What is Caraway Poisoning?
Caraway grows in North Africa, Europe, and Asia, and is also known as Kala jeera, fennel, or cumin. The seed is dried and sold all over the world as a spice or herbal medication. This plant can grow up to two feet tall and it has fern type leaves. When flowering, the blooms will be either red, pink, or white and the crescent-shaped fruits (seeds) are brown. Caraway is sold all over the world as a spice; used to make rye bread and desserts, and is popular in Middle Eastern cuisine.
Caraway poisoning is caused by the consumption of or exposure to caraway seeds, which contain essential oils and terpenoids. These can cause skin irritation, gastrointestinal, neurological, convulsant, and phototoxic effects. There is also recent evidence that cumin interrupts the clotting of blood, which can cause serious bleeding disorders. In addition, in some cases cumin may cause a serious decrease in glucose levels.
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Symptoms of Caraway Poisoning in Dogs
The symptoms of caraway poisoning depend on the amount eaten or exposed to and the size and health of your dog. In addition to these symptoms, long-term exposure and consumption can cause cancer and excessive consumption may lead to liver and kidney damage.
- Blood thinner
- Decreased glucose level (blood sugar)
- Muscle contractions
- Muscle tremors
- Difficulty breathing
- Respiratory arrest
- Phototoxic effects
- Skin irritation
Caraway (carum carvi) is part of the Umbelliferae family in the order of the apiales and genus carum. Caraway is also known by several other names.
- Kala jeera
- Meridian fennel
- Persian cumin
Causes of Caraway Poisoning in Dogs
There are three known materials in caraway that can cause toxicity in dogs.
- Carvone is a terpenoid with toxic principles that may cause a blood thinner effect.
- Limonene is a terpene that causes skin and respiratory irritation.
- Essential oil (caraway oil) is known to cause digestive, skin, and neurological irritation
Diagnosis of Caraway Poisoning in Dogs
It is a good idea to bring a sample or a photo of the caraway plant you think was eaten in order to help get a definite diagnosis. Tell the veterinarian exactly when you think your dog ate the plant and whether there have been any side effects. Provide your dog’s medical and immunization records. A comprehensive physical examination will be done by the veterinarian next to determine your dog’s condition. Weight, blood pressure, respiration rate, blood oxygen level, body temperature, reflexes, heart rate and overall appearance will be noted.
A urine test, blood urea nitrogen (BUN) level, biochemistry profile, and complete blood count will be done. An increase in creatinine, phosphates, proteins, and potassium may be found with a drop in blood glucose levels.
An abdominal ultrasound and radiographs (x-rays) should be done to see if there is any damage to the internal organs and to determine what damage may have been done. If the veterinarian needs a more detailed view, a CT scan or MRI will be ordered. To get a look at your dog’s esophagus and airway, the veterinarian will probably want to do an endoscopy. A long, skinny tube with a tiny camera attached will be guided down your dog’s throat to see if there is any damage or irritation. Anesthesia and sedatives will usually be provided during this procedure.
Treatment of Caraway Poisoning in Dogs
It is not recommended to induce vomiting in the case of caraway poisoning because this can escalate the symptoms. The veterinarian will start an intravenous (IV) line to give your dog fluids, anti-vomiting, and anti-seizure medication. Pain medication will also be given as needed and medication to protect the stomach and liver can be helpful as well. The veterinarian may want to keep your dog in the hospital for about 24 hours to observe and treat when needed. If your dog has damage or irritation of the esophagus, a feeding tube will be recommended, and topical medication will be applied where needed.
Recovery of Caraway Poisoning in Dogs
Because of the possibility of kidney or liver damage and anticoagulant (blood thinner) affect, the prognosis is guarded. Recovery is dependent on the amount of caraway your dog has eaten and the symptoms that have been noted. Prompt medical attention is necessary to the recovery of your dog. In addition, make sure you get rid of the caraway plants or move them to a place your dog cannot get to so this does not happen again. Call your veterinarian if you have any concerns or questions.