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Cineraria, also referred to as ragwort and dusty miller, is a perennial, evergreen shrub -like plant that may come in a variety of colors. The flowers may be a light shade of pink, blue, red, purple, and white, and can survive during very dry conditions. Cineraria plants are toxic to dogs and other animals, and although it is not pleasant-tasting, it may still be eaten, especially if there are no other types of plant around. This is why many grazing animals, such as horses, are much more susceptible to this type of poisoning. Rather than eating the flowers, if dogs ingest solely the green part of the plant they can also become poisoned.
The poisoning as a result of eating cineraria is referred to as pyrrolizidine alkaloidosis. Pyrrolizidine alkaloidosis is a disease of the liver caused by the pyrrolizidine alkaloids in the cineraria plant. These alkaloids are naturally produced by the plant to protect it against insects and other herbivores.
Cineraria poisoning in dogs occurs when dogs consume part or all of a cineraria plant. Consumption of this plant can cause pyrrolizidine alkaloidosis, which can be fatal.
Symptoms of cineraria toxicity may vary depending on the amount consumed, and can occur over a few days. Common symptoms of distress include:
Pyrrolizidine alkaloidosis is a severe and complex poisoning that directly affects the liver. This condition is caused by many types of plants that have natural toxins within the following types of plant genera and species:
The cause of poisoning from the cineraria plant begins with the consumption of the greenery or the flowers. The direct cause of toxicity is a result of:
If your dog is experiencing symptoms due to consuming cineraria, it is important to take him to the veterinarian as soon as possible. It is also important to tell the veterinarian the amount ingested, if possible. Primary diagnosis of cineraria poisoning will be made by the veterinarian according to the dog’s clinical signs and history.
The veterinarian may collect blood samples, urinalysis, and a biochemistry profile if he feels these are necessary. The veterinarian will be checking for toxic metabolites in the blood, as well as blood serum levels. The physician may have a first priority to check the liver tissue, as well as kidney tissue, and also perform a microscopic examination. Other results of the bloodwork will allow the veterinarian to take a closer look at the electrolytes and the PCV. PCV is the packed cell volume, and is a way to compare the volume of red blood cells to the volume of the blood itself (fluid).
Veterinary treatment may vary depending on the amount that was eaten and the level of poisoning. Your companion may require several stays in either an intensive care or critical care setting. Treatment may include:
The veterinarian may administer a solution of methionine and dextrose. This may help stabilize any abnormal functions in the liver, or hepatic insufficiency. This mixture can also improve blood glucose levels. IV fluids also help maintain the blood flow of the liver, improve the delivery of oxygen and assist in waste excretion. The veterinarian may also administer colloids to help the blood volume circulate properly and to clot effectively.
Oxygen therapy can assist with low blood pressure, pulmonary edema, and may help with the delivery of oxygen to the tissue of the liver.
The dog may require nutrition through a feeding tube. Frequent and very small meals can help with absorbing nutrients and proper digestion. A low-carbohydrate and high-protein diet will be recommended.
If your dog has responded to treatment, the veterinarian will want to keep him to continue to monitor his symptoms. Unfortunately, the prognosis is extremely guarded; cineraria toxicity can be fatal. If your dog responded to treatment and you are able to take him home, you will need to monitor him very closely. The veterinarian will give you specific instructions on how to administer any medications that have been given, and what to watch for in terms of new symptoms or side effects. Your veterinarian will also want to re-examine your companion, probably quite often, to be sure he is responding to treatment and recovering.
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