Jump to section

What is Moldy Food (Mycotoxins) Poisoning?

Mycotoxins are poisonous substances produced by fungi and molds that grow on spoiled food. These substances are toxic to dogs as well as humans and can pose a problem for pets that like to eat food out of the trash. There are many different kinds of mycotoxins which are divided into several families. The most common group are tremorgenic, meaning that they contain a neurotoxin which causes tremors or seizures in dogs. Tremorgenic mycotoxins are produced by various Penicillium species of bacteria, with penitrem-A being the substance that most frequently causes poisoning in dogs. Penitrem-A is found on many types of spoiled food, including, bread, dairy products, and nuts. This type of poisoning is relatively common in dogs, with immediate symptoms of vomiting, tremors, and fever. Without treatment, high doses can cause fatal seizures.

Other toxic mycotoxins can also be present including aflatoxins produced by aspergillus fungi. These mycotoxins are metabolized in the liver and may cause hepatocellular necrosis (liver cell death) which will affect liver function giving dogs a yellowish, jaundiced appearance. Fusarium mold containing trichothecene mycotoxins can also sometimes be found on old or contaminated pet food. This will cause vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Severe mycotoxin poisoning can result in death and even non-fatal doses may be symptomatic for up to five days. Veterinary treatment can reduce the symptoms and help to eliminate the toxins faster, greatly increasing the dog’s chances of recovery.

Moldy food can contain mycotoxins that are poisonous to your dog. This is called mycotoxin intoxication or mycotoxin toxicosis. Seizures and tremors are the most common symptoms. Severe cases can be fatal without treatment.

Moldy Food (Mycotoxins) Poisoning Average Cost

From 79 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,000

Symptoms of Moldy Food (Mycotoxins) Poisoning in Dogs

These symptoms could indicate mycotoxin poisoning.

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Restlessness
  • Disorientation
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • High fever (hyperthermia)
  • Jaundiced appearance (icterus)
  • Abdominal pain

Types

These are some of the mycotoxins found frequently in moldy food.

Penitrem-A

  • The most common type of tremorgenic mycotoxin associated with poisoning in dogs, frequently found in mold growing on bread, nuts, cheese and other spoiled products

Aflatoxins

  • Produced by aspergillus fungi this can also be a component in many types of mold
  • In dogs, it can affect liver function and may cause icterus (jaundice)

Vomitoxin

  • A trichothecene mycotoxin produced by Fusarium mold that grows on grains such as those found in bread or dog food
  • This is an infrequent cause of poisoning in dogs that is mainly caused by contaminated dog food

Roquefortine

  • Another tremorgenic mycotoxin frequently found with penitrem-A
arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Moldy Food (Mycotoxins) Poisoning in Dogs

These are some of the causes and risk factors for mycotoxin poisoning.

  • Spoiled food left in an open trashcan
  • Compost heap
  • Old or moldy dog food
  • Feeding spoiled food to a dog
  • Dogs that like to eat from the trash
arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Moldy Food (Mycotoxins) Poisoning in Dogs

A history of moldy food ingestion is the easiest way of identifying a likely mycotoxin poisoning in your dog. Whenever possible, you should bring a sample of the suspected substance with you so the veterinarian will be able to better identify the mycotoxin that is causing the problem. If aflatoxins are present, a blood test will show reduced liver function, but other mycotoxins rarely have obvious diagnostic markers. Lab testing of the spoiled food or the contents of your dog’s stomach will be necessary to definitively diagnose mycotoxin toxicosis and identify the substance that is causing your dog’s symptoms. The veterinarian will also need to test for alternative causes since ingestion of other toxic substances like ethylene glycol, hydrocarbons or amphetamines could cause similar symptoms. A history of your dog’s recent activities may be helpful, especially if you didn’t see the incident.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Moldy Food (Mycotoxins) Poisoning in Dogs

Initial treatment will focus on eliminating the toxic substance. Vomiting may be induced or gastric lavage may be done under anesthesia. Activated charcoal may be given to reduce absorption in the stomach as well as a cathartic medication to initiate bowel movements.

More advanced cases will require medication to control symptoms. Diazepam is often prescribed to control seizures with tremorgenic mycotoxins. Intravenous methocarbamol may be necessary with very severe seizures. For aflatoxin poisoning, intravenous fluids and electrolytes will be necessary to support liver function and blood transfusions might be required in severe cases. Corticosteroids may be prescribed if your dog is in shock as well as other medications to regulate body temperature.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Recovery of Moldy Food (Mycotoxins) Poisoning in Dogs

Most dogs will survive mycotoxin poisoning with aggressive treatment. It is important to get treatment however, since this type of toxicity can be fatal. Finding and removing the cause of poisoning will be necessary to prevent a recurrence. You should buy fresh dog food and throw away the old food in a sealed container or a dog-proof garbage can. Buying dog food in smaller quantities can reduce the risk of contamination. Spoiled food should be disposed of in a garbage disposal whenever possible. Rinse out old milk cartons or bottle before recycling them. Keep sealed lids on all your garbage cans and try to train your dog not to go through trash. Avoid feeding any spoiled food to your dog. Food that is not fit for human consumption will likely be toxic for your dog also.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Moldy Food (Mycotoxins) Poisoning Average Cost

From 79 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,000

arrow-up-icon

Top

Moldy Food (Mycotoxins) Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

French Bulldog

dog-age-icon

One Year

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

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

He went into my trash and ate some very old molded food and then threw up a bunch but seems fine is there anything else I can do I’m worried he’s gonna have a seizures since he’s had them before.

Feb. 16, 2021

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Gina U. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Hello I’m sorry that your pet is not feeling well. Moldy food from the trash can definitely cause an upset stomach. I recommend that you take him to a veterinarian for an exam. They may want to give him an anti nausea shot. In the mean time you can offer bland food like white rice ore toasted bread in small amounts. Good luck.

Feb. 16, 2021

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Black Mouth Cur

dog-age-icon

Three Years

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

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

2 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

My dog may have eaten a small amount of mold from a bite of old canned dog food. Noticed small mold on the can cover afterward. Does he require treatment if no symptoms are present? Also, would it better to give him more (fresh) food and water or is it better for him to have less in his stomach?

Jan. 6, 2021

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

recommendation-ribbon

2 Recommendations

Hi there, thank you for your question. Most dogs have very strong stomach acid and robust gastrointestinal systems so they can typically tolerate gone off food better than us and won'y necessarily suffer ill effects from a little mold. Monitor for signs such as vomiting, diarrhoea or a reduced appetite but we wouldn't be likely to see them. I would probably let his stomach rest and not feed too much just in case.

Jan. 6, 2021

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Maltese

dog-age-icon

Twelve Years

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

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

My dog ate old lettuce from Monday and isn't feeling well and throwing up. I'm worried about her and will make an appointment with the vet, what should I do to help her?

Dec. 6, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

recommendation-ribbon

1 Recommendations

I agree a vet visit is best. Try to get her to keep something down to avoid dehydration. Bland small meals of chicken and rice with water are best. Allow her to rest and keep her on a comfortable bed in a room that isn't too hot or cold. Avoid dog food, treats and chews which may be too rich. Hopefully she is feeling better very soon.

Dec. 6, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Great Pyrenees

dog-age-icon

Five Years

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

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

None

My dog ate a backache of moldy sargento cheese slices from the garbage about 2 hours ago

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Cheese mold can be quite toxic, and it would be best to monitor your dog very closely over the next 24 hours for signs of vomiting or diarrhea, or lethargy or a decreased appetite. If any of those things are occurring, then having him seen by a veterinarian would be a good idea. I hope that all goes well!

Oct. 4, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Australian Shepherd

dog-age-icon

Two Years

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

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Tarry Stool

Hey my dog ate 5 day old moldy dog food is he gonna be ok he isn’t showing any signs

Sept. 24, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that your pet is feeling better. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 23, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Maple

dog-breed-icon

Doberman Pinscher

dog-age-icon

8 Years

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

Serious severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Shaking
Jaundice
Fever
Vomiting
Ataxia
High Liver Enzymes

My dog ate very old pasta sauce that didn't look moldy at first. It smelled good and I only saw the mold in it after it was too late. She puked for 2 days and was shaking constantly, had a hard time walking and refused to eat since. It's been 2 weeks now and she's still refusing to eat. She has mild jaundice with high liver enzymes. Her mood and energy is much better now, she runs and plays and goes for walks but the jaundice is still there (2 weeks) still refusing to eat. If she drinks a lot of water she pukes. She took meds for vomiting and appetite stimulator but she still won't eat. Shaking was controlled with Clonazepam, very low dose. I give her subcutaneous fluids everyday to keep her hydrated. She's taking herbs and supplements like SAMe, milk thistle and vitamins to help her heal and function. How long will it take for her liver function to return back to normal? I read it takes 30 days in humans for new cells to generate. When will she start eating on her own? Will she recover completely from this?

dog-name-icon

Artemis

dog-breed-icon

Cocker Spaniel

dog-age-icon

6 Years

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

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Tremors

Artie found some moldy bread in the garden (likely hidden by another creature) and carried it around in her mouth. It doesn't appear that she took a chuck off of it and ate it. She has been drinking a lot of water and her body tremors no matter what she is doing. How long do I need to monitor this to make sure she is okay or when do most symptoms present that I need to be aware of for further action. Thank you!

dog-name-icon

Bella

dog-breed-icon

Dachshund

dog-age-icon

9 Months

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

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

1 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Seizure

My puppy is at the vets. On Tuesday she started shaking, just thought she was scared of something. Then shaking was worse wed and Thursday. Thursday took her to the vets at 6pm. They said she was having a seizure, they put her on IV fluids for 4 days, and steroids after she was still shaking 3 days. She is still shaky a little when they watch her from across the room. But when she is stimulated she can't control her shaking. How long would it take for her to get better. Is this normal to take so long, was I too late to take her to the vet.?

Moldy Food (Mycotoxins) Poisoning Average Cost

From 79 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$1,000

How can we help your pet?