What is California Ivy Poisoning?
Although California ivy is known by several other names, they all contain the poisonous substances triterpenoid falcarinol, carinol, and didehydrofal, and hederagenin (steroid saponin). Each of these toxins can be dangerous, but the California ivy has all of them in the leaves, so it is important to keep your dog and other animals (and small children) away from these plants. The respiratory depression is the most worrying complication, which is created by the inflammation of the bronchioles, making it impossible for your dog to breathe. The gastrointestinal symptoms are also dangerous due to the possibility of dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea. Even if your dog shows no symptoms, get your pet to the veterinarian as soon as possible or visit an animal hospital if you cannot get an appointment with your veterinarian right away.
California ivy poisoning in dogs is caused by consuming the leaves or berries of the California ivy plant. The leaves are actually more dangerous than the berries and will make your dog extremely ill, causing intestinal, neurological, and cardiovascular symptoms. These symptoms (abdominal pain, seizure, abnormal heart rate) are caused by the polyacetylene and saponins in the plants, which are most concentrated in the leaves. These chemicals may be fatal if your dog consumed a large amount of the plant and is not treated right away. The biggest danger to watch for is breathing trouble, but even if your dog does not show any symptoms it is best to see your veterinarian just in case.
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Symptoms of California Ivy Poisoning in Dogs
California ivy poisoning symptoms are varying considering the amount consumed and what part of the plant was eaten. Symptoms can also vary due to the health and size of your dog.
The most common symptoms of California ivy poisoning are:
- Abnormal heart rate
- Abnormal thirst
- Appetite loss
- Bleeding from the nose
- Bloody diarrhea
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive drooling
- Gastrointestinal irritation
- Hyperactive behavior
- Pupils may be dilated
- Stomach pain
- Unable to urinate
- Inflammation of mucous membranes
- Itchy or painful rash
- Watering eyes
California Ivy (hedera helix) is part of the Araliacea family and is known by several other names:
- Branching ivy
- English ivy
- Glacier ivy
- Needlepoint ivy
- Sweetheart ivy
Causes of California Ivy Poisoning in Dogs
Diagnosis of California Ivy Poisoning in Dogs
Bring the veterinarian a piece of the California ivy or a photo so they can be sure of which ivy it was. The veterinarian will give your dog a complete examination to check for any other illnesses or injury. They may find part of undigested ivy or berries in the stool or vomit, which can help. If you happen to notice that at home, you should bring a sample in a plastic baggie. A complete physical includes your dog’s heart rate, respirations, reflexes, body temperature, blood pressure, lung sounds, weight, and overall appearance. Laboratory tests will also be done, which will include blood, stool, and urine tests, electrolyte and chemistry panel, x-rays, and liver function tests. An ultrasound, CT scan, and MRI may also be needed to get a better look at your dog’s organ condition and function. An electrocardiogram (EKG) can show the muscular and electrical performance of the heart. Your dog’s stomach contents may be examined under a microscope to get a definite diagnosis.
Treatment of California Ivy Poisoning in Dogs
Intravenous (IV) fluids, accompanied by oxygen therapy, will be given to flush the poisons from your pet’s system and to decrease the chances for dehydration due to diarrhea and vomiting. A gastric lavage may be done with a long skinny tube that is inserted into your dog’s stomach through the nose or mouth to clean out your pet’s system with saline solution. Activated charcoal can also be helpful in absorbing the toxins to keep them from being absorbed by the stomach. Pain medication will also be given as needed and a medication to protect the stomach and liver can be helpful as well. An overnight stay may be necessary to watch your dog for complications.
Recovery of California Ivy Poisoning in Dogs
The recovery for your dog is very good if you get treatment as soon as possible and your pooch is healthy to begin with. Ivy poisoning is not usually deadly unless your companion is older, ill, or a puppy. Your veterinarian may recommend you give your dog a bland diet to let the stomach and intestines heal from the trauma. Also, be sure to put any ivy plants out of the reach of your dog to make sure this does not happen again. Call your veterinarian with any concerns or questions.