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Animal Welfare in Greece:

For comprehensive information on how to save poisoned animals in several languages including Greek, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese and Russian please click here.

For information on steps to take within the Greek legal system to report and prosecute animal poisoners please see here

There are many types of poisoning, of course, from venomous snake and insect bites to the accidental ingestion of chemicals and pharmaceuticals in the home. However here we will deal with the most prevalent danger of poisoning in Greece, which is that of deliberately doctored food that is put out to kill animals. Unfortunately this is still a rather common practice and each year we get terrible reports of animals being killed in this cruel and painful way.

Organophosphate poisoning:

The poisons almost always used with such devastating consequences are agricultural pesticides, which are also known as carbamate and organophosphate insecticidal chemical compounds. The symptoms of poisoning from such substances are: Fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, anorexia, depression, seizures, muscle tremors, hypersalivation, constricted pupils, increased heart rate, lack of coordination (i.e., trouble walking) respiratory failure (e.g., trouble breathing). These compounds affect neurotransmitters, resulting either in an impairment of muscle function or an unending nervous transmission that causes the tremors or seizures.

If the animal has ingested these compounds the symptoms will appear very rapidly. Obviously the best solution will be to get the animal to a vet as quickly as possible for treatment. However, living in Pelion, this is not always possible. The following emergency measures may be administered by the pet owner or concerned animal lover:

At this point if the animal’s life is no longer at risk, allow it to rest from its terrible ordeal. As a follow up treatment, administer 1/6 of a ZANTEC (150mg) tablet morning and evening for a few days, to help with stomach pain. Try to get the animal to feed. Recommended foods are beef/chicken broth with rice and lots of oil to induce diarrhoea and to continue flushing the poisons from the system. The animal will be very disoriented and it will have dilated pupils for 24 hours. If necessary, bring the animal to a vet who will administer the correct aftercare and if required, further treatment, which may include an oxygen cage if the patient is having trouble breathing, and fluid therapy if it has been unable to drink. In any case, as soon as the animal has recovered enough, a visit to the vet is mandatory to determine if there has been permanent damage caused to the kidneys.

Rat poisoning (Warfarincan):

The symptoms are vomiting and diarrhoea although sometimes there will be no symptoms at all for two to three days. Signs of internal bleeding then appear with patches or red/purple/dark blue on the body and the gums. An early warining sign can be bright green faeces as the poison is often coloured this way. Treatment involves an injection of Vitamin K (Konakion) to help clot the blood, between 5-20mg depending on the weight of the animal.

Strychnine poisoning: animals that have been poisoned with strychnine go into spasm, their pupils expand and muscles twitch. Treatment is an injection of diazepan (Valium): cats 5-10mg, dogs 10-30mg depending on size and weight.

All the above-mentioned medications are readily available in the local pharmacies. It is recommended to always have them on hand. The total cost of these medications is less than 20 euros and it will make a huge difference if they are on hand in case of an emergency. Do check the above recommended course of action with your vet and always have your vet’s emergency number at hand. You never know when you might need it.