Ranger's Button Poisoning in Cats

Ranger’s Button Poisoning in Cats - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

What is Ranger's Button Poisoning?

Although ranger’s button poisoning is rarely fatal, it can still lead to serious health complications that cause your cat discomfort. Take your cat to a veterinarian as soon as possible after you spot the symptoms of ranger’s button poisoning so you can get him the help he needs.

The ranger’s button plant, which is also known as swamp white heads, button parsley, and woollyhead parsnip, is usually found in wet environments around streams or rivers. It has bright white stems and round flowers, and is considered one of the most beautiful wildflowers. Although it is closely related to the carrot plant, it should not be eaten because of how toxic it can be to humans and animals.

The ranger’s button plant contains furanocoumarins, which are toxins that are believed to protect plants from natural diseases in the wild. However, these toxins can lead to photosensitization, eye damage, skin irritation, and depression when consumed by cats. 

Symptoms of Ranger's Button Poisoning in Cats

It is unclear how much of the ranger’s button plant needs to be ingested to cause poisoning, so it is best to play it safe and keep your cat away from the plant altogether. Some of the symptoms your cat may exhibit in the hours following contact include:

  • Skin irritation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Photosensitization (increased reaction to UV light)
  • Eye damage

Causes of Ranger's Button Poisoning in Cats

Ranger’s button poisoning is caused by exposure to the ranger’s button plant, which contains toxins known as furanocoumarins. These toxins are used to help plants survive natural diseases in the wild, however, they are toxic to animals when ingested. All parts of the ranger’s button plant should be considered highly toxic to animals.

Diagnosis of Ranger's Button Poisoning in Cats

Take your cat to a veterinarian as soon as possible if you spot him eating a ranger’s button plant or if you simply notice the symptoms of poisoning. To help the vet make a quick diagnosis, it would be helpful to bring in a picture or sample of the plant. 

The vet will begin by conducting a thorough physical examination, which will include a complete blood count, urinalysis, and blood chemistry profile test. The results of these tests can help the vet see a clearer picture of the cat’s overall health. He may also need to examine any spots of skin irritation and may scrape a sample of skin cells to test for bacteria and parasites.

If your cat is suffering from eye damage, a fluorescein staining may be performed to check for eye ulcerations. The results of the physical examination and the fluorescein staining combined with the description of the symptoms should be enough to help your vet identify your cat’s condition.

Treatment of Ranger's Button Poisoning in Cats

Treatment will begin immediately following the diagnosis of ranger’s button poisoning. The first priority is removing any toxins that could still be in your cat’s system by inducing vomiting, which is typically done by orally administering a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. Afterwards, the vet can also administer activated charcoal to absorb any toxins that may remain in the cat’s system. A gastric lavage, which is the medical term for a stomach wash, can also be performed to wash out any toxins that remain in your cat’s stomach.

It’s possible your cat will become dehydrated during the induced vomiting. If this happens, he may need to receive fluids through an IV until his condition has stabilized.

Next, the vet will need to treat any sores on your cat’s skin. The areas that are irritated will need to be thoroughly washed. The vet may apply a topical ointment to relieve any discomfort the cat is experiencing from the wounds. If the cat is in extreme discomfort, oral medication can also be administered to help reduce inflammation and irritation.

Depending on the condition of your cat’s eyes, the vet may need to administer eye drops to promote healing.

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Recovery of Ranger's Button Poisoning in Cats

Ranger’s button poisoning is rarely severe, but it can cause a great deal of discomfort, which is why taking your cat to a veterinarian as soon as possible is so important. If your cat is dehydrated, he may need to stay at the vet’s following treatment until he has regained his strength. 

The vet may send your cat home with a protective cone to prevent him from itching or rubbing his irritated skin and eyes. This will need to be worn until the cat has fully recovered. 

The most important part of recovery is limiting your cat’s exposure to ranger’s button. It’s important to completely remove this plant from your home and garden to prevent further exposure. If you believe your cat came into contact with it in another person’s yard, it’s best to keep your cat indoors as much as possible.

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