What is Borage Poisoning ?
Borage is a wild perennial plant with beautiful blue star-shaped flowers, which is why it is also called a starflower. These plants grow wild in the Mediterranean and are cultivated to use in Europe and the United States as herbal supplements or medication. Borage is used in making herbal medication for gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and respiratory conditions. In Germany, many people also use borage for a vegetable or an herb to add to salads, sauces, and soups. The leaves taste similar to a cucumber and the flower tastes sweet and is used in desserts and drinks. Unfortunately, these plants are not good for your dog or other small animals, causing intestinal upset, respiratory distress, and can be fatal if not treated right away. If you think your dog has eaten borage, it is essential to take your furry friend to the veterinarian or animal hospital right away.
Borage poisoning is caused by the ingestion of any type of borage plants, which contain the polyphenol tannin in the leaves, buds, roots, and stems. Tannins bind to proteins and can cause intestinal symptoms and kidney damage. In the leaves, there are the alkaloids supinine, amabiline, lycopsamine, and intermedine, which can harm the liver. Even if your dog has no symptoms, there may be internal damage to the liver or kidneys without your knowledge so it is essential to take your dog to the veterinarian or animal hospital right away upon ingestion.
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Symptoms of Borage Poisoning in Dogs
The symptoms of borage poisoning depend on the amount of borage your dog consumed or was exposed to, and what size your dog is. In larger dogs, a mild irritation of the stomach is usually seen, but toy breeds like the Schnauzer, Poodle, Yorkshire Terrier, and Maltese can have much more serious symptoms.
- Bloody diarrhea
- Breathing trouble
- Difficulty walking
- Excessive drooling
- Lethargy and weakness
- Muscle weakness and tremors
- Pawing at the mouth or face
- Redness or burns on the gums, skin, or tongue
The borage plant is commonly known as the starflower because the flowers are shaped like stars. Borage is part of the Boraginaceae family in the borago genus. There are many other names this plant is known by:
- Bee plant
- Borage flower
- Borago officinalis
- Common borage
- Common bugloss
- Ox’s tongue
Causes of Borage Poisoning in Dogs
The cause of borage poisoning is the exposure to or consumption of any part of the borage plant due to one or more of these substances.
- Pyrrolizidine alkaloids
Diagnosis of Borage Poisoning in Dogs
Your veterinarian will have an easier time making a definitive diagnosis if you can bring in a sample of the plant your dog consumed. A physical examination will be done to get your dog’s vitals and overall health condition. Your dog’s medical history can help the veterinarian with the diagnosis as well, and be sure to tell them if your dog has been ill recently or is on any medication. The veterinarian will take urine, stool, and blood samples to check for kidney and liver damage as well as glucose, blood gases, and blood oxygen levels. Some digital radiographs (x-rays) may also be necessary to check for internal damage or infection. An endoscopy may be done with your dog under sedation to see into the airway and upper gastrointestinal tract. Further tests that may need to be done are an MRI, ultrasound, and CT scans. Additionally, a liver biopsy is recommended if the veterinarian suspects liver damage
Treatment of Borage Poisoning in Dogs
Vomiting will not be induced because this may make the effects worse. Your veterinarian will give your dog anti-vomiting medication and intravenous fluids. Also, the team may give your dog medication for pain and to protect the liver. The veterinarian may want to keep your dog in the hospital for 24-48 hours for observation and supplemental treatment, depending on the severity of the symptoms. In some cases, a feeding tube may be necessary if the oils from the borage plant irritated or damaged the esophagus. Topical ointment may be applied to reduce the pain of the irritation to your dog’s skin, if necessary.
Recovery of Borage Poisoning in Dogs
With a moderate consumption of borage, most dogs recover completely within 24-48 hours if treated right away. If your dog is a toy breed or ate a large amount of borage, an overnight stay in the hospital is best so they can keep an eye on your furry friend. Once you are able to go home, be sure to get rid of the borage plant and any other poisonous plants or substances within reach of your dog.