We are saddened by the death of Jagger, the Irish setter, who had taken part in Crufts earlier this month, after probable poisoning with carbamate pesticides (carbofuran and aldicarb*). An investigation suggests that the poison was most likely eaten many hours after the dog had left Crufts.
Although the exact source of poisoning is yet to be discovered, it seems plausible that the poison was laced in meat. This was therefore a deliberate act, even if the target may have been wildlife or an unspecified animal. Deliberate poisoning of wildlife does unfortunately occur; indeed between 2003 and 2006, sixty suspicious baits were examined in the Belgian Toxicology Laboratory at Ghent University and 77% of these were found to contain pesticides. Carbofuran was the most common poison detected, followed by aldicarb, carbaryl, strychnine and chlorophacinone (Guitart et al, 2010).
In the UK, poisoning of a protected wildlife species is an offence under the UK Animal Welfare Act 2006. The motives behind wildlife poisonings are probably complex, but killing predators is certainly one of them.
Although this death is tragic and probably deliberate (if unfocused), we should remember that most poisonings in the UK in companion animals are accidental and not fatal.
VPIS’ expertise was requested in the investigation of Jagger’s case and, as a 24/7 service to veterinary professionals, VPIS helps diagnose and assist with the treatment of hundreds of cases of potential poisonings every week. The number of deaths from cases reported to us is fortunately small and the agents most likely to cause death in dogs in the UK are:
- Fabric washing liquid capsule
- Bromadiolone/Brodifacoum (rodenticides)
- Vipera berus (adder)
(Based on VPIS data from 2014)
These agents were responsible for a combined total of 14 deaths (including euthanised dogs) reported to the VPIS in 2014.
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Guitart R, Sachana M, Caloni F, Croubels S, Vandenbroucke V, Berny P. Animal poisoning in Europe. Part 3: Wildlife. Vet J. 2010;183(3):260–265. doi:10.1016/j.tvjl.2009.03.033.
*Carbofuran is banned in the EU and aldicarb is restricted as a plant protection product but banned on all other uses.