What is Brunfelsia Poisoning?
Brunfelsia plants, most commonly known as yesterday, today, and tomorrow plants, are a beautiful addition to many gardens that blooms throughout the summer, but can be dangerous for any animal that eats it. Also known as lady of the night, noon and night, and the Franciscan rain tree, all parts of the plant are toxic although the toxins are mainly concentrated in the berries and seed pods. This flowering plant contains a combination of three distinct toxins that affect your pet in multiple ways. Poisoning from a brunfelsia plant should be treated as an urgent matter as it can be fatal, and supportive therapies are vital.
Brunfelsia plants, although beautiful, also contain a deadly toxin that affects the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system, and ingestion should be considered an emergency.
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Symptoms of Brunfelsia Poisoning in Dogs
The symptoms of poisoning by the plants in the Brunfelsia family can have an effect on both the gastrointestinal and the neurological systems. Signs of poisoning by these plants include:
- Excessive drooling
- Lack of coordination
- Muscle rigidity
There are a number of toxins that may be in close proximity to your yesterday, today and tomorrow plant that can result in similar symptoms. Other sources of toxicity that may be easily confused with Brunfelsia poisoning can include:
- Spider bite - Neurotoxic effects from spider bites in North America are usually the result of being bitten by a black widow spider
- Snail bait - The dangerous neurotoxin in snail bait, metaldehyde, is often formed into pellets containing canine tempting flavors such as molasses and apple
- Toad poisoning - The signs of toad venom poison are very similar to the signs of brunfelsia poisoning, but toad venom will also cause reddened gums and ropy saliva
Causes of Brunfelsia Poisoning in Dogs
There are three components responsible for the toxicity of this beautiful flower:
- Brunfelsamidine - This is the component that is responsible for exciting the nervous system, which can lead to seizures and death
- Hopeanine - This toxin depresses the central nervous system leading to weakness and paralysis
- Scopoletin - This compound is also known as gelseminic acid and is a muscle relaxant that affects the smooth muscles, it can cause a drop in blood pressure and heart rate due to neuromuscular block
Diagnosis of Brunfelsia Poisoning in Dogs
Identification is often enough information to make a preliminary diagnosis if the consumption of any part of this decorative plant was witnessed. If your dog ate a plant that you think may be a yesterday, today, and tomorrow plant, and is exhibiting symptoms, but are not sure, take a sample of the plant to the veterinarian to ensure a speedier identification for treatment. If you didn’t observe the ingestion of the plant, your dog’s doctor will take note of any opportunistic eating that is suspected in addition to any concurrent prescriptions or supplements that your dog is taking. The symptoms will indicate the involvement of a neurotoxin, and blood chemistry tests will be done in an attempt to reveal or confirm which toxins are responsible for the reaction, and to check for any drug interactions that may affect the treatment plan. Plant material is likely to be found in the vomit and stools and will help to confirm any preliminary diagnosis.
Treatment of Brunfelsia Poisoning in Dogs
If your pet consumes any part of the brunfelsia plant, you should take them to the veterinarian’s office for decontamination and supportive therapies. Emetics are not recommended as they can instigate seizure activity, but activated charcoal will be administered to the patient to attempt to soak up as many of the toxic compounds as possible. Decontamination by gastric lavage will be used to remove as much of the material from the patient’s stomach as possible and to prevent the three toxins from passing from the digestive system into the bloodstream. Gastric lavage is likely to be done under general anesthetic. There is no antidote to poisoning from this plant, so treatment is generally supportive, including intravenous fluids for dehydration as well as mixtures of electrolytes and sugars to adjust for any imbalances that develop. Anti-seizure medications may also be administered to reduce or halt the seizures and tremors characteristic of brunfelsia poisonings.
Recovery of Brunfelsia Poisoning in Dogs
A relaxing and quiet environment to return home to will help your pet recover more quickly. Symptoms of neurotoxicity can last several hours and dogs that are recovering from anesthesia, as would be required for gastric lavage, may have coordination difficulties when they return home. They are often confused and disoriented, and isolation from other pets and from children may be advised until both the toxic compounds and the sedatives have fully cleared your companion’s system. In some circumstances, your veterinarian may recommend regular monitoring of blood chemistry levels for your pet, particularly in relation to liver and kidney functionality or impairment.