What is Caladium Poisoning?
The caladium plant is a houseplant with heart shaped leaves that look like wings. In fact, some call this plant angel wings or heart of Jesus. This plant can be very toxic to your dog. In fact, it can even be fatal if not treated right away. If your dog eats any part of the caladium plant, the first symptom you will see is also the deadliest; a swollen airway leading to inability to breathe. To help with this problem, you can rinse your dog’s mouth out with cold water on a washcloth. Clean any plant residue from your dog’s face and rinse out his eyes, but do not induce vomiting unless the veterinarian tells you to do so. The liquid inside of the leaves and stalk is also an irritant to your dog’s skin as well as the thorns. This can cause skin pain, itching, and redness.
Caladium poisoning is caused by the caladium plant, which contains an insoluble calcium oxalate acid. The calcium oxalate has crystals that leech into the tissues of your dog’s skin and mouth which causes injury to your dog’s mouth. The immediate signs of caladium poisoning are pawing at the face and mouth, vomiting, foaming, and drooling. The swelling of the mouth, tongue, and upper airway can produce breathing trouble and difficulty in swallowing. This can be quickly lethal for your dog if you do not get immediate medical help. Your dog can also experience a toxic reaction to the skin and eyes from the liquid or oils inside the leaves and stalk, and puncture wounds from the thorns.
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Symptoms of Caladium Poisoning in Dogs
The symptoms of alocasia poisoning from ingestion or skin contact with the caladium plant can happen quite fast and include:
- Burning skin pain
- Eye irritation
- Inflammation of the skin
- Redness, pain, and burning of the eyes
- Skin irritation and redness
- Tearing eyes
- Abdominal pain
- Difficulty with vocalization
- Difficulty swallowing
- Eye pain
- Lack of appetite
- Lip swelling
- Mouth pain
- Mouth ulcers
- Numb mouth
- Red eyes
- Severe burning in the mouth and throat
- Sore throat
- Swelling of the tongue and mouth can cause difficulty in breathing
- Tongue pain
- Watery eyes
- Topical caladium poisoning is caused by the exposure of your dog’s skin to the oils or liquid in the leaves, stalk, or roots of the caladium plant, it can also be caused by being stuck by a thorn from the caladium
- Oral caladium poisoning happens if your dog eats any part of the caladium plant, including the leaves, root, and stalk
Causes of Caladium Poisoning in Dogs
There are two ways for your dog to get caladium poisoning. Exposure of the skin (topical) and ingestion (oral) of the caladium plant.
- Oils or liquid inside the caladium plant
- Puncture wound from the thorns
Diagnosis of Caladium Poisoning in Dogs
If you witnessed your dog eating a caladium plant, bring a sample of the plant with you to show the veterinarian. This will help speed up the diagnosis, which is mostly based on your information, such as what part of the plant your dog ate, how much, and what time it happened. Be sure to let the veterinarian know of any symptoms you have already noticed as well. A thorough physical examination will be done, which includes abdominal palpation, body temperature, height, weight, reflexes, blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen level. Make sure the veterinarian also knows your dog’s medical history, including vaccinations, past illnesses and injuries, and abnormal behavior or appetite.
Blood tests, such as a complete blood count (CBC), blood chemical profile, blood gases, and glucose test. A urinalysis is another test that is helpful in diagnosing alocasia poisoning because the caladium contains asparagine, which increases protein levels. Some images of your dog’s abdomen will be taken with radiographs (x-rays) and an ultrasound to help see the contents of your dog’s stomach.
Treatment of Caladium Poisoning in Dogs
The treatment will depend on how much your dog has eaten and how long ago it happened. If diarrhea and vomiting are present, the veterinarian will administer IV fluids to flush the toxins from your dog’s system. They will also monitor your dog’s vital signs, which includes body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, respirations, and oxygen level. Antiemetics will be given through your dog’s IV to control vomiting. Depending on your dog’s overall health and condition, the veterinarian may decide to keep him in the hospital overnight for observation.
Recovery of Caladium Poisoning in Dogs
Once your dog is allowed to go home, prepare a safe and quiet place for him to relax for at least one more day. It is preferable to keep your dog caged overnight to prevent overexertion. Your veterinarian may put your dog on a special bland diet until his digestive system is back to normal, so be sure to follow those directions and provide plenty of fresh water at all times. To prevent this from happening in the future, be sure to keep poisonous plants and medications out of your dog’s reach.
Caladium Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My 4 year old Shorkie chewed on some caladium bulbs. She is up on all innoculations and has been in good health. She was in contact with the bulbs about 3 hours ago. She is not showing any signs of distress and is acting normal. Should I be worried or is she okay?
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