A Bedfordshire family's dog was left poisoned and unable to stand after wolfing down mouldy bread.
Three-year-old Bella grabbed the food from a bag of rubbish while no-one was looking.
The consequences - uncontrollable shaking, seizuring and collapse - left poor Bella on the brink of death.
But thanks to her quick-thinking family and round-the-clock care from Vets Now in Barton-le-Clay, Bella has made a full recovery.
Now her relieved owner Ana Canovas has issued a warning to owners about the danger of old and mouldy food.
Bella was suffering from a condition called tremorgenic mycotoxicosis, which is a severe and potentially deadly. It typically affects dogs with indiscriminate eating habits and is more common than many owners think.
Ana said: “I can’t thank the Vets Now team enough. They worked constantly on Bella and they looked after me too.
“I was sick with worry and kept phoning them to see how Bella was. The staff were so patient and kind and when Bella began to improve they sent me some pictures of her to help put my mind at rest.
“I would hate for any other owner to go through what we did with our fur baby so if your dog gets hold of mouldy leftovers please get veterinary help right away.”
Bella’s drama began about 10pm when she began shaking and panting - the way she normally reacts to the loud noises of fireworks night.
Ana presumed poor Bella, who is a German Shepherd/Border Collie crossbreed, had had a fright of some sort.
But as the panting got worse, her 16-year-old son Oliver realised something more serious was wrong, shouting to Ana that he was sure Bella needed to see a vet. He was absolutely right.
After a quick phone call to the Vets Now team, Ana, Oliver and Bella were on their way from their home in Bedfordshire, to its pet emergency clinic in Barton-le-Clay.
Bella’s condition was worsening by the second with her breathing more and more laboured. Bella collapsed at the door of the clinic gripped by seizures, laying prone on her back with her paws in the air.
Vet Raquel Amils-Arnal and her team rushed Bella onto the treatment table.
Raquel, from Vets Now in Barton-le-Clay, said: “Bella was suffering from severe seizures so was immediately given some anti-seizure medication to try to control them.
“Once she was stable, we examined her thoroughly and found no other abnormalities except for rapid breathing and a high temperature.
“It became clear when talking to Ana, her owner, that mycotoxin toxicity was a possibility.
“After around 36 hours of intense treatment, including fluids, activated charcoal and a muscle relaxant medication, Bella recovered fully and was discharged.”
Raquel added: “In a severe poisoning case like this, every minute matters. So Ana and Oliver did absolutely the right thing ringing us — and credit to Oliver for realising Bella needed help.
“If your dog manages to get hold of mouldy food please seek help immediately. Acting quickly could be the difference between life and death for your pet.”
All of Vets Now’s premises always have a vet and vet nurse on site. They also offer an online video consultation service to make professional veterinary advice more easily available. While the service is not suitable for life-threatening emergencies, experienced vets are available to discuss any worries or concerns you might have.
If your pet needs an in-person follow-up appointment at any vet practice, Vets Now will refund the online consultation fee, so you never pay twice.
Mycotoxin ingestion in dogs:
> Tremorgenic mycotoxins are present in mouldy food and can make your dog extremely ill.
> Signs of mycotoxin poisoning include vomiting, restlessness, tremors and ataxia (loss of co-ordination). Severe cases can progress to seizures and coma.
> With aggressive veterinary treatment, these symptoms can resolve. However, it's vital your dog sees a vet as quickly as possible to avoid tragedy.
> Prevention tips: Keep dustbins covered / secured with baby proof locks if pets are known scavengers; Secure garden compost in enclosed bins; Ensure animal grains (such as dried dog food, chicken feed, etc) are not allowed to become damp and mouldy, and storage containers are cleaned and disinfected regularly.