The AHL Toxicology section serves Ontario by safeguarding public and animal health with rapid, reliable identification of animal toxicants that can affect animals and/or humans, and analyses of animal feeds and animal-based foods possibly contaminated with synthetic chemical residues or toxins. In keeping with the mission statement of the AHL, the Toxicology section strives to provide accurate results within acceptable turnaround times.

The broad spectrum of analyses provided by the Toxicology section includes both natural and synthetic toxicants, such as: mycotoxins, environmental toxins, pesticides, rodenticides, drugs, anions and heavy metals, performed on a variety of matrices.  The laboratory also provides analyses for nutritionally-relevant compounds such as vitamins and trace metals.

The laboratory also provides case consultation and may assist in field investigations of possible animal toxicosis.  We have active test development for emerging toxicants using state-of-the-art methodology.

The goals of any toxicology investigation should be to

  • Identify the source(s) of the toxicant, and confirm exposure.
  • Identify factors contributing to morbidity/mortality.
  • Assess the level of contamination.
  • Assess possible interventions.
  • Assess any risk to the food chain.

Some questions to consider:

  • Are feed and chemical storage containers on premises labelled properly?
  • Are feeds stored with chemicals?
  • Is feed stored appropriately to prevent spoilage?
  • Is there any visible mold on or in feedstuffs, or do feedstuffs smell moldy?
  • What are the potential environmental, facilities, or home environmental risks? Are there any recent obvious changes in the environment or management?
  • Do the animals have access to trash, building materials, medicines, including those intended for other species, toxic plants, or substances provided by non-caretakers?

Submitting cases for postmortem examination

  • Always enclose a detailed history, including clinical signs and lesions.
  • Include tentative diagnoses, list of drugs administered, and the response to treatments.
  • A complete history may enable us to decide which additional tests are warranted.