What is Climbing Nightshade Poisoning?
Climbing nightshade is a member of the genus Solanum and the family known as Solanaceae. The species is rather large, and although it is considered a species of poisonous plants, the genus Solanum boasts many food crops that are vital to our economy and health. These include tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant. Climbing nightshade is often referred to as simply “Nightshade” and is typically found in the United Kingdom and the United States as well as other parts of North America, although it is native to Asia and Europe.
Climbing nightshade are beautiful perennials that may be up to 4 meters tall with flowers of various shades that usually have five petals fused together. The flowers can be purple, yellow, and white and are adorned with berries that may be red to orange in color. Since there are varieties of this plant, colorings may differ. This plant is extremely toxic when eaten by dogs and other animals due to the solanine, which is a member of the group of tropane alkaloids. The foliage of the plant and the berries are toxic.
Climbing nightshade poisoning in dogs is a result of dogs ingesting quantities of the climbing nightshade plant. This plant is very toxic as it contains tropane alkaloids which greatly impact the central nervous system.
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Symptoms of Climbing Nightshade Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog consumes climbing nightshade, he will experience a myriad of symptoms. Some of the symptoms may be quite severe, so is imperative to get him to the veterinarian possible. Symptoms can include:
- Depression of the central nervous system
- Dilated pupils
- Depressed heart rate
- Respiratory failure
- Slow breathing
Climbing nightshade is a very poisonous plant. It is important to be familiar with this plant as well as the many names this plant possesses. Alternate names for climbing nightshade include:
- Bitter nightshade
- Bittersweet nightshade
- Blue bindweed
- Poison flower
- Scarlet berry
- Trailing nightshade
- Violet bloom
- Woody nightshade
- Trailing bittersweet
Causes of Climbing Nightshade Poisoning in Dogs
Causes of climbing nightshade poisoning are from dogs ingesting all or part of the plant. Specific causes of toxicity include:
- The reaction of the body towards solanine
- The tropane alkaloids’ anticholinergic effects on the central nervous system
- The inhibition of nerve impulses receptors becoming blocked
- The resulting depression, hallucination, rapid heart rate, and respiratory system failure
Diagnosis of Climbing Nightshade Poisoning in Dogs
If you suspect or know for sure that your dog ingested climbing nightshade, it is of the utmost importance to take him to the veterinarian as soon as possible, even if it is after hours. If it is after hours, it is very important to find an emergency animal hospital.
Taking a piece of the plant with you will help the veterinarian come to a diagnosis quickly so your dog can receive rapid treatment. An immediate physical examination will take place with assessment of your dog’s symptoms, and the performing of laboratory testing. The veterinarian will do blood testing, urinalysis, and a biochemistry profile. These tests will confirm any toxicity from the tropane alkaloids and will reveal the functionality of your dog’s organs.
When the veterinarian is making a diagnosis, this will more than likely be combined with symptomatic treatment. The ingestion of climbing nightshade may cause severe symptoms that require immediate medical treatment. Fortunately, the veterinarian is trained to quickly diagnose plant toxicity and will provide the treatment he feels is necessary to save your dog’s life while he is making the definitive diagnosis. Most likely your dog will also be hooked up to oxygen to receive fresh oxygen in order to prevent anemia within the organs.
Treatment of Climbing Nightshade Poisoning in Dogs
Treatment will begin immediately, as the tropane alkaloids of climbing nightshade negatively affect your dog’s central nervous system and other organs very rapidly. Treatment methods may include:
Your veterinarian may begin treatment with inducing vomiting in your dog, so he may help his body get rid of the toxins. Emesis is typically followed up with the use of activated charcoal, which is effective in absorbing any additional toxins in the stomach before they are released into the dog’s bloodstream and other organs. If necessary, the veterinarian may choose to perform a gastric lavage while your dog is under anesthesia.
Intravenous fluids will help your dog recover from any dehydration that may have occurred, especially if he suffered from diarrhea and vomiting after ingesting the plant. IV fluids also help restore any electrolytes to keep your dog stable, and also help in promoting proper kidney function.
Your veterinarian may choose to give your dog an antidote that can help with the toxicity of climbing nightshade. Physostigmine, which is commonly used to treat glaucoma and Alzheimer’s disease, is usually given to severe cases of climbing nightshade poisoning.
Recovery of Climbing Nightshade Poisoning in Dogs
Climbing nightshade poisoning is very serious, and unfortunately many dogs succumb to the toxicity. If your dog received rapid treatment, the prognosis is fair. Although the prognosis may be fair, it is still guarded as your dog continues to recover from the effects of the tropane alkaloids.
Your dog may have had to be hospitalized for several days; the veterinarian will choose to release him when he feels he is stable. Once you have your dog home it is very important to follow the veterinarian’s instructions on how to properly care for him at home. Your medical professional will explain to you how to do so and will tell you what to watch for in terms of new symptoms.
When your dog gets home, you may find that he is very tired and lethargic and will do a lot of sleeping due to any intravenous medications he has received. If he was put under anesthesia for a gastric lavage he may also need to have plenty of rest. It is very important to keep any follow-up visits so your veterinarian can run further tests to be sure he is clear from the toxins.