Telling tails…


What is 1080?

1080 (pronounced ten-eighty) is a solution containing a synthetic toxic compound (sodium fluoroacetate) based on the same toxin found in more than 30 different native Australian plants. It is commonly used in prepared or fresh meat or grain-based baits. The toxin is highly biodegradable so is broken down by natural soil bacteria over time (1-2 weeks under average conditions, but faster in hot and humid weather).



Why is 1080 used?

In Australia, 1080 is targeted at rabbits, wild dogs, foxes, feral pigs and feral cats to manage their populations and protect native wildlife and livestock. It is used for baiting feral species in Australia because our native species are relatively resistant to it (as they have evolved with it present in native plants), meaning that ferals can be removed without poisoning our unique Australian wildlife.



Where is 1080 used?

Commonly in National Parks, near beaches, on private land or anywhere that pest animals are threatening native wildlife or livestock. As a pet owner, stay vigilant and look out for warning signage for recent baiting. That said, baits may be picked up and spread by birds so don’t rely on baits only being present in signed areas. The toxin is assumed to stay active for around 4 weeks after distribution.



How much 1080 does it take to poison a dog?

Dogs are particularly susceptible to 1080 poisoning and may be poisoned directly by eating baits or indirectly by scavenging on poisoned carcasses. Unfortunately, 1080 poisoning is commonly lethal due to the delayed yet severe effects, but is treatable in early or mild cases.

The LD50 of pure 1080 is 0.11 mg/kg for dogs, meaning that a dose of 0.11 mg/kg would be lethal for 50% of dogs. Baits are recommended to contain 6mg of 1080, which would be lethal to most dogs up to 60kg, but this can vary. On a practical basis, as different baits contain different concentrations of the toxin, it is safest to assume that any dose ingested could be lethal.

1080 must be digested in order to cause toxicity, meaning that most clinical signs occur 30 minutes to 12 hours after ingestion. But, this also means that the vomit of an affected animal can be immediately toxic, so ensuring that other pets don’t have access to an affected animal or their vomit is imperative.



What are the signs of 1080 poisoning in dogs?

Signs can appear 30 minutes to 12 hours after ingestion, with the timing and severity of signs depending on the dosage consumed. After the onset of clinical signs, they tend to progress quickly, making it very difficult to treat or save a dog that is already showing signs, even if a veterinary hospital is just around the corner.

Signs include:

  • disorientation or anxiety
  • frenzied behaviour such as running or howling
  • hypersensitivity to sound or light
  • failure to respond to owner
  • vomiting
  • urinating and defecating inappropriately
  • unconsciousness
  • sudden death



I think my dog just ate something, what should I do?

  1. Act immediately. Don’t wait for your dog to show symptoms, which could take 30 minutes to 12 hours to occur. Better outcomes occur from faster intervention and treatment.
  2. Induce vomiting immediately, but ONLY if your dog is fully conscious and not showing any clinical signs. There are risks associated with making your dog vomit.
  3. Call your closest vet or the Australian Animal Poisons Helpline on 1300 869 738. Treatment is possible in early or mild cases, so drive carefully but get to a veterinary hospital quickly. Provide the vet with the following information:
    1. What poison or bait they ate
    2. An estimate of how much bait was eaten
    3. The time that your dog likely ate the bait
    4. Your dog’s weight
    5. If your dog has any existing health conditions or is on any medications



How to make a dog vomit:

  • Always contact a veterinarian for advice first. Some situations and poisons can cause more problems if vomiting occurs.
  • DO NOT induce vomiting if your dog is already showing signs of toxicity.
  • Salt water is no longer recognised as a safe way to induce vomiting as it can cause salt toxicity.
  • The safest method is Hydrogen Peroxide 3% – this can be purchased at a supermarket or pharmacy. Ensure that it is not expired by pouring a little down the sink and watch for bubbling. If there is no bubbling then it is unlikely to work. Do not use hydrogen peroxide in cats.
  • Use a syringe to give 1ml of 3% hydrogen peroxide per 1kg of your dog’s weight into their mouth (example: a 5kg dog will get 5ml; a 10kg dog will get 10ml; a 20kg dog will get 20ml). Do not give more than 60ml per dog as this can cause other problems.
  • The peroxide may start foaming in their mouth and within 5 to 10 minutes your dog will likely start licking their lips, drooling and looking nauseous.
  • Most dogs will vomit within 15 minutes.
  • If no vomit occurs after 15 minutes, repeat the same dose.
  • Most dogs will vomit a few times then stop within 45 minutes. If vomiting continues, then seek veterinary assistance.
  • Make sure your dog and other pets cannot access or eat the vomit.
  • Wearing gloves, collect a sample of the vomit to take to a vet.
  • Call a veterinarian for advice as further assessment and treatment will likely be required.



Prevention is better than treatment:

  • Be vigilant. Be aware of areas where 1080 may be used. Local councils should have a record of any planned recent baiting, so call ahead before visiting a new location.
  • If you’re camping or walking in an unknown area, keep your dog on a short lead or in an enclosed area. Don’t allow them to roam freely without supervision. That includes to go to the toilet.
  • Teach your dog to wear a muzzle. A basket-style muzzle is best as it allows your dog to pant and drink whilst wearing it. Do not use restrictive muzzles that hold your dog’s mouth closed, they do not allow panting so your dog is at high risk of overheating (especially if exercising, in warm weather or if they are a brachycephalic (short-nosed) breed). Muzzles are useful for all dogs, but imperative if your dog likes to scavenge and eat random things.
  • Carry a pet first aid kit. Add a bottle of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide to your Pet First Aid Kit when travelling to use as a first aid measure if necessary.



Can cats be poisoned by 1080?

Cats are slightly less susceptible to 1080 poisoning (the LD50 for cats is about 0.28mg/kg) but feral cat baits are recommended to contain 2mg of 1080 per gram of bait as a lethal dose, so this is still only 1.2mg of 1080 (or 0.6g of bait) that would be lethal to the average 4kg cat.

The main symptoms of 1080 poisoning in cats are disorientation and lethargy, followed by death.

The positive is that cats are much less likely to scavenge like a dog, so less likely to eat something random like a bait. Cats are also less likely to be allowed to roam in a travel situation. That said, some cats will do both if given the chance, so it is worth keeping them contained or supervised on a lead at all times if you’re in a high risk location.

Do not use hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting in cats. Cats respond differently to medications and chemicals used to induce vomiting – hydrogen peroxide has a high potential for causing internal gut damage in cats. Unfortunately, there are no safe ways to induce vomiting in a cat at home.

If you suspect that your cat has eaten a bait or something that they shouldn’t, get them to your closest veterinary hospital as soon as possible for medical treatment.


* The above information is provided to inform and educate, it does not replace individual veterinary advice for your pet. Always seek veterinary advice before inducing vomiting as some toxic effects and health conditions can be made more severe by vomiting. Inducing vomiting in animals is associated with risks that should be assessed and managed by a veterinarian.


Some dogs happily jump into the car, sit quietly, are relaxed and enjoy the ride or snooze the kilometres away. Others aren’t so keen. So, whether you’re just needing to take a quick trip to the park or would like your dog to feel safe on a longer car journey, there are a few things to consider before heading off.

If you are planning a big driving trip or holiday then give yourself, and your dog, plenty of time to work on a solution prior to your planned departure date.

If you have a new puppy, be sure to include car travel as part of the many types of socialisation and situations that they regularly experience between 8 and 14 weeks of age. If your puppy seems travel sick, seek veterinary advice to support them and ensure that car rides remain as a positive experience. This will help them to enjoy car travel as they grow up.


How do I know if my dog doesn’t like car rides?

There are many varied signs that your dog may not be enjoying car journeys, which may include:

  • reluctance to jump into the car
  • yawning
  • lip licking
  • drooling
  • panting
  • vocalising (whimpering, barking or howling)
  • hyperactive or ‘crazy’ behaviour
  • hiding
  • trying to escape
  • inappropriately toileting
  • destructive behaviour (chewing, biting, digging)
  • vomiting or diarrhoea, during or after the car trip


Why doesn’t my dog like travelling in the car?

The two main reasons why dogs don’t like being in a car are true motion sickness and anxiety. Other reasons for reluctance to get into the car include painful conditions like arthritis meaning that your dog won’t want to jump up or climb as it hurts. Knowing how to approach the situation and treat your dog is dependent on knowing the underlying cause.


What can I do to help my dog?

If your dog is showing any of the above signs when you try to take them in the car, then a consultation with your veterinarian is the first step. Your vet can help to assess whether illness or pain may be contributing to the problem as well as differentiating between motion sickness and anxiety. They can then make suggestions for behavioural training and/or medication based on your individual dog.

Puppies commonly suffer from true motion sickness and tend to grow out of it. Although some adult dogs may feel nauseous and drool or vomit in the car too. Providing a firm booster seat for your dog to see out the front window, ginger (in the form of a gingernut cookie or Blackmores Travel Calm Ginger tablet) or anti-nausea medication from your veterinarian prior to travel can help in these cases.

A solution will only work if it’s targeting the underlying cause so there is no magic general answer for all dogs.


After ruling out pain and illness, here’s a training approach that you may wish to try:

  1. Start small. With the car turned off, get your dog to sit in the car and give a reward or treat for being calm, if they seem nervous then give a command first (like ‘shake paws’ or ‘lie down’) and reward immediately for following the instruction. Repeat: get them out of the car, hop back in, command and reward. Repeat 5 times and again every couple of days, increasing the time spent in the car each time. Continue to repeat until they are showing no signs or reluctance or nervousness. Do not reward nervous behaviour and never tell your dog off or punish them – if it’s not working then remove him/her from the situation as they may need extra help to combine with this strategy (see the next section below).
  2. If this first step is working and your dog can repeatedly get into the car and act calmly, progress to doing the same thing then start the car. If your dog is calm, reward. If your dog shows signs of nervousness, give a command and reward. If your dog is too nervous and not responding, stop the car and return to Step 1 for a bit longer.
  3. Progress to small car trips. Different dogs respond differently, you may need to start just rolling the car a few metres forwards before stopping, you might get to the end of the drive way, or drive to the end of your street. Continue to praise and reward calm behaviour, distract nervous behaviour with a command and reward, or stop and return to the previous step if your dog is not coping. Once your dog is comfortable with small car trips, drive to a fun spot like the dog park to reward them.
  4. Once your dog is more comfortable with progressively longer trips, you can reduce rewards to every second or third time and replace them with praise, pats or cuddles.
  5. Great work! Dog training can be intensive and hard work but it’s well worth it and you’ll be rewarded by many happy years spent with your adoring companion.


If your pet needs a bit of extra help then some natural anxiety support may be considered:

These support items should be used in conjunction with behavioural training, as outlined above. You can try one or combine a few, whatever works for your dog.

  • Bring their favourite toy, blanket or an old t-shirt that you have been wearing (so it smells like you)
    • Familiarity and a bit of distraction can help calm the nerves.
  • If your dog is crate trained, look at fitting their crate or a smaller travel crate into the car
    • Your dog already views their crate as their safe place so this may provide them with reassurance.
  •  ThunderShirt
    • A body wrap that provides gentle constant pressure and may stimulate calming hormones.
  • Bach Rescue Remedy for Pets
    • A homeopathic herbal remedy which promotes stress relief. This can be used on a random basis on days that it is needed or daily.
  • Adaptil collar or spray
    • A synthetic dog pheramone based on one that a mother dog releases for her puppies helping them to feel safe and secure. This can be used on a random basis on days that it is needed or daily.
  • Blackmores Paw Complete Calm
    • Contains nutritional supplements which may reduce stress and anxiety. A better result would be seen if used for a few days in a row or daily.
  • Zylkene capsules
    • A natural product derived from casein, a milk protein, which helps promote relaxation. This works best if given daily or a few days in a row. Dr Tania has personally seen good results with this product but it’s not effective in all dogs.


What if none of these things work?

Remember, some dogs will respond faster than others. If your dog is responding positively, albeit slowly or with hiccups, to natural products and training then continue. But, some dogs, usually those prone to anxiety or who have had a bad experience in the car, may need a little bit of extra help requiring prescription medication. Forcing your dog to do something that he/she is scared of or using punishment will only make the problem worse, so if they don’t seem to be improving then seek further veterinary advice.

Have a chat to your veterinarian or a specialist behavioural veterinarian about further training and/or medications which may be suitable for your individual dog. Some dogs may require further investigations, like a blood test or x-ray, to rule out medical issues or ensure that certain anti-anxiety medications are safe for them.

As with all behavioural issues, the sooner that help is started, the less of a ‘bad habit’ that the behaviour becomes and the easier it is to manage or overcome.

For extra peace of mind when out and about, make sure you have packed your Vet in a Van – Navigator Pet First Aid Kit in the car.

*None of the mentioned products are recommended or sponsored by Dr Tania or Vet in a Van, they are only listed as possible options that may help with mild travel anxiety or motion sickness. Different products will suit different dogs. Please chat to your Veterinarian if you are unsure or before giving any medication (natural, herbal or pharmaceutical) to your dog as they may interact with medications that your dog is already on or affect underlying health conditions.


Amongst the devastation caused by recent rain and flooding on the eastern coast of Australia, a naughty little bacteria called Leptospira has reared it’s head again and an increase in animal and human illness has resulted. If you’ve spent time in the tropics of the Northern Territory or Queensland then this is a bug that you’re probably already familiar with but it has also had a history of popping up in other parts of the country too.

What is leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that can infect both humans and animals. It is caused by a bacteria (genus Leptospira) that thrives in moist and humid areas, and is spread through animal urine and animal tissue. Rats are the most common carrier but mice and some wildlife are also a risk.

Leptospirosis is a common problem in areas after flooding or heavy rainfall, which is why most cases in northern Australia occur during the wet season.

How is leptospirosis transmitted?

You or your pet can catch leptospirosis if you are bitten by a carrier or if you come into contact with water, mud or soil that has been contaminated with infected urine. For example, if a rat urinates into a body of water and your pet drinks that water, they are at risk of infection.

The bacteria can also enter the body through cuts in the skin or occasionally via the gums, mouth, nose and eyes. So a dog that swims in infected water or even just stands in infected mud is at risk.

Cats are more likely to become infected by eating infected rodents or their carcasses.

Sugarcane and banana plantations are recognised as a high risk areas due to their attraction of rodents. 

Traditionally, farms are a risk as cattle and pigs can transmit leptospirosis, but most commercial farms vaccinate their animals so it’s mainly backyard or lifestyle properties with a few animals that may not be vaccinated that pose a risk.

What are the symptoms of leptospirosis?

The incubation period, from infection to signs appearing, is approximately 7 days (although they can be seen between 1-14 days).

Leptospirosis mainly affects the liver and kidneys. Signs of leptospirosis in dogs and cats include being generally unwell, lethargic, have a mild fever, walking stiffly or reluctant to move, refusal to eat, vomiting or diarrhoea, increased thirst or urination and jaundice.

Owners are encouraged to be especially mindful of these symptoms if their dog has recently been in contact with a body of stagnant water, areas where wildlife inhabit, near a rodent infestation or if their cat likes to hunt rodents. Please seek immediate veterinary treatment for your pet if you notice any of the above signs and think your pet may be at risk.

How long does the Leptospira bacteria survive for?

Leptospirosis bacteria can survive in moist or humid areas for months. Reservoir hosts (such as rats) allow for the continued spread and contamination of the environment.

How do I prevent my pet from catching it?

Preventing pets from drinking or swimming in stagnant water and avoiding areas where rats, mice, wildlife or farm animals congregate is advisable. Owners are encouraged to get their pets vaccinated against leptospirosis at their local veterinary clinic if their pets are visiting or living in high risk areas.

There are different strains of leptospirosis bacteria which occur in certain areas and different vaccines for each strain. Local veterinarians will stock the vaccine relevant to their area. An initial 2 doses are given, 4 weeks apart, then 6 or 12 monthly boosters will vary with vaccine type and individual risk factors. Generally, one vaccine (Auslepto) covers the main Leptospira strain in the Northern Territory and Queensland, and another vaccine (Protech C2i) covers the main Leptospira strain in NSW and Victoria.

Cases have been previously reported in the Northern Territory, Queensland, Northern NSW, around Sydney and eastern Victoria.

Can leptospirosis be treated?

If caught early, yes, leptospirosis responds to antibiotic treatment and supportive care. But the disease may be severe with long term damage done to kidneys, liver and other organs so early treatment is most effective and intensive care may be necessary.

Am I at risk of catching leptospirosis?

Leptospirosis is a zoonosis, meaning that it is a disease that can be passed from animals to people. So, keeping your dog safe and healthy plays a part in keeping you and your human family members safe as well.

Symptoms in humans can include fever, severe headache, sore muscles, chills, vomiting and red eyes.

What should I do now?

For the majority of the population, leptospirosis is not something to be worried about, just be aware and proactive for prevention. If you are travelling or living in a high risk area with your dog then vaccination is advisable.

Chat to your veterinarian about whether vaccination is appropriate for your dog and situation.


For peace of mind, keep a Vet in a Van – Navigator Pet First Aid Kit at home and in your car.

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