What is Scented Geranium Poisoning?
Scented geranium poisoning in cats is caused by direct ingestion of any portion of the scented geranium, including the stem, leaves, flowers, and roots. The scented geranium’s toxic principles are essential oils that can cause great gastrointestinal upset to the feline. Common symptoms for felines to develop after ingesting the scented plant include; anorexia, depression, diarrhea and vomiting. A large quantity ingestion of this plant has also been reported to cause hypothermia, muscle weakness and ataxia.
The scented geranium is a member if the Geranilea family and is known throughout the world by its scientific name, Pelargonium sp. The scented geranium has also been commonly called “geranium” and can be identified by its tall stems that end with a cluster of brightly colored flowers, paired with small green leaves. As the name implies, the scented geranium plant has many scents including; rose, peppermint, lime, lemon, coconut, apricot, apple, and many others. People commonly used the scented geranium to flavor their tea, jam, and sugar for consumption. Scented geranium is also a common ingredient in dried potpourris and aromatherapy.
Symptoms of Scented Geranium Poisoning in Cats
The symptom primarily associated with scented geranium poisoning in cats is generally gastrointestinal upset, but the severity of symptoms depends greatly on the amount of vegetation consumed. Most felines will vomit or develop diarrhea as their bodies respond to the toxic oil component of this plant. However, if the feline ingested a large amount of the scented geranium, then the feline could proceed to develop hypothermia, muscle weakness, and ataxia.
Causes of Scented Geranium Poisoning in Cats
Scented geranium poisoning in cats is caused by the ingestion of any portion of the scented plant. The leaves, stem, roots, and especially the flower of the scented geranium contain essential oils, linaool and geranoil, which are toxic to felines, as well as other domestic animals like horses and dogs. The plant's essential oils are not well tolerated by the stomach and nausea usually sets in before the feline can eat a large quantity of vegetation. Unfortunately, due to the small size of most felines, even a small amount of scented geranium is considered dangerous.
Diagnosis of Scented Geranium Poisoning in Cats
Diagnosing a scented geranium poisoning in cats may be based on ruling out other possible causes of your feline’s condition that could cause similar symptoms. The diagnostic process will begin with a physical examination, a review of the feline’s medical history and a consultation with the pet owner. Inform the veterinarian about your feline’s recent actions and exposure to scented geranium, as this information will aid in ruling out other possible causes.
The veterinarian may conduct a series of diagnostic tests to ensure your cat is truly suffering from a scented geranium toxicity and not an underlying health condition. Diagnostic tests the veterinarian will request may include:
- CBC (complete blood cell count)
- Biochemical profile (blood work)
- Blood smear test
- Urinalysis (examination of urine)
- Fecal floatation test
- Fecal examination
Treatment of Scented Geranium Poisoning in Cats
Scented geranium poisoning in cats is treated by removing the plant from the feline to prevent further ingestion and eliminating the toxins from the cat’s body. To eliminate the undigested toxin from the cat’s stomach, an emetic drug will be administered to encourage the feline to vomit. Activated charcoal may also be administered by the veterinarian. Activated charcoal will bind with toxic agents in the digestive tract to prevent absorption. The feline’s treatment may include intravenous fluids to restore his or her hydration.
Recovery of Scented Geranium Poisoning in Cats
The prognosis for a scented geranium poisoning in cats is guarded to good and depends greatly on the amount of plant material consumed. In most cases, if the feline is not allowed to consume any more of the plant material, the feline will recover in roughly 24 hours. As with all plant toxicity cases, the earlier the feline is admitted to the veterinary hospital, the greater chance she or he has of making a full recovery. The best way to prevent scented geranium poisoning in cats is to remove the plant from your cat’s environment.
Scented Geranium Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
my cat just ate a dead geranium plant a few minutes ago. it was only one dead flower bud. is it okay if the plant is dead or will we still have to worry? he hasn’t acted different yet, but what if he does? what should i do?
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