What is Arrowhead Vine Poisoning?
Cats will usually recover from arrowhead vine poisoning, but you will need to seek medical attention to help alleviate some of the discomfort caused by toxin exposure. Medical treatment can also help stabilize your cat’s condition and prevent complications associated with dehydration.
Arrowhead vine, which is also known as African evergreen, trileaf wonder, and goosefoot plant, may look beautiful in your backyard, but it can be poisonous when consumed by cats. If your cat begins to chew on arrowhead vine, he will be exposed to oxalate crystals, which will immediately begin to irritate your cat’s mouth. If your cat swallows some of the plant’s contents, he may begin to exhibit other symptoms including difficulty breathing, vomiting, and excessive drooling.
Symptoms of Arrowhead Vine Poisoning in Cats
Shortly after being exposed to arrowhead vine, your cat may begin to exhibit symptoms of arrowhead vine poisoning. Symptoms will vary in severity depending on how much if the plant your cat consumed and how much time has passed, but some of the symptoms you may observe include:
- Excessive drooling
- Oral irritation
- Increased respiratory rate
- Pawing at the mouth
- Difficulty breathing
Causes of Arrowhead Vine Poisoning in Cats
This type of poisoning is caused by the exposure to the arrowhead vine. The arrowhead vine contains insoluble oxalate crystals. When a cat begins to bite into the vine, these crystals are released into the cat’s mouth and immediately begin to irritate the tissue. If the crystals are swallowed, the cat will begin to experience more serious symptoms.
Diagnosis of Arrowhead Vine Poisoning in Cats
If you start to see symptoms of arrowhead vine poisoning, take your cat to a veterinarian as soon as possible. If your cat has already started to vomit, try to bring a sample of this with you to the vet. The vet may be able to spot arrowhead vine in the vomit, which will make the process of diagnosing your cat much easier. Once at the vet, describe the symptoms you have observed, and try to remember when you first began to notice them. If your cat spends a great deal of time outdoors, tell your vet, and also let him know of any plants, trees, or vines you have growing in your yard.
There is no test that will help the vet identify arrowhead vine poisoning, however, he may be able to examine the contents of your cat’s stomach to look for clues as to what has caused the symptoms. The irritation found in the mouth may also help the vet make a diagnosis.
Treatment of Arrowhead Vine Poisoning in Cats
Treatment will begin immediately following the diagnosis of arrowhead vine poisoning. First, the vet will begin by thoroughly rinsing your cat’s mouth and oral cavity with cool water. This will relieve the irritation caused by the release of oxalate crystals.
The vet will also administer an antihistamine, which may seem strange as these are usually used to treat allergic reactions. However, in this case an antihistamine will help reduce oral swelling and prevent your cat’s airway from swelling and cutting off his oxygen supply. If your cat’s airway has already started to swell, he will need to be closely monitored by a vet, who can make sure the swelling does not get worse.
If your cat has been vomiting, the vet may use an IV to provide fluids and prevent dehydration. Your cat’s condition will be closely monitored to ensure his electrolyte levels are balanced and vital signs are strong. The vet may also give your cat medication to reduce vomiting. Kapectolin lines the stomach to prevent vomiting, while Sucralfate creates a paste substance that protects the stomach lining.
Recovery of Arrowhead Vine Poisoning in Cats
Cats will usually be able to fully recover from arrowhead vine poisoning. Depending on the severity of the poisoning, the vet may keep your cat overnight to monitor his vitals and ensure he is in stable condition before allowing him to return home.
The vet may ask you to change your cat’s diet while he recovers. Soft, cold foods such as yogurt and cheese can help alleviate the pain in your cat’s mouth. You should also make sure your cat is drinking plenty of fluids to help him stay hydrated.
Cats are more likely to be exposed to arrowhead vine again if they are allowed to roam around outdoors on their own. If you want to prevent this exposure, it’s recommended you keep your cat indoors. Of course, you could remove the arrowhead vine from your yard, but there’s no way to guarantee other people in the neighborhood don’t have it in their yards.