03795 - Veterinary Toxicology

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Good health and well-being Life on land

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

Cases of animal poisoning are very frequent. Intoxication may be due to exposure to harmful substances contained in normal domestic products such as detergents, antifreeze, and garden insecticides, criminal poisoning with the use of highly toxic agents, like strychnine, or poisoning from environment contaminants. Acute intoxication often requires immediate action if the animal is to survive; once the incriminated agent is identified, specific therapy must ensue.

The course aims to provide the student with knowledge and know-how that will be useful in the clinical setting in the years following graduation, namely how to:.

· approach an animal correctly to guarantee the veterinarian's own and the animal's safety;

· give emergency treatment to stabilize the animal regardless of the specific toxin causing the clinical signs;

· collect animal clinical history data correctly;

· identify and refer the signs and symptoms displayed by the animal with a view to identifying the toxin in question;

· take samples (gastric content, blood, urine) in order to have the diagnosis of poisoning confirmed by chemical lab analyses.

The aim of the course is to present and describe the sources of toxins, their mechanism of action, clinical signs and symptoms, and the attendant therapy.

In addition, some hours of teaching will also be dedicated to the problem of residues contained in foodstuffs of animal origin as a result of pharmacological treatment or due to environmental contamination.

1) Learning outcomes

The “Veterinary Toxicology” course aims to provide students with useful information that will allow them to assess the likelihood of poisoning when making a differential diagnosis, and be familiar with the procedures and therapy to implement in the event of poisoning. Information will also be provided on how to take samples, from both live and dead animals, in order to obtain laboratory confirmation of the toxic agent in question.

At the conclusion of the course, the student should have acquired:

· KNOWLEDGE AND COMPREHENSION SKILLS: the student should have gained

o Knowledge of the mechanism of action and clinical signs of individual toxins and classes of harmful substances and the measures to implement in the event of poisoning (the specific management to implement in the case the toxin is recognized and the aspecific treatment to give in order to save the animal's life).

· ABILITY TO APPLY KNOWLEDGE AND COMPREHENSION SKILLS acquisition of theoretical information the student will be able to apply in the clinical setting in the years subsequent to graduation:

o how to approach the animal correctly to guarantee his/her own and the animal's safety;

o how to correctly note any indications referred as well as the animal's previous clinical history;

o how to recognize and note presenting signs and symptoms;

o how to institute specific therapy for a given toxin;

o how to collect biological samples to send for lab tests to identify the toxin.


the student should be able to:

o correlate the clinical signs presented by an animal with the toxin causing them;

o expound and discuss the course topics.

Course contents

Toxicologycal concepts and terminology. Principles of pharmacology and toxicology governing entry andfate of drugs and toxicants in living systems.Toxicology of Veterinary drug residues and environmental contaminants. Reg. CE 470/2009. ADI, NOEL, SF. Risk assessment and MRL evaluation. Calculation in toxicology. General aspects of toxicokinetics and toxicodynamics. Factors influencing the toxicity of substances. Diagnosis, therapy and management of toxicoses. Antidotal therapy. Residues of veterinary drugs in foodstuffs of animal origin. Classes of toxicants: Metals and minerals. Insecticides and molluscacides. Herbicides. Rodenticides. Common household products. Plant-related toxicoses. Mycotoxins. Zootoxins.


Teaching material comprises a list of recommended reading and material made available to students through websites ( http://campus.cib.unibo.it).

The following texts are especially recommended:

Course notes.

Plumlee K.H., Clinical Veterinary Toxicology, Mosby, 2004

Osweiler G.D., Toxicology, Williams&Wilkins, 1996

Nebbia C., Residui di farmaci e contaminanti ambientali nelle produzioni animali / edited by Carlo Nebbia. - Napoli : EdiSES, 2009.

Gupta R.C.Veterinary toxicology : basic and clinical principles, edited by Ramesh C. Gupta, Elsevier Academic press, 2007.

Mengozzi-Soldani. Tossicologia Veterinaria. Ed. Idelson-Gnocchi, 2010.

Teaching methods

The course involves 29 hours of frontal lessons and 4 x 4 hours of practical sessions.

    1. Frontal lessons

During frontal lessons the lecturer will show slides to support her oral presentation. Students may ask the lecturer questions regarding the topic being presented.



    1. Practical sessions

Practical sessions are conducted with the students divided into four groups. Each group will perform the same exercises during the same hour.

Some of the practical sessions will be “Drug Calculation” exercises to enable the student to calculate the correct drug dose for a given animal weight depending on the concentration of active ingredient in the pharmaceutical formula.

Some hours will be given over to the presentation of short videos of poisoned animals to enable the student to become familiar with the clinical signs explained during the frontal lessons. 

Time will also be dedicated to questions and further development of topics dealt with during the frontal lessons.

Finally, some time may also be dedicated to practical applications of external antidotes in order to become familiar with their effects.


Assessment methods

The final examination is designed to assess whether the student has achieved the main learning outcomes of the course, namely the ability to:

o correlate the mechanism of action of a toxic agent with the clinical signs;

o recognize a case of poisoning on the basis of the animal's medical record and symptoms;

o apply suitable treatment depending on the type of poisoning.

Student assessment following the “Veterinary Toxicology” course comprises a two-part examination consisting of 60 multiple-answer questions for each examination. The 60 questions are formulated in such a way that there are one or more correct answers among the options given. This system obliges the student to have in-depth knowledge of the topics presented during the course in order to identify the correct reply. In addition, the student is asked to calculate drug dilutions and doses on the basis of the methods presented during the course. During the examination students are not allowed to use support material like textbooks, notes or computers.

The first part of the examination will deal with half of the subject matter dealt with during the course while the second examination will comprise questions on the remaining topics.

Students who fail to sit or do not pass the two-part examination are allowed to present for the oral examination at the same time as the Veterinary Pharmacology examination.

How to enrol in examinations and the examination calendar

Students are encouraged to sit both parts of the examination, the dates of which will be agreed by lecturer and students. A few days prior to the agreed date students will be asked to enrol by signing their names on an appropriate hardcopy list that will be made available.

Students may sign up for the oral examination only through the Alma Esami online system. For further enrolment instructions, please go to: (https://almaesami.unibo.it/almaesami/welcome.htm).

Examination dates appear in special windows for course students, and are scheduled throughout the year for out-of-course students.

· Depending on the examination date frequency, the examining committee reserves the right to fix a maximum number of candidates for each oral examination. In any event, the maximum number of candidates accepted for each examination day will be eight.

· In the event of more than 8 candidates enrolling for an oral examination date, the examining committee undertakes to ensure the excess number shall be able to sit the examination at the earlier possible time, and will draw up an examination schedule on the day of the first examination.

· Students may not enrol in more than one examination date at a time.

· Students failing to pass the oral examination are entitled to re-sit the test after a minimum period of three weeks.

Teaching tools

Videos of poisoning in animals.

Discussion of the various topics treated using IOL or Kahoot.

Office hours

See the website of Paola Roncada