Three dogs die from eating poisonous Karaka berries

Vets are warning dog owners about the risk of toxic berries from Karaka trees after three dogs die at a vet clinic in Auckland this week from being poisoned. 

The tree is common throughout the North Island and the upper part of the South Island, bearing fruit which have a highly toxic combo of an alkaloid and a type of acid that preys on an animal's nervous system. 

Dr Mark Robson, founding partner of Veterinary Specialist group in Auckland, said they have had three dogs die this week eating the poisonous berry. 

"It's the time of year when the berries are at their ripest which means they are highly attractive to dogs," Doctor Robson said. 

He said this year seems particularly bad for toxicity, with toxin levels varying "for reasons we don't understand."

If you suspect your dog has eaten a berry from a Karaka tree, Doctor Robson said it's important to go to a vet clinic urgently.  

"Your dog may show signs of nausea and could have diarrhoea and restlessness. This quickly progresses to more severe gastrointestinal signs and neurologic signs that include pacing, limb rigidity, crying, seizures then unconsciousness." 

Source: Veterinary Specialist Group