What is Chandelier Plant Poisoning?
Chandelier plant poisoning in cats is caused by the consumption of any portion of the plant including the pollen, roots, stem, leaves, and petals. The toxic components of the chandelier plant are naturally-occurring poisons: bufadienolides and cardenolides. These two types of poisons are called cardiac glycoside toxins, which interfere with the heart’s electrolyte balance of the contracting muscle. Clinical signs of chandelier plant poisoning in cats include central nervous system changes, gastrointestinal symptoms, electrolyte irregularities, and cardiovascular abnormalities.
Symptoms of Chandelier Plant Poisoning in Cats
The severity of symptoms a cat will display after the ingestion of a chandelier plant depends on the level of poison he or she is experiencing. The toxicity level will vary with the amount of plant material consumed, which part of the plant was consumed, and the particular plant (some plants of the same species have a higher toxicity level than others). Clinical signs of chandelier plant poisoning in cats include central nervous system changes and gastrointestinal signs paired with electrolyte irregularities like high potassium levels. The main symptoms associated with chandelier plant poisoning in cats are cardiovascular irregularities including abnormal heart rate and heart rhythm.
Symptoms of chandelier plant poisoning in that cat owners should watch for include the following:
- Abnormal heart rate
- Cardiac arrhythmias
- Dilated pupils
Causes of Chandelier Plant Poisoning in Cats
Chandelier plant poisoning in cats is caused by the consumption of any portion of the plant including; the pollen, roots, stem, leaves and petals. Some cases of chandelier plant toxicosis have even been reported to have occurred from a feline drinking the vase water in which the plant was placed in the home.
The toxic components of the chandelier plant are naturally-occurring poisons, bufadienolides and cardenolides. These two types of poisons are called cardiac glycoside toxins, which interfere with the heart’s electrolyte balance of the contracting muscle. In veterinary medicine, drugs like digoxin and digitalis affect the heart in a very similar way to the bufadienolides and cardenolides found in this plant.
Diagnosis of Chandelier Plant Poisoning in Cats
Diagnosing a Chandelier Plant Poisoning in Cats is tricky, as there is no true way to identify this type of plant toxicity. The symptoms that the toxins cause mimic other serious heart conditions. Actually seeing your cat consume the chandelier plant is the only way to pinpoint the cause of the condition, so make sure to inform your veterinarian if the feline has consumed part of this plant or inform the doctor if the cat has access to the chandelier plant.
The diagnostic process will begin with a physical examination and a review of the feline’s medical history, in which cardiovascular changes are to be noted. As cardiovascular irregularities could be linked to a variety of underlying causes, your veterinarian will want to conduct a differential diagnosis to eliminate other possibilities. Diagnostic tests the veterinarian will likely request to be performed on the feline include:
- CBC (complete blood cell count)
- Biochemical profile (blood work)
- Blood smear test
- Chest radiograph
- Urinalysis (examination of urine)
- Fecal floatation test
- Fecal examination
Treatment of Chandelier Plant Poisoning in Cats
Chandelier plant poisoning in cats has an antidote that is rather expensive and is only used in severe, life-threatening cases of plant toxicity known as digoxin-specific Fab fragments. If your cat is not in a life-threatening state of toxicity, the veterinarian will want to encourage the feline’s body to eliminate the toxin. An emetic drug will be administered to encourage the feline to vomit.
If your cat has not vomited, activated charcoal will likely be administered by the veterinarian. Activated charcoal will bind with the toxic agent and prevent the body from further absorption of the plant chemicals. The feline’s treatment may end with intravenous fluids to flush the toxin from the blood and restore his or her hydration. Vomiting and diarrhea will cause the cat’s fluid levels to drop significantly, therefore, intravenous fluids are almost always given.
Recovery of Chandelier Plant Poisoning in Cats
The recovery time and prognosis of chandelier plant poisoning depends on the amount of plant material consumed, which part of the plant was consumed, and the characteristics of the particular plant. The key to a positive prognosis is early detection and immediate veterinary medical care.