The Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) has a rich history. Over the 50 plus years we have existed, TVMDL professionals have worked tirelessly to provide the most accurate and up to date resources to our clients. The following excerpt is part of an ongoing series of articles written by TVMDL’s first director, Dr. William Sippel, and other professionals from the earlier days of TVMDL. Some articles were written for features in The Cattleman publication where others were case studies over recent diagnoses of the time. We hope you enjoy this look back on TVMDL’s history.
Musings from 1 Sippel Road: Small Animal Toxicology
By Robert W. Sprowls, DVM, PhD
Toxic problems associated with small animals usually result from accidental exposure to a poisonous compound. In many instances, problems may. occur because pet owners are unaware of the many household substances that are toxic to animals and as a result adequate precautionary measures are not taken to avoid exposure.
Accidental poisonings of household animals frequently result from the ingestion of pesticides, aspirin (cats), mothballs (naphthalene), caustic cleaning chemicals and even toxic ornamental plants.
Poisoning problems of small animals maintained bait ore poisoned rodents. The most commonly encountered compounds are thallium, sodium fluroacetate (1080), strychnine and warfarin. When rodenticide poisonings are suspected, samples of liver, kidney, urine and stomach contents should be submitted to Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory for chemical analysis. Problems with arsenic poisoning may also be frequently encountered. Samples of choice for chemical analysis include urine, feces, liver, kidney, and spleen.
Accidental poisonings with chlorinated hydrocarbon insecticides may result from improper usage in dipping or spraying or from accidental consumption. History and signs are of extreme importance since chemical analysis is usually of little diagnostic value. The same is true of organophosphorus pesticides expect blood cholinesterase levels may be of significance in fresh blood.
One of the more frequent toxicity problems of small animals encountered at Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory has been ethylene glycol (antifreeze) poisoning. Apparently many animals, when given access, will readily consume sufficient enough quantities to cause severe kidney problems. In the kidneys, glycol is converted to oxalate crystals which produce kidney tubular obstruction and degeneration. The kidney care usually pale and swollen on gross examination. The duration of illness may vary but is usually less than 2 days. Clinical signs may include vomition (sic), incoordination, paresis of hindquarters, blindness, subnormal temperature, coma, polyuria, intense thirst and dehydration. Histopathological lesions in the kidney are pathognomonic of this condition. In addition, a procedure for the detection of oxalates in urine will soon be available at the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory.