What is American Bittersweet Poisoning?
American Bittersweet is native to southern Canada and the eastern United States. It is an attractive plant so many people have them in their gardens. Since these vines produce attractive red fruit that lasts well into the winter, they are frequently used in decorating for the holidays. This is where a lot of toxicity events occur since a lot of people don’t realize how harmful it is to their dogs. If you saw or believe your pet has ingested any part of this plant, contact your pet’s veterinarian as soon as possible.
American Bittersweet is a plant pleasing to the human eye but toxic to your dog if ingested. If you believe your dog ate this type of plant or he is acting abnormally and there could have been exposure, contact your veterinarian immediately.
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Symptoms of American Bittersweet Poisoning in Dogs
Depending on how much of the plant your pet ingested, the symptoms may manifest within a short amount of time. Clinical symptoms that manifest after your pet ingests the plant include
- Cardiac disturbances
- Dilated pupils
- Respiratory depression
The entire plant is harmful to the animal when ingested, but the berries are the most toxic.
American Bittersweet is a climbing vine type plant containing simple serrated leaves and small yellow/green flowers that bloom and open to reveal orange/red seeds. This plant, known as American Bittersweet or Oriental Bittersweet, has other common names as well such as Celastrus scandens, False Bittersweet, Climbing Bittersweet, and waxwork.
Causes of American Bittersweet Poisoning in Dogs
The toxicity of American Bittersweet is not well known, but it is known that many of the varieties contain euonymin. This is the component that causes canines to have the gastrointestinal upset. Many people unknowingly bring this plant into their home never thinking their pet will bother it. However, sometimes curiosity gets the best of even the most well behaved pets and they can get into trouble without you even knowing it.
Diagnosis of American Bittersweet Poisoning in Dogs
When you take your pet to the veterinarian, the team will start with a physical examination of your dog. The symptoms your pet is experiencing will determine the next step. Your veterinarian may want to run some labs to be sure your pet’s levels are normal. Most likely they will run a complete blood count (CBC), a chemistry panel and possibly a urinalysis. This will give the veterinarian a better idea of how your dog is handling the toxin. When possible, if you know or even suspect your pet ate or chewed on a part of the plant, take it with you when you go to the clinic. This will allow the veterinarian to identify the toxin quickly and accurately.
Treatment of American Bittersweet Poisoning in Dogs
The symptoms your dog is showing will determine the course of therapy. There are medications the veterinarian can administer if your dog is vomiting, having seizures, or suffering respiratory issues. Your dog may be put on monitoring equipment, especially if he is having cardiac issues. An ECG may be performed to determine if your pet’s heart beat is irregular, and if so, this will allow the veterinarian to administer proper cardiac supportive medications. They may move your pet to a quiet area to keep him as calm as possible. The Veterinarian will also make sure your pet is staying hydrated if he is vomiting and having diarrhea excessively. If your pet becomes dehydrated, the team will administer fluids to combat this problem. Staff may want to keep your pet overnight for monitoring; while it may be inconvenient, it is the best option for your pet. If he develops more or different symptoms throughout the night, the veterinarians will be able to take action immediately and correct the issue before it progresses.
Recovery of American Bittersweet Poisoning in Dogs
The level of toxicity of American Bittersweet Poisoning ranges from mild to moderate depending on how much of the plant your dog ingested. If you wait too long to seek medical attention for your dog, the chances of a full recovery becomes less. Even if you aren’t sure your pet did eat the plant, going to the veterinarian as soon as possible is the safest call. Before you add a new plant to your garden, do your research to ensure you aren’t bringing a harmful plant into your pet’s area. Use the same process if you use live flowers and plants for decoration in your house, make sure it isn’t something your pet can become poisoned by.