Pet Health: Poisonous plants

The young leaves and flowers are the most toxic parts of the horse chestnut tree

The young leaves and flowers are the most toxic parts of the horse chestnut tree

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Vet Darren Storey brings you the latest news from Northlands Veterinary Hospital.

Let’s talk about the risks of certain plants to your pets.

In most cases, it is the daffodil bulbs that have been ingested by dogs, but poisoning has been reported following ingestion of the flowers

In most cases, it is the daffodil bulbs that have been ingested by dogs, but poisoning has been reported following ingestion of the flowers

Many plants and flowers look lovely in our gardens and houses but to your pets they can be very toxic and cause some very severe problems.

Here is a small list of some of the common culprits:

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)

Chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium)

Blue-Green Algae

Daffodils (Narcissus pseudonarcissus and Narcissus poeticus)

Leopard Lily, Dumb Cane, and Mother-in-Law’s Tongue

Holly (Aquifolianeae family)

Honeysuckle (Lonicera family)

Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

Mistletoe (Viscum album)

Rhododendron species

Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia)

Yew (Taxus baccata)

As you can imagine, I could write an essay on the list above.

However, let’s just pick two of them and explore further.

Daffodils

In most cases, it is the bulbs that have been ingested by dogs, but poisoning has been reported following ingestion of the flowers.

The toxin

Daffodils (especially the bulbs) contain alkaloids and glycosides, which are responsible for the poisoning.

Symptoms

Onset can be from 15 minutes to 24 hours after ingestion and cause symptoms like vomiting, diarrhoea and a painful abdomen, high temperature, lethargy and going pale, possibly leading to collapse, and hypersalivation.

Treatment

If we see your dog soon enough and usually before the symptoms, we can induce vomiting to clear out their stomach contents which will include the plant/bulbs.

We could also wash out their stomach if needed.

Depending on the severity of the poisoning/symptoms we may need to give your dog supportive nursing, fluids and gut medications.

Horse chestnut

It is the young leaves and flowers that are the most toxic parts of this plant.

Actually, it is the bark that contains the highest concentration of the toxin but it is very rarely eaten.

Also, the conkers are toxic but through a different type of toxin compared to the above.

The toxin

This is quite complicated as there are different toxins involved but the principle one is ‘aesculin’.

Symptoms

Onset can occur within one to six hours, but in most clinical cases it is actually a couple of days before symptoms are noted.

These include vomiting (with or without blood) and diarrhoea, salivation and wanting to drink more, stomach pains, restlessness and becoming wobbly; occasionally leading to collapse.

Treatment

If we see your dog soon enough and usually before the symptoms, we can induce vomiting to clear out their stomach contents which will include the plant/bulbs.

We could also wash out their stomach if needed.

Depending on the severity of the poisoning/symptoms we may need to give your dog supportive nursing, fluids and gut medications.

Surgery is sometimes needed to remove any impacted material in the gut.

As you can see the symptoms from ingesting certain plants can be quite generic.

Please don’t think that because your dog has started vomiting or having diarrhoea that a toxin is involved. However, always consider the possibility.

Ask yourself if ingestion has been possible?

Do you have a horse chestnut tree in your garden? Had you just planted lots of daffodils?

Do you have daffodils in your house, and have some gone missing?

Usually dogs are not interested in eating these plants but it can happen. Dogs can eat some strange things.

Remember, whether you are a client of Northlands or not please call 01536 485543 and ask to speak to a clinical member of staff if you are at all worried.