Molly's compost binge

Poor Molly, how was she to know that eating compost would cause her to have such disastrous effects? Molly is a 10 year old Jack Russell Terrier cross. Last month her parents had decided to do some gardening. The compost bin was full of the usual household and garden refuse that makes great compost, and had been brewing and fermenting over several months. At around 2pm on a lovely autumn afternoon, Molly's mum spread the compost around the garden, following good horticultural practice. While the putrid compost looked very unappealing to us, Molly thought it was a great treat for her!

By 4pm Molly had become very quiet and subdued. Soon she had started to tremble and was brought to the clinic immediately. Following a thorough clinical examination and establishing that she had had access to the compost that afternoon, toxin ingestion was the diagnosis made.

It is interesting to note how the different toxins produced by bacteria in rotting food and garbage can produce an array of symptoms in our pets. Vomiting and diarrhoea are common after effects (as many of us have experienced with food poisoning). But in Molly's (and many others') case, her main presenting sign was trembling. This was due to a tremor causing toxin produced by the bacteria in the compost which was affecting her nervous system. Molly's symptoms progressed to include photophobia (excessive sensitivity to light) and noise phobia. Any loud noise would exacerbate her tremors to the point of panic like behaviour. While the clinic was kept as dark and quiet as possible (we even took our shoes off and walked around in our socks), Molly was given medications to induce vomiting. The volume of compost that she had managed to squeeze into her little tummy was quite amazing! She was placed on intravenous fluid support and nursed and comforted by our wonderful nursing team until her symptoms started to subside. Medication was given intravenously to control the tremors.

We are pleased to report that Molly made a full recovery and her parents are more careful with their gardening practices now.

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