1080 in this case does not refer to full high definition video, but the catalogue number of the poison sodium fluoroacetate (or more commonly referred to as “ten eighty”). While banned in most countries worldwide, 1080 is available in Australia under strict regulations by government agencies. A white tasteless powder (that looks like flour) and highly toxic to most species. It is used to control a range of pest animals (such as foxes, rabbits, feral pigs) in Australia. For example, 1080 has been used in large-scale eradication programs in Australia such as in May 2005 for control of wallabies on King’s Island and in 2011 for the eradication of red foxes in Tasmania. The most recent program involving 1080 was initiated in 2018 to control the population of feral cats in Kangaroo Island. 

Although 1080 is aimed at controlling non-native species in Australia, domestic dogs and cats are highly susceptible to 1080 poisoning. The best way to prevent pets from being poisoned is through keeping them away from any poison source. However, this is not always that easy hence it is important for pet owners to recognise the signs of 1080 poisoning in order to respond in a timely manner to improve your pet’s chance of survival.

Even a little bite CAN hurt 

Only a small dose of 1080 is needed to cause fatality to our pets. The lethal dose for dogs is 0.06mg/kg and 0.4mg/kg for cats. When compared to humans who have a lethal dose of 2mg/kg, the amount required to cause fatality in our pets is significantly less. Pets can be poisoned through ingestion of the bait, poisoned carcasses or toxic vomit. For example, a dead pademelon can hold enough 1080 to poison approximately 12 dogs or 9 cats.  and humans and to reduce the chance of being poisoned. Such measures include:Therefore precautionary measures should be taken to ensure the safety of both pets

  • Keeping baits in secure containers and far from food-stuffs, children and dogs. The concept of this is that the harder it is to get to something, the lower the chances of being poisoned.
  • Using muzzles on your dog when venturing to areas you are unfamiliar of. This can help prevent your dog from scavenging carcases (that might be poisoned), baits or toxic vomit.
  • When not working, dogs should be kennelled in pens or tethered in runs
  • Supervise dogs when off lead
  • Remove any carcasses safely and dispose of them appropriately. Carnivores (including your dog) have a liking for the organs where 1080 poison is present in larger concentrations. Such as the stomach, liver, heart, lung, kidneys and brain. Therefore, having access to dead carcasses would increase their susceptibility to secondary poisoning.
  • Inform neighbours if you are using any bait. Provide them with the information of when, where and for how long you are baiting for and communicate that they do the same if they are baiting. Appropriate signs are compulsory on your property on land where baiting occurs.
  • If using 1080 or any pesticides on your property, always ensure you follow the directions for use on the label
  • Ensure you have telephone numbers for local vets and are aware of first aid information in case of a poisoning

Remember to wear gloves when handling any material that could contain the poison (carcasses, the poison bait, toxic vomit) as it is toxic to humans as well. 

What signs to look for?

1080 affects the nervous system and thus symptoms of nervous distress can be seen in dogs, cats and even humans that are poisoned. 1080 is a slow-kill pesticide. Signs of poisoning are usually noticed within 30 minutes to 180 minutes of ingestion depending on the amount ingested, the animal’s body temperature and rate of digestion. However, it has been reported that signs may take longer to appear (some have reported as long as 6 hours and 20 hours). So even if your pet does not show any signs and you suspect they have been poisoned, bring them to the vet immediately. 

First symptoms you might observe in an animal poisoned by 1080 include vomiting, anxiety, disorientation and shaking. These can rapidly develop into disorientated behaviour with running and screaming fits. Failure to respond, drooling at the mouth, difficulty in breathing, uncontrolled convulsions and seizures, followed by total collapse and in the worse case, death. 

Ingestion of 1080 = emergency

Ingestion of 1080 is an emergency and time is of the essence. If you have seen or suspect your pet has ingested 1080, immediately bring them to the nearest vet. Stay calm and call your vet to inform them of your arrival to allow them to make the appropriate arrangements. Your vet might advise you on how to induce vomiting in your pet safely (if your pet has not). When transporting your pet, wrap your pet tightly in a blanket or bag. Or place it in a box to protect them from injuring themselves and you. Try to keep your pet as quiet as possible. If they are hot, spray your pet or the blanket with water to keep them cool. If possible, bring the bait ingested/toxic vomit or the packaging of the poison (remember to use gloves).

Currently, there is no antidote for 1080 but vets can help increase the chance of your pet’s survival through supportive therapy.