What is Charming Dieffenbachia Poisoning?
The charming dieffenbachia is a tropical plant in the Araceae family displaying large flat leaves with attractive white markings. All parts of the charming dieffenbachia contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals and these crystals can cause intense pain and irritation when chewed or swallowed. The irritation caused by the sharp crystals usually prevents animals from doing more than sampling the plant. On rare occasions, the dog may swallow larger amounts of plant material. On those occasions, your canine companion may require a visit to the veterinarian’s office.
The charming dieffenbachia (Dieffenbachia amoena) contains calcium oxalate crystals which can cause intense pain and irritation in the mouth and gastrointestinal tract if ingested by your pet.
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Symptoms of Charming Dieffenbachia Poisoning in Dogs
The charming dieffenbachia plant contains insoluble calcium oxalate crystals in all parts of the plant. When chewed or swallowed these crystals can cause:
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Dilated eyes
- Difficulty swallowing
- Excessive drooling
- Hoarse barking
- Labored breathing
- Loss of appetite
- Numbness of exposed area
- Obstructed of the airway
- Pawing/rubbing at the face or mouth
- Swelling of the tongue and lips
The Dieffenbachia amoena plant is a tropical plant with attractive broad leaves with conspicuous white markings. It most commonly called a charming dieffenbachia but also goes by the names dumb cane and tropic snow. Several other types of plants contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals which are the cause of irritation from euphorbia variety plants. These plants can include:
- Arrowhead vine (Syngonium podophyllum)
- Calla or arum lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica)
- Candelabra cactus (Euphorbia lactea)
- Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestrum)
- Devil’s ivy (Pothos, Epipremnum)
- Elephant’s Ear (Alocasia/Caladium/Xanthosoma)
- Flamingo plant (Anthurium)
- Fruit salad plant (Monstera)
- Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)
- Peace lily (Spathiphyllum)
- Philodendron (Philodendron)
- Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum)
- Skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)
- Wild calla (Calla)
Causes of Charming Dieffenbachia Poisoning in Dogs
All parts of the charming dieffenbachia contain the calcium oxalate crystals that can cause distress to your pet. Calcium oxalate is a calcium salt of oxalic acid which produces irritation and numbness to the tissues it contacts. Chewing any part of the plant usually causes immediate pain and inflammation to the mouth and throat as the tiny crystals are embedded into the soft tissues that they contact. If any of the sap or plant material is swallowed the irritation can extend to the throat and down through the GI tract, causing swelling and severe pain. The swelling can also cause breathing difficulties if the airway is blocked.
Diagnosis of Charming Dieffenbachia Poisoning in Dogs
Many of the symptoms of exposure to the calcium oxalate crystals from the charming dieffenbachia will present instantaneously so identification of the plant is often all that is required for diagnosing the cause of agony. Symptoms have occasionally been known to take up to two hours to show up. If you did not observe what your pet ingested, or if your dog ingested sizeable quantities of the plant, your veterinarian may recommend a visit to the office. The veterinarian will want to get information from you about any concurrent supplements or prescriptions that your dog is on, as well as instances where you may have felt that your dog could have ingested something as he explored the yard or garden area. A complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis will generally be done at this point in order to reveal any concurrent diseases or disorders. If your dog is vomiting from exposure to the plant material, then the vomitus will also be examined and tested for toxins. Leaves and stems in the vomit may help confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment of Charming Dieffenbachia Poisoning in Dogs
Immediate treatment will start with a thorough rinsing out of the mouth and affected areas with clean and cool water to remove as many of the irritating crystals as possible. You may also want to offer your canine something else cool to eat or drink, such as water containing ice chips, to ease the mouth pain until you are able to visit the veterinarian. The unpleasant taste and discomfort will usually prevent most canines from consuming much of the actual plant material, so rinsing the mouth area may be all that is needed. In certain circumstances, your veterinarian may also recommend giving your dog an appropriate pain reliever or antihistamine.
If a sizeable amount of the plant material or sap was ingested a visit to the veterinarian’s office is generally recommended. IV fluid treatment will be offered to prevent dehydration, and if an antihistamine was not previously administered, administration as an intramuscular injection may occur at this time. Gastroprotective medications may be recommended to prevent damage to the stomach lining. If the airway is significantly swollen your canine may need to be kept under observation at the office until the swelling subsides.
Recovery of Charming Dieffenbachia Poisoning in Dogs
Prognosis for dogs affected by ingesting smaller amounts of the plants containing the calcium oxalate crystals, such as the charming dieffenbachia, is usually quite good. The painful effects of the crystals in the mouth and gastrointestinal tract usually are usually dispelled within twelve to twenty-four hours from ingestion. Any swelling that has occurred in the airway will need to be evaluated by a veterinarian. Massive doses of calcium oxalate crystals are rare due to the initial pain and discomfort in the mouth. When larger doses do occur they can cause liver and kidney damage so the liver and kidneys may need further monitoring in the event of the ingestion of substantial quantities of the sap.