What is Garbage Gut?

Our question this week was:

My dog got really sick and my vet called the condition garbage gut. Do you know anything about this condition?


Barry H. – New Orleans, LA


Hi – thanks for your email. Garbage toxicosis, or commonly called "Garbage Gut", refers to a condition caused by dogs that get into the trash and eat food or garbage contaminated with bacteria and potentially with bacterial toxins. Ingestion of spoiled food is often contaminated with bacteria and bacterial toxins that can cause severe and even life threatening signs.

After ingestion, various bacteria (including Streptococcus spp, Salmonella spp., Escherichia coli, Clostridium perfringens and/or "Bacillus spp.) are present in the gastrointestinal tract and can produce toxins that are absorbed into the blood stream. These bacteria can produce toxins that cause shock, collapse and death. Seizures and high fevers can result from some toxins.
Garbage Gut is most common in indoor/outdoor or outdoor dogs that are allowed to roam, as they are most likely to be exposed to and ingest spoiled foods. This can also be caused by people that feed dogs food unfit for human consumption and in dogs fed raw food diets. An article that might be helpful to you is Garbage Gut in Dogs.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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