What is Bluebonnet Poisoning?
The bluebonnet is the Texas state flower and is most commonly seen along roadsides and uncultivated pastures in many states. The flower has a unique look to it; it comes from a branching stem, about one foot in length, and is topped by clusters of blue pea-like flowers. The flower comes to a white tip and has a yellow/white middle in each of the blue flowers. It has silky-haired leaves and grows best in sloped areas with well-drained soil, and it blooms from March to May. This flower blooms along with many other wildflowers making your travels very scenic and is a sure sign that spring is in full effect. However, since it is toxic to pets, if your dog eats or chews on this flower, you should take them to their veterinarian as soon as you can. While you think your may be fine because he is only showing mild symptoms of toxicity, respiratory distress may set in, and only professional medical attention can help your pet. The quicker you get your pet to the veterinarian, the higher the chances of recovery.
The bluebonnet is a common flower native to the Rocky Mountain range and westward. When ingested by dogs, it is toxic. If your dog consumes this flower, you need to contact your veterinarian immediately.
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Symptoms of Bluebonnet Poisoning in Dogs
Depending on how much your dog ingests, the onset of toxicity may develop rapidly or over time. Symptoms include
- Difficulty swallowing
- Respiratory problems
- Respiratory paralysis
- Inability to control their muscles
The toxin in this plant affects the nervous system so if your pet consumes it, they need to be taken to their veterinarian for medical attention.
The bluebonnet is in the genus Lupinus but is known by other common names such as the Texas bluebonnet, big bend bluebonnet, silvery lupine, sandyland bluebonnet, buffalo clover, Nebraska lupine, chios bluebonnet, and bajada lupine depending on what species you are discussing. There is also a maroon version of this flower known as the aggie bonnet or maroon bluebonnet. Any plant in the Lupinus genus is toxic and should be treated as a medical emergency if ingested by your dog.
Causes of Bluebonnet Poisoning in Dogs
The entire plant is toxic when ingested by a dog, but especially the seeds and the pods. Seeds are toxic in both fresh and dry forms. These plants contain many different types of alkaloids that cause nicotine like reactions in the consumer. When consumed in excess, they cause the toxicity symptoms listed above.
Diagnosis of Bluebonnet Poisoning in Dogs
When you take your dog to the veterinarian, the diagnosis will begin with a physical exam. This will allow the veterinarian to get a good idea of how the toxicity is affecting your pet. The team knows what vitals are abnormal and therefore, will know what needs to be corrected. Performing blood work is common in a toxicity case; the veterinarian will likely run a complete blood count (CBC) and a chemistry panel. The doctor may want to run a urinalysis as well for further evaluation of the renal system. Depending on what the laboratory work results come back with, additional tests that are more in depth and very specific could be ordered. Take a part of the plant with you when you go to the clinic so the veterinarian can identify exactly what was ingested; if your pet ate the seeds that were away from the flowers and you can’t identify them, take those with you as well.
Treatment of Bluebonnet Poisoning in Dogs
Treatment will be dependent on how much of the bluebonnet plant your dog consumed and what symptoms he is suffering from. Fluids will likely be started to help flush out the toxin quicker. If your dog is having any type of muscle issues such as trembling or tremors, the veterinarian will give medication to stop these symptoms. If your dog is having respiratory issues, the team may put your dog on oxygen either in the form of flow by or in an oxygen cage. If your dog is really struggling to breath and becomes unconscious, the veterinarian may have to intubate and put him on oxygen. The veterinarian and staff will do everything they can to help your pet recover.
Recovery of Bluebonnet Poisoning in Dogs
The veterinarian will likely want to keep your pet for several hours to days, depending on the severity of the toxicity. Once all the laboratory work comes back normal, your pet will be released from the hospital.
Since this is a naturally occurring flowering plant and can be found in many areas, you have to be aware of your pet’s habits when around shrubs and flowers. If he is the type that likes to start chewing on plants when outside, it is wise to monitor them. Many pet owners may decide to spray the plants or mow the flowers down, but if the seeds have already fallen off the plant and your pet eats them, they will still suffer from the toxin. Keep a watchful eye over your dog when on walks or at the park and if you suspect they have eaten a toxic flower or leaves and stem, take them to the veterinarian immediately.