Did you know that macadamia nuts are poisonous to dogs? At Vetwest Animal Hospitals we have seen several cases over the last few months. Candy is a 3 year old Chihuahua who presented to Vetwest Whitfords unable to walk. Her owner reported that whilst she was eating macadamia nuts the previous night, she shared them with Candy, who gladly accepted them. Candy did not show any signs of poisoning, until the next morning, when she was unable to walk. Her owner rushed her down to the hospital. After seeing Dr Rudolf Oosthuizen, one of the veterinarians on duty, a diagnosis of macadamia nut poisoning was made and Candy was admitted in to the hospital for treatment.
Candy was placed on intravenous fluids, administered through a small catheter in her front leg vein. She was also given activated charcoal, by mouth, to help bind the toxin in her intestines and prevent further absorption of the poison. Her clinical signs improved steadily throughout the day and she went home later that afternoon after making a full recovery.
Ingestion of macadamia nuts by dogs has been associated with a non-fatal syndrome, characterised by vomiting, ataxia or weakness, fever, muscle tremors and depression. Dogs are the only species in which signs have been reported.
Macadamia nuts are cultivated from Macadamia integrifolia in the USA and Macadamia tetraphylla in Hawaii and Australia. The mechanism of toxicity is not known, meaning we are not 100% sure why dogs are affected. Dogs need to ingest more than 2g of nuts per kilogram body weight before signs are shown.
Diagnosis is usually based on the history of exposure (normally within 12 hours of ingestion), along with the clinical signs. Macadamia nuts may also be identified in the vomitus or faeces. In addition there could be a mild increase in liver enzymes, but this quickly returns to normal.
There is no specific antidote available for this toxin but fortunately most dogs will recover with supportive treatment and nursing care, which includes intravenous fluids, pain relief and anti-fever medications.
There are a number of other poisons that can also cause similar signs. View a few articles below related to common household and garden poisons/ toxins.
Remember if you are uncertain if something is safe to give to your pet, please contact your nearest Vetwest Animal Hospital for advice.