antibiotics, and H2 blockers, so make sure you give as prescribed. Bring your dog back for a follow up as directed by the veterinarian and call if you have any questions.

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Garbage Toxicosis (Garbage Gut) Average Cost

From 438 quotes ranging from $500 - $2,000

Average Cost

$950

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Garbage Toxicosis (Garbage Gut) Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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German Shepherd

dog-age-icon

Six Years

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

My dog got into the garbage 2 days ago and he is now throwing it back up. Now he is only throwing up bile. His stool is normal (there are pieces of garbage in it) he is acting normal and ate some food. Is it necessary to take him in to see a vet?

Aug. 20, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello- Thank you for your question. If he has vomited multiple times then yes I would recommend taking him to the veterinarian. Even if he is drinking he can become dehydrated quickly. Your veterinarian can examine him, take x-rays to make sure there is not an obstruction present and prescribe anti-emetics for him to help settle his stomach and stop the vomiting. I hope he feels better soon!

Aug. 20, 2020

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dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

German Shepherd

dog-age-icon

Six Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

My dog got into the garbage 2 days ago and he is now throwing it back up. Now he is only throwing up bile. His stool is normal (there are pieces of garbage in it) he is acting normal and ate some food. Is it necessary to take him in to see a vet?

Aug. 20, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Jessica N. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Hello- Thank you for your question. If he has vomited multiple times then yes I would recommend taking him to the veterinarian. Even if he is drinking he can become dehydrated quickly. Your veterinarian can examine him, take x-rays to make sure there is not an obstruction present and prescribe anti-emetics for him to help settle his stomach and stop the vomiting. I hope he feels better soon!

Aug. 20, 2020

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dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

German Shepherd

dog-age-icon

Six Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

My dog got into the garbage 2 days ago and he is now throwing it back up. Now he is only throwing up bile. His stool is normal (there are pieces of garbage in it) he is acting normal and ate some food. Is it necessary to take him in to see a vet?

Aug. 20, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Jessica N. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Hello- Thank you for your question. If he has vomited multiple times then yes I would recommend taking him to the veterinarian. Even if he is drinking he can become dehydrated quickly. Your veterinarian can examine him, take x-rays to make sure there is not an obstruction present and prescribe anti-emetics for him to help settle his stomach and stop the vomiting. I hope he feels better soon!

Aug. 20, 2020

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dog-breed-icon

German Shepherd

dog-age-icon

Ten Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Lethargy, Nausea, Not Eating

My dog has been acting different for 5 days now. He will just lay around, won't eat. I took him to the vet and they did an exam and blood tests. Everything was normal except for a little fever. They prescribed him amoxicillin and an anti nausea medicine. The next two days he seemed so much better but today he's back to acting sick.

Aug. 8, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If he is not improving with the medications that they prescribed, a recheck with your veterinarian would be a good idea. They are able to examine him, see what might be going on, and they have access to any lab results. They will be able to discuss what the next step is with you, and what treatments may be needed. I Hope that your dog feels better soon.

Aug. 11, 2020

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Pit Bull

dog-age-icon

Eight Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

Ate spoiled meat now want eat was fine at first and started losing weight

Aug. 4, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. There can be a lot of toxins and bacteria in spoiled meat that can cause significant GI disease. If he is not eating and losing weight, it would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. They will be able to examine him, see if the cause of the problem was the food he ate, or if he has parasites or an infectious disease. They will be able to get treatment for him so that he can get better. I hope that all goes well for him.

Aug. 4, 2020

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Willow

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Yellow Lab

dog-age-icon

4 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Loss Of Appetite

My 4 Year old Yellow Lab got into garbage 2 nights ago while we were gone. She had vomited 5 times throughout the house, all containing just her dog food, no garbage. Theday after she ate fine, played ball for a while, and acted pretty normal. Although now she is acting more tired, not eating the best, she will eat but only small bits at a time, almost as if her throat or stomach hurts?? She has been eating grass non stop since it happened , every time we let her out. I’m not sure about diarrhea but I feel like she’s acting odd. She has an on going issue with excessive swallowing and gulping almost, Vets have said they don’t know what it is and brushed it off everytime. Since she got into the garbage that has gotten increasingly worse. She doesn’t feel warm and I checked her ears (Vet told me if ears are hot it means she has a fever??) and they were cool. Do I bring her in?

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fogo

dog-breed-icon

Great Pyrenees

dog-age-icon

3 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

My 3 year old, Great Pyrenees/retriever. He got into some trash at a nearby cottage. A few hours later he wasn't himself. He won't eat or drink. His nose is very dry, but my biggest concern is that he is twitching often and more so when I touch him. I've tried giving him some rice and chicken but he didn't eat much of it. Do I need to be concerned, should I wait it out?

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Ellie

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Yorkshire Terrier

dog-age-icon

5 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Blood In Stool
Occasionally Panting

Ellie is a mini Yorkie, 4.4lbs, and will be 6 this May. She is an inside dog but when I let her outside it seems that she got into some bacon grease that someone threw outside, I had not realized it for a day or two. She has had diarrhea for the last 3-4 days but wants to eat normally. I haven’t taken her to the vet because her last exposure of eating the grease was half the time of how long she’s had diarrhea. Her water intake seems to have gone down a little bit, but she will drink it when I try to give her water (which I’ve been actively doing). My major concerns: - diarrhea for 3-4 days, approximately every 4-6 hours. - waking in the middle of the night to have diarrhea (she never has a problem sleeping through the whole night) - today, for the first time, I found a little bit of blood in an accident she had in the house. The diarrhea has been very very soft/normal up until that, in which it looks like the diarrhea may be getting a little more watery. - for the most part is acting her normal self however, I have noticed occasionally she will pant and that lets me know she needs to go potty. Please help!

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Tyra

dog-breed-icon

Labrador Retriever

dog-age-icon

9 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea
Swollen Abdomen
Limping

My dog is limping and found out her rightpart of abdomen is swollen. We saw part of plastics on her stool. She also have diarrhea. She is stillactive and still eating the food that we gave her.

Garbage Toxicosis (Garbage Gut) Average Cost

From 438 quotes ranging from $500 - $2,000

Average Cost

$950

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