Strychnine is included in some outdoor baits marketed for underground gopher control. It is usually dyed with a purple, red, or green color. It is highly toxic to most domestic animals and is thus considered a restricted-use pesticide. Its sale is even forbidden in several states. Dogs and cats become affected when they consume the baits.
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The lethal dose is 0.25-2 mg/kg for most animals. Signs of toxicity occur quickly (within 10 minutes – 2 hours) after consumption. Initial signs include nervousness, tenseness, and stiffness. Vomiting is rare. Severe seizures occur later and can be spontaneous or induced by touch, sound, or a bright light. Death can occur from exhaustion and lack of oxygen from the seizures in as little as 1-2 hours after showing signs.
Treatment consists mainly of supportive care. Early decontamination is recommended (inducing vomiting, activated charcoal). Medications to stop the seizures and control the tremors are given, and in severe cases, animals may need respiratory support (ventilator). Overall prognosis is guarded to poor. Clinical signs usually resolve within 48 hours if treatment is successful.