What is Chandelier Poisoning?
The chandelier plant is known by many names; it is more commonly known as kalanchoe or devil’s backbone. This plant can be found in or around many homes due to its aesthetically pleasing appearance. However, many dog owners unknowingly bring this flower into their home leading to cases of accidental toxicity. While some toxicity cases are mild involving only gastrointestinal upset, more severe toxicity cases can result in abnormal heart rate or even death. If you catch and correct the toxicity soon after ingestion and proper decontamination steps are taken, your dog’s prognosis of a full recovery is good.
The chandelier plant is a beautiful flowering plant with hundreds of tiny flowers making up larger blooms. While this plant is pretty to have in your garden, it is toxic to your dog, with symptoms ranging from mild to life-threatening. If you believe your dog ingested a part of the chandelier plant, get him to a veterinarian immediately.
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Symptoms of Chandelier Poisoning in Dogs
Symptoms of chandelier plant poisoning in dogs may vary from case to case. Symptoms may include:
- Dilated pupils
- Abnormal heart rate
The chandelier plant belongs to the Crassulaceae family and has the scientific name of Kalanchoe tubiflora. Other common names the chandelier plant goes by includes mother-in-law plant, kalanchoe, mother of millions, and devil’s backbone. The chandelier plant is commonly found in homes and gardens due to its aesthetically pleasing properties. This flower comes in a variety of colors and blooms with hundreds of small flowers.
Causes of Chandelier Poisoning in Dogs
The chandelier plant contains bufadienolides which is a cardiac glycoside toxin. This toxin interferes with the electrolyte balance of the heart muscle. Cardiac glycosides inhibit the sodium-potassium pump which allows the heart to work more efficiently. Cardiac glycosides are medications commonly prescribed to dogs with heart problems. However, when given to or ingested by a healthy dog, it leads to toxicity and possibly even death.
Diagnosis of Chandelier Poisoning in Dogs
When you first arrive at the clinic, the veterinarian will begin by performing a physical examination on your dog. This will allow her to assess his symptoms and note any abnormalities of his vitals. Blood work will be performed to give the veterinarian an idea as to how the internal organs are functioning as a result of the poisoning. A complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry panel will provide the veterinarian with needed information for proper assessment. A packed cell volume (PCV) may also be performed to determine whether your pet is experiencing dehydration. The veterinarian may also perform a urinalysis for further evaluation of kidney function; this may also help to indicate the level of toxicity.
If your dog vomits while at the clinic, the veterinarian will examine the contents for any evidence as to what he ingested. If your dog is experiencing diarrhea, a fecal sample may be taken and tests performed to rule out internal parasites or bacterial overgrowth. A radiograph may be taken to allow the veterinarian a closer look at your dog’s heart if he is experiencing cardiac issues. The veterinarian may also want to perform an ultrasound or an ECG as another form of assessment of the heart.
Treatment of Chandelier Poisoning in Dogs
Your dog will be kept on monitoring equipment until his heart returns to its normal function. The monitoring equipment will give constant readings of the heart beat which will allow the veterinarian to observe exactly how the heart is functioning. If your dog’s heart rate is abnormal or part of his heart is malfunctioning, the veterinarian may administer medications to counteract these abnormalities.
Your veterinarian may induce vomiting in your dog to expel any remaining plant particles from his stomach. If the vomit is clear and unsuccessful at producing any plant remnants, she may administer activated charcoal to bind and absorb the remaining toxin before the body does. Fluid therapy will be started to flush the toxin from your dog’s body quickly and efficiently. Fluid therapy will also correct and prevent any degree of dehydration your dog may be suffering due to excessive vomiting and diarrhea.
If your dog is suffering incoordination, weakness, confusion or any related symptoms, the veterinarian will try to keep him calm and quiet to avoid any unnecessary excitement. Additional medications will be administered according to your dog’s needs. For example, if your dog is seizing, an anti-seizure medication will be administered.
Recovery of Chandelier Poisoning in Dogs
Toxicity from the chandelier plant may be considered moderate to severe. The severity of the toxicity will be determined by which part of the chandelier plant and the amount your dog consumed. If your dog does not receive veterinary attention, his chance for a full recovery greatly declines.
While toxicity symptoms can be mild such as gastrointestinal related symptoms, you should still take your dog to the veterinarian. You want to prevent any type of symptoms that may affect the heart to develop. Once the heart is affected, you must seek veterinary care in order for your dog to survive.
Your dog may be kept in the hospital until all symptoms subside and all of his lab work comes back normal. Even if you do seek veterinary attention as soon as possible, your dog may not recover. To prevent any of this from happening, educate yourself on what plants you bring in and around your home. If you have the chandelier plant in your garden, be sure your dog cannot get to it. If you have it indoors, keep it at a height your dog cannot reach. Even the most well behaved dogs get curious and the consequences will be fatal.