Dog walkers are being warned to be extra vigilant about their pets eating discarded food on Ilkley Moor are after a much-loved family pet nearly died.
Indy, a previously healthy and strong six-year-old black Labrador, was on the brink of death after eating mouldy bread found in an abandoned rubbish bag according to his owner Kerry Gibbons.
30 minutes after returning home, Indy started shaking and almost collapsed. Kerry immediately rang Ashlands Vets in Ilkley, and a veterinary team was waiting by the door when she arrived.
Indy was hospitalised and kept anaesthetised for 72 hours, with one-to-one nursing care throughout the weekend by veterinary nurses, Steph Ellis and Samantha Holmes, because of the severity of his seizures.
His condition suggested he had contracted Tremorgenic Mycotoxicosis (Mycotoxins), a fungi which causes neurotoxicosis in dogs – a life-threatening condition, causing wide-ranging symptoms from vomiting to seizures. Further diagnostic work supported that theory.
Once Indy’s seizures were under control, the team worked on his recovery, initially feeding him through a nasogastric tube until he was well enough to be tempted to eat and drink on his own. After 10 days, Indy returned home to build on his recovery as an outpatient.
Kerry and her husband Paul have paid tribute to the team, led by veterinary surgeon Stuart Black, for their dedicated care. They now want to warn others to be aware of the dangers for dogs scavenging food, and are urging picnic-makers to take their rubbish home with them.
Kerry said: “A lot of dog owners were surprised to hear that eating mouldy bread could be so devastating and life threatening.
“I retraced our steps to where Indy had disappeared and found a dustbin liner-sized bag full of very mouldy bread. I phoned Ashlands straight away and Stuart, the vet who looked after him the most, said it was that without a shadow of a doubt. The mould is very toxic.
“Indy had such a large quantity, that’s why he was so poorly. If he had been a very small dog, or a dog already poorly with existing health conditions, it could have been a very different outcome.
“Indy was extremely poorly for a very long time. The vets were amazing with the care they gave him and keeping us up to date - it is when you are kept in the dark that you start to panic. They were really level-headed in what must have been a very stressful situation. Indy was having severe seizures so they had to keep him in an induced coma for a good few days.
“It took time for the toxins to work through the system and the team supported his body while that was happening.
“He was too weak to eat despite being a Labrador. He had no energy. He didn’t have any food for about a week. When we visited, he didn’t react to us at all. The vets couldn’t give us reassurance that he would pull through; they hadn’t seen a case this bad before.
“The vets treated him as if he was their own dog. They were amazing and went above and beyond. It was a real team effort.
“It was one of the worst times of my life. Indy is a very much-loved member of the family. It was such a huge gap in the house with him not being here, knowing he was so poorly.
“We brought him home after 10 days. We had to carry him around in a blanket initially. We were worried about that but Indy has now made a full recovery.”