What is Gardenia Poisoning?
Gardenia poisoning is rarely fatal; in most cases, it can be easily treated by a veterinarian. But, that doesn’t mean it is not a serious condition. If you spot any of the symptoms of gardenia poisoning, or if you see your cat chewing on a gardenia plant, contact a veterinarian as soon as possible to discuss treatment options.
The gardenia plant, which is also known as cape jasmine, has dark green, shiny leaves with bright white, beautiful flowers. This flower is known primarily for its strong, hypnotic smell, and is commonly found in residential gardens and floral arrangements. Although the flower is beautiful, it can be toxic to animals if it is ingested.
The stems, leaves, and flower of the gardenia plant contain geniposides and gardenosides, two toxins that can cause mild to severe gastrointestinal upset in cats. If your cat chews on or consumes the gardenia plant, he may begin to vomit, have diarrhea, or break out into hives.
Symptoms of Gardenia Poisoning in Cats
The gardenia flower contains toxins that cause gastrointestinal upset in many animals, including dogs, horses, and cats. The severity of the symptoms will depend on how much of the plant was consumed. If a cat has been exposed to the gardenia plant, he may begin to exhibit some or all of these symptoms:
- Skin hives
Causes of Gardenia Poisoning in Cats
Gardenia poisoning is caused by exposure to any part of the gardenia plant, including the stems, leaves, and flowers. The gardenia is dangerous because it contains geniposides and gardenosides, although the level of these toxins will vary depending on the climate, soil, and time of year. These toxins release a bitter taste so animals should stop chewing on the plant soon after they begin, but if they don’t, the more they consume, the more dangerous it can be.
Diagnosis of Gardenia Poisoning in Cats
If you spot your cat chewing on a gardenia plant, take him to a veterinarian right away, along with a sample of the plant so the vet can easily diagnose your cat’s condition. If your cat begins to vomit and you did not observe him chewing on the plant, try to bring in a sample of the vomit so the vet can identify any plant pieces. Describe all of the symptoms you have observed, and let your vet know when you first began to notice them.
There is no test to diagnose gardenia poisoning, so the diagnosis is usually based off of the description of the symptoms. However, in cases which the cat owner does not have any idea why his cat is sick, the vet may examine the contents of the cat’s stomach to see what was ingested. There are dozens of plants that can be toxic to cats, so the vet may also ask you questions about how much time your cat spends outdoors and what types of plants you have in your yard.
Treatment of Gardenia Poisoning in Cats
Once your cat has been diagnosed with gardenia poisoning, treatment will begin right away. In some cases, if the symptoms are not severe, the vet may focus solely on treating your cat’s discomfort and let the toxins leave his system naturally. Kapectolin or sucralfate may be administered to coat the lining of the stomach and prevent further vomiting and diarrhea.
In more severe cases, the vet will induce vomiting to remove the rest of the toxins from your cat’s body. A 3% hydrogen peroxide solution will be administered orally and immediately cause vomiting. This will ensure all of the plant material is removed from your cat’s stomach. The vet could also administer activated charcoal, which will absorb the toxins in your cat’s body that have not yet found their way into your cat’s bloodstream.
If your cat has been vomiting excessively, the vet may decide to use an IV to provide fluids that will prevent dehydration and ensure his electrolytes remain balanced.
Recovery of Gardenia Poisoning in Cats
It is rare for gardenia poisoning to lead to serious complications or death, so your cat should make a full recovery. In severe cases, the vet may ask to keep your cat after treatment to ensure his vitals remain strong and his condition is stable. But, in most cases your cat will be sent home with you immediately following treatment.
Be sure to talk to your vet about what kind of diet you should feed your cat in the days following treatment. Vets may recommend a softer diet with plenty of fluids while your cat fully recovers.
You should also remove all gardenia plants from your home and yard. If you believe gardenias are in your neighbors’ yards, you should consider keeping your cat indoors to prevent further exposure to the plant.