This section is from the book "Sporting Dogs. Their Points And Management In Health, And Disease", by Frank Townend Barton. Also available from Amazon: Sporting Dogs; Their Points and Management in Health and Disease.
Although a difficult poison to procure from any source, it is surprising the number of dogs that are annually poisoned by this agent.
In appearance, strychnine is a harmless-looking crystalline (or powdered) white solid, the most minute particles readily inducing muscular spasms and death.
Strychnine also occurs in the form of a buff-coloured powder, known as nux vomica, the alkaloid or active principle being strychnine.
Many gamekeepers make use of strychnine for destroying such birds as hooded crows, etc.
Farmers now and then soak maize in a solution of strychnine, in order to destroy crows in a wholesale manner.
We merely mention these facts, as showing the various sources from which a dog might accidentally get poisoned.
In a very few minutes after swallowing strychnine the dog becomes convulsed all over. The muscular spasms may completely render the dog paralytic; in fact, this usually happens. Quick and laboured breathing is soon followed by complete collapse.
So rapidly does strychnine—especially if the dog has taken a few grains—produce death, that there is seldom much chance for the employment of remedial agents, or to call professional assistance.
If there seems reasonable hopes of recovery, call in a qualified veterinary surgeon at once. Twenty grains of chloral hydrate, 25 grains each of potassium, iodide and bromide, in water, can be used in the meantime.