WA Veterinary Emergency & Specialty

Blowfish Toxicity

Blowfish (blowies) and their toxic cousins (globe fish, puffer fish, toad fish and fugu) contain tetrodotoxin which causes paralysis after these fish are eaten by humans, dogs or other animals. The same toxin is found in blue-ringed octopus bites and fugu. The onset of paralysis can be extremely rapid occurring within minutes or delayed for up to 8 hours. Occasionally dogs who eat these fish will start to vomit as the toxin starts to be absorbed from their gut and if they vomit up all parts of the fish, this can help prevent them developing paralysis. However, in some dogs there will be too much toxin rapidly absorbed from their gut and they will develop paralysis which can progress to stopping breathing. At this point to prevent death, dogs need to be placed on a ventilator (life support) until the toxin is out of their body. The amount of toxin in an individual fish cannot be predicted and even tiny blowfish can be lethal if eaten.

If your dog eats a blow fish we recommend you immediately take our dog to a veterinarian to induce vomiting and potentially have activated charcoal administered to decrease the chance of toxin absorption. When possible call you veterinarian or WAVES on 94125700 first to let them know you are coming. If your dog stops breathing, then giving mouth to nose breathing can help to keep them alive enroute to the vet hospital.

Mouth to nose breathing is done by lying your dog on its side, extend the head and neck forwards and close the mouth. Wrap your hands around the mouth to keep it closed. Form a seal over the nostrils with your lips and breathe into the nostrils sufficiently to see the chest rise a normal amount. Give one breath every 10 seconds.

As a community service if you are walking on a dog beach and you see any dead blowfish, please place them in the bin, to help minimise the chance of any dog eating these tasty toxic fish.