What is African Wonder Tree Poisoning?
The African wonder tree is most often found in China, Brazil, and India, but are now common household plants just about anywhere. The access to any part these plants or the seeds can be extremely toxic to your dog. The ricin gets into your dog’s blood cells, stopping protein production, which causes the cells to die. Eventually, this causes the organs (kidneys, spleen, heart, lungs, pancreas, and liver) to shut down, which is fatal in a matter of hours. The modes of exposure all have different symptoms and dangers, but inhalation is the worst; causing death in just a few hours. Oral ingestion is just as fatal, although it takes a bit longer to cause death, within two to three days. Topical exposure is not lethal, but can be very painful, and may cause blindness if your dog gets it in his eyes. The toxicity of the ricin is determined by the method of exposure, with inhalation being much more toxic than oral poisoning.
The African wonder tree causes a toxic reaction that can be lethal for your dog due to the ricin in the plant. In fact, it only takes an ounce of seeds from an African wonder tree to be fatal. In 12 hours to two days, your dog will begin showing the symptoms of African wonder tree poisoning, which can range from a loss of appetite to convulsions and coma. This is one of the worst toxic plants there is, with death being reported in just two days in many cases. There are several ways your dog can become poisoned by the African wonder tree, which are topical, oral, and inhalation. Topical poisoning is not fatal, but can cause inflammation and pain. Oral ingestion can cause organ failure and death within 24 hours, and inhalation can cause death in just a few hours.
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Symptoms of African Wonder Tree Poisoning in Dogs
The symptoms of African wonder tree poisoning vary depending on the amount ingested and the method of contact; topical, oral, or inhalation.
- Painful or itchy skin in affected areas
- Skin redness
- Swelling of eyes
- Abdominal pain
- Bloody diarrhea
- Dehydration with sunken eyes
- Depressed nervous system
- Dilated pupils
- Excessive thirst
- Lack of coordination
- Loss of appetite
- Blue tint to skin and mucous membranes
- Chest pain
- Fast heart rate
- Labored breathing
- Respiratory failure
- Shortness of breath
- Trouble breathing
- Topical poisoning is caused by exposure of the skin to the African wonder tree
- Oral poisoning is caused by the ingestion of any part of the African wonder tree or its seeds
- Inhalation poisoning is caused by breathing in the smoke from burning any part of the African wonder tree
Causes of African Wonder Tree Poisoning in Dogs
The cause of ricin poisoning is exposure to the African wonder tree in one of three ways: topical, oral, or inhalation. If you have an African wonder tree in your home or anywhere on your property, it is best to get rid of it to be sure your dog can never get to it. This is a very toxic plant that is extremely dangerous and can be lethal in a few hours to days.
Diagnosis of African Wonder Tree Poisoning in Dogs
Because the symptoms of African wonder tree poisoning are so extreme, the veterinarian will want to stabilize your dog before doing a physical examination or tests. If poisoning is caused by ingestion, the veterinarian will give your dog medicine to cause vomiting, and if your dog does not have diarrhea, they will administer activated charcoal, which sticks to the ricin, making it pass through your dog’s system without causing any more damage. Depending on the symptoms your dog is experiencing, the veterinarian will start your dog on IV fluids, medication for seizures (diazepam), and oxygen by nasal tube.
The veterinarian will then do a complete physical examination, checking blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen level, lung sounds, body temperature, weight, and reflexes. A complete blood count (CBC), urinalysis, fecal examination, serum biochemistries, liver enzymes, blood glucose, and electrolyte panels will be done. The veterinarian will also hook your dog up to an electrocardiogram (ECG) to measure the heart’s electrical activity. Radiographs (x-rays) may be done to check your dog’s organs and be sure there is no immediate danger.
Treatment of African Wonder Tree Poisoning in Dogs
The first 48 to 72 hours are the most important. The veterinarian will continue to monitor your dog in the hospital, giving IV fluids, oxygen, and round-the-clock care. A blood transfusion, gastrointestinal protectants (ranitidine or famotidine), anti-diarrhea medicine, and electrolytes may be given if needed.
Recovery of African Wonder Tree Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog makes it past the 72 hours, the prognosis is good as long as there is no organ failure or damage. The veterinarian will want you to come back in 7 to 10 days for repeat blood tests and ECG, and if these tests are good, your dog will be fine as long as you get rid of your African wonder tree and any other poisonous plants.