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Andromeda Japonica is an evergreen plant that has beautiful blooming flowers making them very attractive to the human eye. What many people do not realize is how toxic the plant is to their pet if they ingest it. Even if you think your pet just took a nibble on it, your pet could suffer serious toxicity. If you see your pet eating it, remove it from their mouth immediately and take your pet to the veterinarian. If you aren’t sure this is the plant they ate because you have multiple in the vicinity, take a sample from every plant so they veterinarian can at least have a general idea of what they might be dealing with.
Andromeda Japonica, also known as Pieris, is a common plant many people have in their garden without knowing it is actually extremely toxic to their pet’s. If you have this plant in the gardens around your home and believe your pet has ingested some it, consider this a medical emergency and contact your veterinarian immediately.
Every part of the Andromeda Japonica plant is poisonous to dogs. If your pet eats even just a few leaves, serious side effects can occur. Symptoms of toxicity include:
There are different variations of the Andromeda Japonica plant. The technical scientific name is Pieris japonica but it has many common names such as Pieris, Lily-of-the-Valley bush, and Bog Rosemary are the most common interchangeable names. This plant is considered an evergreen but its flower colors can vary.
The toxic component of the plant is called grayanotoxins. Every part of the plant, leaves, flowers, secondary products, all contain the toxin. Ingestion of this causes the body’s sodium channels to be disrupted; this leads to cardiac and skeletal muscle to malfunction. There is a related condition called ‘Mad Honey Disease’ that is due to this toxin-bearing plant. Bees collect nectar from these plants to make their honey, leading to a creation of honey with this toxin in it.
You veterinarian will start with a physical exam on your pet to gather baseline information and see what vitals are abnormal. Blood work will also likely be run to see how the toxin is affecting your dog’s internal organs. A complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry panel will give the veterinarian a good general idea of what is happening internally as well as a urinalysis. Your dog will most likely be set up to monitoring equipment to allow the team to keep a close eye on your pet’s vitals, especially the heart. It is likely the veterinarian will run an ECG to see how the heart is pumping and if any arrhythmias have developed. The veterinarian will also keep a close eye on your canine’s blood pressure. If you know or just suspect your pet was eating this plant, take a part of it with you to the office so the veterinarian knows what they are dealing with.
The treatment your pet will receive will depend on how much of the plant your dog ingested and what symptoms have developed. Keeping the heart safe and working properly is one of the biggest concerns. It is possible your pet will receive fluids if they are dehydrated, but not too many so the heart doesn’t have to work extra hard. If your dog is vomiting, he will most likely receive an antiemetic, or if his blood pressure is getting too low, the veterinarian will give a medication for this as well. Since very little of this plant causes such a dramatic toxicity in pets, there is nothing you can do at home to help your pet; you need to get them to the clinic immediately.
Recovery from Andromeda Japonica Poisoning will depend on many factors such as how much your dog ate, how soon after they ingested it did they receive help, and whether the veterinarian was able to identify the toxin quick enough. Recovery is guarded with the ingestion of this plant. Before you plant any type of shrubbery or flowers on your property, do your homework first. Yes, the plant might be gorgeous, but if there is a possibility it can kill your dog, it isn’t worth having. Even if your dog doesn’t normally nibble on the bushes, you never know if they might start with this one.
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