Cholinesterase is an enzyme that plays an important role in a dog's nervous system. Some commercial insecticides often used for controlling fleas and ticks in yards and other outdoor areas contain compounds that interfere with the body's cholinesterase activity. While these pesticides are intended to affect pesky bugs, they can also cause serious harm to you and your dog.
Role of Cholinesterase
Much like a human being, a dog's body is controlled by signals sent from the brain. Signals are initiated by a chemical called acetylcholine and stopped by acetylcholinesterase, a form of cholinesterase. For the dog's system to function properly, these two enzymes must be in proper balance.
Symptoms of Cholinesterase Inhibition
If your dog is exposed to a pesticide that inhibits cholinesterase, the nerves will not be able to stop firing and sending signals. You might see muscle twitching and trembling, convulsions or paralyzed breathing. Other symptoms might include vomiting, diarrhea, salivation and changes in behavior. In sever cases, dogs may die from cholinesterase inhibiting poisons.
Common cholinesterase inhibitors that your dog may come into contact with are organophosphates and carbamates and can enter a body by touching the skin, inhaling them or eating them. Organophosphates are found in some flea and tick pesticides as well as yard pesticides. For example, dogs are commonly exposed to disulfoton as it is often used in rose products.
Treatment and Prevention
If your dog shows symptoms of poisoning, contact your veterinarian for treatment. Some treatment options include inducing vomiting and giving activated charcoal to prevent further absorption of the cholinesterase inhibitor. Additional treatments may be necessary to stop tremors, convulsions or other symptoms of poisoning. Prevent exposure to pesticides containing cholinesterase inhibitors by thoroughly researching all products before use. Don't use pesticides near pets or their food and water. Finally, follow the instructions on the label and heed warnings carefully.
- Cornell University: Cholinesterase Inhibition
- Czech Academy of Agricultural Sciences Agriculture Journals: Poisoning with Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitors in Dogs: Two Case Reports
- Veterinary Support Personnel Network: Small Animal Toxicoses - Insecticides
- Natural Resource and Defense Council: Poisons on Pets
- EPA: Read the Label First: Protect Your Pets
- Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images