What is Climbing Bittersweet Poisoning?
Climbing bittersweet is a member of the genus Solanum and the Solanaceae family. The species is large, and is considered a species of poisonous plants. However, the genus Solanum contains food crops such as potato plants, eggplants, and tomatoes. This plant is found in the United States as well as the United Kingdom and is native to parts of Europe and Asia.
These perennials can grow up to 4 meters high and contain flowers of many shades such as yellow, purple, and white. Climbing bittersweet also has berries that are reddish-orange and may vary from plant to plant. These perennials are used in many public places because of their beauty and ease on the eyes. These plants should not be in homes that have dogs or other animals as they are very toxic. Climbing bittersweet contains solanine, which is the toxic agent within this plant. Ingestion can result in a variety of harmful symptoms and needs to be treated immediately.
Climbing bittersweet poisoning in dogs can happen when dogs ingest the climbing bittersweet plant; it is highly toxic as it contains tropane alkaloids which negatively affect the central nervous system.
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Symptoms of Climbing Bittersweet Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog eats climbing bittersweet, he will experience moderate to severe symptoms. Some of the symptoms may be quite alarming, so is very important to take him to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Symptoms of climbing bittersweet poisoning are:
- Nervous system abnormalities
- Dilated pupils
- Slowing of the heart rate
- Slowing of the respiratory system
Climbing bittersweet is a highly toxic plant. Alternate names for climbing bittersweet include:
- Better bittersweet
- Climbing nightshade
- Blue bindweed
- Snake berry
- Violet bloom
- Trailing bittersweet
- Woody bittersweet
Causes of Climbing Bittersweet Poisoning in Dogs
Causes of climbing bittersweet poisoning are from dogs ingesting all or part of the plant. Specific causes of toxicity are:
- The solanine and effects on the system
- Central nervous system depression
- Blocked nerve impulse receptors
- Rapid heart rate and the failure of the respiratory system
- The effects of the hallucinations and depression
Diagnosis of Climbing Bittersweet Poisoning in Dogs
If you suspect or know for sure that your dog has ingested climbing bittersweet, it is imperative to call your veterinarian as soon as possible. The veterinarian may give you instructions on how to conduct emesis from home. It may be helpful to bring in a sample of the vomit as well as the plant. This will help the veterinarian make a faster diagnosis.
The veterinarian will perform a physical examination on your dog. He will take bloodwork, urinalysis, and a biochemistry profile. The veterinarian will be looking for signs of tropane alkaloids poisoning, so he may conduct other tests to help him determine if this is the case. By looking at his symptoms, examining the test results, and seeing the plant that he ingested, the veterinarian will come to a conclusion that your dog has climbing bittersweet toxicity.
Symptomatic treatment well occur even during the diagnostic phase. The veterinarian may go ahead and apply oxygen therapy and intravenous fluids to your dog. The veterinarian may also do anything he feels is necessary to treat your dog while making the diagnosis in order to save his life.
Treatment of Climbing Bittersweet Poisoning in Dogs
Treatment will begin immediately, as the solanine and tropane alkaloids of climbing bittersweet may affect your dog’s organs and central nervous system. Treatment methods which the veterinarian will perform include:
Your veterinarian may induce vomiting your dog, even if you have already done so at home. This will help your dog get rid of the toxic substances in his body. This will also be followed up with the administration of activated charcoal to further prevent the absorption of the alkaloids into his system.
After putting your dog under anesthesia, your veterinarian may perform gastric lavage. This is quite effective in flushing out any toxins. This is performed by the veterinarian inserting a tube into your dog’s abdominal cavity and flushing out the contents.
IV fluids are very effective in helping your dog rehydrate, especially after bouts of diarrhea and vomiting. IV fluids restore electrolytes and can help prevent anemia. They are also effective in encouraging proper function of the kidneys.
Physostigmine is the antidote of choice for climbing bittersweet poisoning. This medication may be given through the IV drip and is used in severe cases of tropane alkaloids poisoning.
Recovery of Climbing Bittersweet Poisoning in Dogs
Climbing bittersweet poisoning can be quite serious, but if your dog has received immediate medical attention he may recover quite nicely. Although the recovery is guarded and will take time, your veterinarian will do whatever he needs to do to make sure your dog can recover. Your companion may need to be hospitalized for quite some time for this to happen.
Once you are able to bring your dog home from the hospital, it will be very important to follow your veterinarian’s instruction on aftercare. The veterinarian may suggest a bland diet or a prescription diet to help ease your dog’s stomach after the treatment he received. He may also need to sleep often, so be sure to encourage rest and no active play. Also, watch for any new symptoms that may develop; if any develop that are of concern contact your veterinarian without hesitation. To prevent poisoning, be sure to remove any toxic plants from your home or property. If you are unsure of which plants are toxic to dogs, you can ask your veterinarian, a plant expert, or the ASPCA that is local to you.
Climbing Bittersweet Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
I caught my almost 6 month old 54lb+ Golden Retriever chewing what I've researched to be a pink variation of bindweed. There were no berries present. He was fine at first and roughly 12 hours later started vomiting. He vomited off and on, once every hour or so for a couple hours. He defecated fine this morning however can't seem to keep food down, but wants to eat. He seems lethargic after vomiting, which he just did again, consuming a much smaller portion of his lunch along with a small amount of water roughly half an hour ago. He has wanted to also play once or twice after. I have also not seen any of the actual plant in his bile, which first appear yellow and is not clear for the most part, or stool.
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