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What is Begonia Poisoning?

Begonias are a common variety of flowering plant which are often utilized in flowerbeds and larger pots due to their large, colorful flowers. However, gardeners should be aware that despite its alluring appearance, the begonia can be surprisingly toxic if eaten. Cats and other small mammals are especially vulnerable to the effects due to the relatively small amount of begonia that will need to be eaten in order to cause damage and discomfort.

Begonia Poisoning Average Cost

From 232 quotes ranging from $100 - $500

Average Cost

$250

Symptoms of Begonia Poisoning in Cats

Though begonia poisoning is not usually life-threatening, it can produce some fairly obvious symptoms. Owners who observe these signs should take their cat straight to a vet, lest more serious complications arise.

  • Excessive salivation 
  • Oral sores 
  • Redness around the mouth 
  • Swelling of the mouth and tongue
  • Licking the lips and grimacing
  • Vomiting 
  • Dehydration
  • Inability to swallow 
  • Refusal of food and water
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Causes of Begonia Poisoning in Cats

The begonia plant contains large amounts of a substance known as oxalate. Once ingested, the oxalate crystals embed themselves in various tissues causing irritation and can break down into 'oxalic acid', which is also a potent irritant. The cat's body will attempt to avoid further irritation and damage to the digestive tract by vomiting and attempting to dilute the acid with saliva. Eventually, a quantity of the toxin will make its way into the bloodstream, taking it to the liver. This turn of events can be especially dangerous, as in sufficient quantities oxalic acid can induce catastrophic liver failure, leading to serious illness and even death.

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Diagnosis of Begonia Poisoning in Cats

In order to make a complete diagnosis, the vet will usually run a battery of tests to determine the exact nature of the substance the cat has ingested. These tests will usually include analysis of the blood, a physical examination and a close examination of the digestive tract via an endoscopy if necessary. Notifying your vet about the cat’s potential access to the begonia plant can simplify diagnosis to speed up treatment. 

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Treatment of Begonia Poisoning in Cats

Most cases of begonia poisoning are fairly mild, clearing up by themselves in roughly forty eight hours. The vet may however recommend a diet of liquid foods, as these are both easier on the stomach and will help dislodge any oxalate crystals still lodged in the digestive system. Anti-inflammatories will be needed in order to reduce any swelling in the throat and ensure a clear airway. Additional drugs may also be required in order to increase the viscosity of the stomach contents and thereby protect the stomach lining. Depending whether or not dehydration has set in, fluid therapy may also be needed.

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Recovery of Begonia Poisoning in Cats

The total recovery time for a severe case of begonia poisoning is surprisingly short, with most being resolved within the space of two weeks at a maximum and follow up appointments not usually being necessary. The reason for this is that the oxalate crystals quickly lose their potency, meaning that without ingesting more, the levels of oxalic acid in the body will quickly fade. This is good news for cats and their owners, as it means that the amount of time that exercise and normal feeding will be restricted for will be kept to a minimum. However, if there has been notable damage to the esophagus, then the vet may opt to temporarily install a feeding tube (most likely in the form of a nasal catheter). This will prevent the cat from stressing damaged tissues in the digestive tract by swallowing, instead subsisting on a liquid diet until they are sufficiently healed.

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Begonia Poisoning Average Cost

From 232 quotes ranging from $100 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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Begonia Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Mafia

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Tuxedo

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10 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Swelling

My cat was rubbing against a begonia plant and now has a puffy red eye with inside eyelid exposed and covering about a quarter of the eye from the eyepoint. Washed with a washcloth and is getting better now. We have removed the plant. Does she need to go to the vet?

Aug. 5, 2018

Mafia's Owner

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1 Recommendations

Certainly does sound like a contact allergy, make sure that you bathe her thoroughly with a mild cat shampoo to be on the safe side and flush the eye out gently with sterile saline. Monitor for improvement but if the swelling doesn’t go down you should visit your Veterinarian to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 5, 2018

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Scenie

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domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

4 Years

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Mild severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Irritation

The cat ate a pink begonia flower. I called the vet but they were closing and couldn’t do anything until the cat exhibits signs of being sick. I tried to rinse the cats mouth out with water and gave her some provable. What is the treatment for begonia poisoning and how long until I see symptoms.

June 13, 2018

Scenie's Owner

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2 Recommendations

Typically begonia poisoning resulting in immediate symptoms including vomiting and drooling; generally no treatment is needed and any symptoms which may present normally resolve without incident within a day or two. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

June 14, 2018

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Umi

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Cat

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12 Years

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Fair severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting
Hasn'T Eaten
Fast Breathing?

Shortly after we came home, after being gone all day, our cat vomited 3 times. The last 2 were one right after the other, but the first time had been maybe an hour before, and she threw up a small begonia bud. She seems fine otherwise, except she doesn't seem to have eaten all day, and her breathing seems to be much faster than usual. Should we bring her in?

May 21, 2018

Umi's Owner

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1 Recommendations

Cats typically recover well from begonia plant ingestion within a day or two; vomiting is a common symptom along with hypersalivation. If you see no improvement over the next day or two visit your Veterinarian for an examination. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

May 21, 2018

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Chico

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Siamese

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One Year

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Vomit

My cat cat ate a tiny piece of a begonia leaf, about 3:00 pm CST today. It is now 8:45 PM CST. I saw him try to throw up about 2 hours ago. But since then, no other symptoms. He ate a bit of kibble about 8:00 pm. Seems ok. What should I do? Thank you much!

April 16, 2018

Chico's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

The crystals in a Begonia plant can be quite irritating to a cats GI tract. If Chico continues to vomit, or is salivating or doesn't want to eat, he should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible. He may recover on his own, but you will need to monitor him closely over the next few days.

April 16, 2018

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Bassia

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Siamese

dog-age-icon

4 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting; Profusely Salivating.

Unbeknown to us our Tom cat ate some begonia rex leaves. The first we knew is that he vomited twice and then started salivating profusely. We were really worried. Took him to the vet. The vat was puzzled. Examined him, looked into his throat - nothing. Run a whole battery of blood tests. Still puzzled and thinking of some congenital liver condition. Then my daughter had a bright idea to look up whether this could be down to begonia, which we purchased only 3 days ago. The vet now says this makes complete sense. He hasn't prescribed anything yet, but will put him on a drip if he does not get better in the next 24 hours.

Begonia Poisoning Average Cost

From 232 quotes ranging from $100 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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