September 14, 2023

Just how dangerous are pufferfish to dogs?

Just how dangerous are pufferfish to dogs?
Dr. Chris Brown

When your golden rule is ‘see it…lick it’, coming across a dead pufferfish on the beach might understandably cause some stress. But just how dangerous is this famous fish to your dog? The answer is below…

It turns out the super-sized reputation for this seafood may actually have some basis. Yes, even though TV shows may have convinced you that cats truly have nine lives, this one is actually true. Surprise!

Chewing or even just licking at a dead pufferfish can result in signs that naturally depend on just how intense their curiosity around this creature from the deep gets. And it’s all thanks to a neurotoxin with the rather ominous sounding name, Tetrodotoxin.

So why is the pufferfish so toxic? Well, blame paranoia. This is a bite sized fish that knows it’s on the menu for so many other fish, birds and even humans. Because if the spikes and the inflation weren’t enough, their flesh also contains the toxin designed to severely incapacitate that diner.

So here are the likely effects…

If it’s just a sniff?

Nothing. Relax, you should be fine…

If it’s just a lick?

Signs ranging from nothing to…

  • Numb lips
  • Excess salivation
  • Panting
  • Lethargy

If it’s a chew or swallow?

Obviously things become more significant…

  • Vomiting
  • Trembling and tremors
  • Loss of balance
  • Breathing difficulties

Through to paralysis, coma and even sadly, if the amount of fish is too much, death.

It’s a lot for what could have been a carefree trip to the beach. So it’s important to pay attention to what’s washed ashore overnight when you’re on that morning walk. And if it’s spiky like a pufferfish, clip that lead on and walk away. That decision could save a whole lot of heartache…

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