What is Chives Poisoning?
Chives are members within the Allium species, along with garlic, leeks, and onions. Chives and other members of the Allium species, and have always been used in cooking and for medicinal purposes. Over 90 percent of these types of plants are found in North America. All of these are poisonous to dogs to varying degrees.
Within this species, onions, garlic, chives, and leeks are domesticated and all have a signature aroma are of the Allium family, and are poisonous to both dogs and cats. The allium species has a natural deterrent known as organosulfoxides, namely referred to as aklenylcysteine sulfoxides. These convert over to sulfur compounds once the plants become damaged, such as with tearing or chewing. The compounds are also what causes the signature smell of chives and other members of the species, as well as the flavor and any medicinal effects of the plants. Chives are toxic whether or not they have been cooked, are absorbed through the gastrointestinal tract, and are broken down into extremely reactive oxidants.
Chives poisoning in dogs occurs when dogs ingest chives, either raw or cooked. Chives contain organosulfides which are natural poisons to protect the plant from herbivorous insects and pests.
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Symptoms of Chives Poisoning in Dogs
When dogs consume chives, they will exhibit signs of poisoning with the following symptoms:
- Irritation of the mouth
- Excessive drooling
- Pain in the abdomen
- Inability to exercise
- Rapid heartbeat
- Abnormally high respiratory rate
- White or very light gums
Specific types of substances are found within the Allium family; several of them have alternate names. Alternate names which are equally poisonous include:
- Allium schoenoprasum
Causes of Chives Poisoning in Dogs
When a dog consumes chives, a varying amount of toxicity can occur. Poisoning from chives is a direct result of the following:
- Oxidative hemolysis
- The cross-linking membrane reactions and the formation of eccentrocytes
- Increased erythrocyte frailty due to the formation of Heinz bodies and eccentrocytes
- Oxidative damage towards erythrocyte cell membranes
- Decreased blood oxygen levels
- Developing anemia
- Developing methemoglobinemia
Diagnosis of Chives Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog is suffering from any of the above symptoms and you suspect that he has eaten chives, is important to contact your veterinarian and immediately seek treatment. Once you meet your veterinarian, he will ask questions pertaining to the food ingested, the quantity consumed, the symptoms in which you observed, and the history of the time-frame.
The veterinarian will perform any necessary testing to make a diagnosis and a definitive diagnosis comes from a confirmation of Heinz body hemolytic anemia. Blood testing, urinalysis, a biochemistry profile, and other testing may occur as well. There are a few differential diagnoses of chive poisoning in dogs. Propylene glycol poisoning, acetaminophen, vitamin K, or benzocaine toxicity symptoms are similar to chives poisoning symptoms. Zinc, copper, and naphthalene poisoning are other types that will need to be ruled out.
Treatment of Chives Poisoning in Dogs
There is no true antidote for chive or other Allium species poisoning. The treatment of the anemia is a primary form of handling the toxicity. Other treatment methods may include:
Gastrointestinal contamination by the induction of vomiting followed by the administration of activated charcoal is effective. This can help remove the toxin from the dog’s system.
IV fluids may also be given to the dog to further prevent or control any dehydration, hemoglobinuria, hypotension, and to stabilize blood oxygen levels. Crystalloids may also be given if the dog is having episodes of vomiting or diarrhea.
The dog will need to be monitored for several days, including the levels of blood cells, or erythron. Some physicians may administer antioxidants, but studies do not prove the effectiveness as of yet.
Recovery of Chives Poisoning in Dogs
As for recovery, the prognosis depends on the amount of chives ingested. The extensiveness of the anemia also affects the chances of a successful recovery. Supportive care will need to be continued at home and the veterinarian will give you detailed directions on how to maintain supportive care within the home.
The veterinarian will want to have the dog come in for follow-up visits in order to have his blood work re-checked for anemia and to be sure the dog is adequately recovering. The physician may recommend foods which are low in oxidants and that do not contain propylene glycol. It is important to keep your dog out of contact of any chives or any Allium species in order to prevent any further poisoning.