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Atypical time course of clinical signs in a dog poisoned by strychnine
  1. H. Meiser, DVM1 and
  2. H-W. Hagedorn, PhD1
  1. 1 Institute of Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmacy, University of Munich, Koniginstrasse 16, D-80539 Munich, Germany


The general health of a German shepherd dog had deteriorated slightly when it was found after being loose for one hour. After 10 hours of observation, the dog showed signs of pain for the first time and signs of poisoning, such as tenseness of muscles, slight opisthotonus, regurgitation, salivation, mydriasis, dyspnoea and cyanosis, were observed; it died 15 minutes after showing the first clinical signs but it had no seizures or tetanic spasms at any time. A postmortem examination did not reveal any pathological changes. A screening test for alkaloids was positive for strychnine (strychnidin-10-one). The presence of strychnine was confirmed and its concentration was determined by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry in urine (728.5 ng/ml) and in the stomach contents (44.6 μg/g). No strychnine was detected in the dog's serum, but traces of brucine (2,3-dimethoxystrychnidin-10-one), the dimethoxy derivative of strychnine, were detected. This case was compared with other strychnine poisonings recorded in the authors' laboratory over the previous six years, taking into account the species, type of samples, the clinical signs and their duration, the postmortem findings, and the concentrations of strychnine. This was the only case to show such an atypical time course of clinical signs.

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