What is Geranium Leaf Aralia Poisoning?
Although we may associate coffee with a warm, tasty, beverage, the geranium leaf aralia can be toxic when ingested by animals, including dogs and cats. The tree contains saponins, which are a type of toxin that can lead to skin irritation within the mouth and gastrointestinal tract once consumed. Cats can suffer from geranium leaf aralia poisoning if they are exposed to the tree topically, for example if they rub up against it, or orally, if they chew on a piece of the tree. Once contact has been made, the cat will begin to exhibit symptoms such as dermatitis, vomiting, increased heart rate, and fatigue.
Geranium leaf aralia poisoning does not usually cause any life-threatening complications, but you should still take your cat to a veterinarian for treatment right away.
The geranium leaf aralia is also known as the wild coffee, coffee tree, or aralia. This tree is native to parts of North and Central America, but even in areas where it does not naturally grow, it is used as a decorative part of residential gardens because of its beautiful, thick foliage.
Symptoms of Geranium Leaf Aralia Poisoning in Cats
The symptoms your cat exhibits will depend on the amount of the geranium leaf aralia that was consumed, or the amount of time he was topically exposed to it. Some cats will not have any symptoms if the exposure was brief, but others will begin to exhibit some or all of these symptoms:
- Skin rashes
- Loss of appetite
- Elevated heart rate
- General weakness
Causes of Geranium Leaf Aralia Poisoning in Cats
Cats will suffer from geranium leaf aralia poisoning after they have been exposed, either topically or orally, to the geranium leaf aralia tree. Every part of the geranium leaf aralia tree contains saponins, which makes it dangerous for cats. This toxin will immediately begin to irritate the cat’s skin, oral cavity, or gastrointestinal tract following exposure.
Diagnosis of Geranium Leaf Aralia Poisoning in Cats
Cat owners who see their cat chewing on a piece of a geranium leaf aralia tree should bring their pets into a veterinarian as soon as possible. If possible, try to snap a photo of the tree to make it easier for the vet to diagnose. If you did not observe the behavior, but have started to witness vomiting, try to bring in a sample of the vomit so the vet can identify any plant pieces in it. Describe all of the symptoms you have witnessed, and when they first began.
Unfortunately, there is not a test that can help vets diagnose geranium leaf aralia poisoning, so a diagnosis is often made based solely on information provided by the cat owner. If the cat owner does not provide much information, the vet may choose to analyze the contents of the cat’s stomach to look for signs as to what could be causing the symptoms.
Treatment of Geranium Leaf Aralia Poisoning in Cats
Treatment will begin immediately following a diagnosis of geranium leaf aralia poisoning. First, the vet will induce vomiting to remove any toxins that are in your cat’s stomach. Vomiting can be induced using a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution that is administered orally to your cat. After this treatment, the vet can also give your cat activated charcoal, which will absorb any of the toxins left behind in the stomach cavity. Finally, the vet has the option of performing a stomach wash, known as a gastric lavage, to cleanse the stomach lining and ensure all toxins are gone.
If your cat’s exposure was only topical—meaning there were no signs of ingestion—the vet can treat the skin rash with a corticosteroid ointment. This will immediately reduce swelling and discomfort associated with the rash.
If your cat has been vomiting or has had diarrhea, the vet may provide him fluids that will help prevent dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
Recovery of Geranium Leaf Aralia Poisoning in Cats
Most cats will make a full recovery from geranium leaf aralia poisoning without suffering any complications. The recovery is much quicker if you immediately seek help following exposure to the tree.
Depending on your cat’s condition, the vet may need to keep your pet to continue to monitor his vitals and ensure he has been stabilized. Once he has been released to you, make sure you talk to the vet about what kind of foods you should be feeding him over the next few days. The vet may recommend soft foods that will not upset your cat’s stomach, and plenty of water so you can continue to flush out his system.
It is up to you to prevent additional exposure to the geranium leaf aralia tree. Owners may want to consider keeping their cat indoors so they do not make contact with the tree again.