Many plants are the cause of poisoning in our dogs; these intoxications are frequent and even if the clinical manifestations are varied, the prognosis is regularly favorable. The management of these poisonings will depend on the plant involved and the clinical signs. The prognosis depends on the plant concerned and the dose assimilated by the body of our companions.
Types of plants poisonous to dogs
We find, in the first place, indoor plants, commonly called houseplants. Without wanting to draw up an exhaustive list, we will quote the ficus, the dieffenbachia, the cacti, the daffodils, the philodendrons, the apple tree of love, the rhododendron, the azaleas. All of these plants are ornamental plants and are used in interior decoration.
Regarding outdoor plants (or garden plants), the most frequently affected species are laurels (rose and cherry), lily of the valley, castor, arum and yew (berry). It should be noted that these plants which regularly decorate our gardens are also among the most toxic.
We will keep in mind the possible poisonings of food plants (avocados, onions, potatoes) even if their cooking generally destroys the molecules responsible for the poisoning.
We did not choose to develop mushroom poisoning; let’s just keep in mind that they exist and that the manifestations will often be digestive, possibly nervous.
Remember that so-called “recreational” plants like cannabis are also responsible for many poisonings.
Clinical signs and symptoms following ingestion
After skin contact or, more frequently, ingestion (puppies are the most affected by their oral mode of operation), the time to the appearance of the first clinical signs ranges from a few minutes to a few hours; the evolution can be done over several days. The most frequently encountered clinical signs are the following:
- skin : edema, swelling, redness, hair loss, skin necrosis
- digestive : significant salivation, vomiting, profuse diarrhea, abdominal pain
- nervous : depression, prostration, drowsiness, paralysis or even convulsions (this last symptom is fortunately rare)
- renal : the kidneys play a role in the elimination of many toxicants, renal failure can develop. This renal damage can be objectified either by an excessive production of urine (we call this polyuria), or on the contrary a decrease or an absence of urine emission (it is then a question of oligo-anuria).
- cardiovascular : most often heart rhythm or heart rate disturbances (with tachycardia or bradycardia). These disorders greatly tire the animal and considerably worsen the prognosis.
Certain plants will be at the origin of different symptoms which will follow one another over time. If the most frequently encountered poisonings are limited to digestive disorders, the most dangerous (even fatal in some cases) can generate serious nervous and cardiovascular toxicity. This type of toxicity is associated with the most toxic plants such as yew, bay leaves or lily of the valley.
Diagnosis following the ingestion of poisonous plants
In the event of a suspicion of poisoning by plants, the action to be taken will be different if it is a question of skin exposure to the plant (for example cactus prickles or ficus sap) or of ingestion of the plant.
During skin contact, we recommend washing the affected area with clean lukewarm water (around 15 ° C) for 15 minutes, towel drying well and preventing the animal from licking this area. We do not recommend the use of a shampoo which could, in certain cases, increase the irritation of the skin caused by the plant.
When ingested, we recommend that you try to determine the affected plant (especially for outdoor plants) and contact your veterinarian. The latter will be able to suggest that you consult your animal and will judge the need for a treatment. The treatment will be symptomatic (management of the clinical signs present; for example during vomiting, administration of an anti-vomiting agent and a gastric bandage); it may be associated with an eliminatory treatment which will consist in infusing the animal in order to quickly eliminate the toxicant from your companion’s body and to limit any possible sequelae following the passage of undesirable molecules into your animal’s blood.
Note that there is no specific antidote for poisonous plants. The severity of plant poisoning depends both on the nature of the plant and its potential toxicity, the dose ingested and the time taken between the onset of symptoms and presentation to your veterinarian.
Plant poisoning is commonplace, it should not be underestimated, even if dramatic changes are rare. Do not hesitate to collect information about plants that you own or that you would like to have or plant at home.