What is Flamingo Flower Poisoning?
Flamingo flowers are popular evergreen house plants that produce long lasting flowers, typically red with yellow stems, and drooping glossy foliage. While these plants are attractive for humans, when eaten by your cat, they can be extremely harmful and will cause a great deal of pain and discomfort for your pet. In severe cases, your cat may face life-threatening conditions as a result of flamingo flower poisoning. You should avoid having flamingo flower in your home if you have cats that are prone to chewing on household flowers. If you suspect your cat is suffering from poisoning resulting from ingesting flamingo flower you should seek veterinary assistance immediately.
Symptoms of Flamingo Flower Poisoning in Cats
Flamingo flower causes a variety of severe symptoms in your cat. While even a small amount can cause irritation and discomfort, due to its nearly instant effect, most cats will not ingest the toxic chemicals of the plant in large quantities. Symptoms of flamingo flower poisoning in your cat include:
- Severe mouth ulcerations
- Severe throat ulcerations
- Intense burning and pain in mouth
- Excessive drooling
- Shaking of head or other signs of mouth pain or irritation
- Swelling of throat
- Restricted airway
- Lack of consciousness from blocked airway
- Renal Failure
- Coma and death
Causes of Flamingo Flower Poisoning in Cats
Flamingo flower poisoning occurs when your cat chews or ingests any portion of the flamingo flower plant. Flamingo flower contains a compound that is toxic to your cat, known as insoluble calcium oxalates. The reaction to these compounds is immediate and so severe that, fortunately, most cats are deterred from eating much of the plant and not exposed to large quantities of the poison.
Irritation from exposure to the compounds will cause ulcers in your cat’s mouth, throat, and stomach. These can cause your cat’s airways to swell as an inflammatory reaction to the injury. If your cat does ingest large quantities of the compound despite the painful affects and taste, the chemicals cause organ damage and, eventually, failure.
Diagnosis of Flamingo Flower Poisoning in Cats
As with many medical emergencies, diagnosis will begin with a thorough and expedited physical examination in your veterinarian’s office. During this visit your vet will look for telltale signs of poisoning which will include oral irritation, difficulties breathing and general irritation in your pet. Your vet will use a special scope to listen for breath sounds and to assess your cat’s respiratory function.
During this visit, you should provide as much background as possible on your cat’s physical and medical history. If your cat is suffering from any other serious medical conditions, these may complicate the diagnosis and eventual treatment. If you witnessed your cat chewing or ingesting flamingo flower you should bring a sample of the plant in a bag along with you to the vet’s office. The ability to identify which dangerous substances your cat was exposed to will help your vet make quick treatment decisions.
Treatment of Flamingo Flower Poisoning in Cats
Time is of the essence with treatment of flamingo flower poisoning in your cat. First your veterinarian will need to stabilize your cat’s immediate life-threatening symptoms. This will require administering anti-seizure drugs via a needle injection or an IV. Vets will often choose to run an IV since this will allow easy access to administering additional medications that may be needed throughout the treatment.
Your cat’s breathing will also need to be stabilized. This will be done by administering antihistamines and other drugs that reduce inflammation and promote an opening of the airways. These will also be administered via an IV or injection. This will allow the medications to take effect more quickly and will also allow your cat to retain and absorb a greater amount of the medication in their system.
Given the irritating nature of the compounds of flamingo flower, your vet will want to lavage or rinse out your cat’s mouth and throat. This is done by using small amounts of water to flush out your cat’s oral cavity. If your cat has ingested flamingo flower, your vet may also induce vomiting by administering a solution containing a small amount of hydrogen peroxide. This should only be given by a veterinarian or at their instruction since peroxide in the wrong dosage can be very harmful to your cat.
Finally, your cat will be administered a substance called activated charcoal. Activated charcoal absorbs most chemical compounds and is not digested. This allows any remaining chemicals in the stomach to pass through the digestive system, neutralized and harmless.
Recovery of Flamingo Flower Poisoning in Cats
Your cat’s prognosis for recovery from flamingo flower poisoning will depend on the quantity of the plant ingested and on how quickly you seek veterinary treatment. In cases of minor exposure, your cat should make a full recovery. In some cases where the exposure was prolonged or in larger quantities your cat may need supportive medications to help support kidney and liver function.