What is Cordatum Poisoning?
Cordatum is part of the Araceae family and has the scientific name of Philodendron oxycardium. The plant itself is popular due to the easy care and ability to grow well in low light situations. The cordatum is the most popular indoor plant of the philodendron family, with green trailing leaves that are heart shaped. The plant does well in outside garden areas too, making it a common choice for decoration and for adding greenery to walls and fences. Cared for properly, it can quickly provide coverage for bare table tops indoors or fences outside.
The dangers to pets presented by the cordatum must not be overlooked. If you have a pet who loves to dig in the garden area of your home or who tends to satisfy his curiosity for exploring while you are not in the house, poisoning of a painful and dangerous sort can result when a pet chews on or ingests the cordatum plant. Burning of the lips, tongue and mouth are just a few of the indications of cordatum poisoning. There can be irritation to the skin and eyes if exposure to the calcium oxalate crystals results in contact with these areas.
The cordatum plant is one of the many varieties of house and garden plants that contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals, which are needle-like, and will project into the soft tissues of the mouth, lips, tongue and gastrointestinal tract when chewed or swallowed. A visit to the veterinarian will be necessary if your pet pushes past the pain upon biting and ingests the plant.
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Symptoms of Cordatum Poisoning in Dogs
Most often, one bite of the cordatum is enough to hinder further ingestion. The pain from the calcium oxalate crystals is very quickly felt, preventing most canines from further exploration. Some pets will continue to bite on the plant and may even swallow enough of the cordatum to cause pain and burning down the throat and into the stomach.
- There may be swelling of the lips and tongue
- The swelling of the tongue can become so intense that breathing becomes difficult
- The mouth, lips, tongue, and throat can burn and feel numb
- If your pet ingests the plant, the burning sensation will include the esophagus and stomach
- Your dog may drool
- There may be diarrhea
- Abdominal pain could be evident
- If the exposure is not limited to the oral cavities, the eyes and skin may be red and irritated
The cordatum plant is also known as a fiddle leaf philodendron. Other names are:
- Red princess
- Red emerald
- Saddle leaf
- Split leaf philodendron
- Horsehead philodendron
- Heartleaf philodendron
- Panda plant
Causes of Cordatum Poisoning in Dogs
The ingestion of the cordatum can cause great distress for your pet due to the sharp, piercing calcium oxalate crystals.
- The crystals are needle-like and can cause immediate pain
- The intense pain can lead to extreme distress for your dog
- The crystals release histamines that promote swelling
- Swelling can lead to breathing limitations
- There are unidentified proteins within the cordatum suspected to add to the toxicity
Diagnosis of Cordatum Poisoning in Dogs
Diagnosing the poisoning by cordatum plant will be straightforward if you witnessed your canine companion sampling the plant, whether indoors or out. If you did see the event, bring along a sample of the plant to show the veterinarian. Looking at the damage to the plant itself will also help you to estimate the amount possibly eaten by your dog. The time frame between the event and the veterinarian seeing your dog is a good point to note because the clinical team will be able to ascertain the toxic effects on your pet and get an idea of the severity.
If you did not have time at home to offer cool water or ice chips to your pet after the ingestion, your veterinarian may do so along with a rinsing of the mouth, in an attempt to remove the crystals and diminish some of the pain in order to continue the physical examination and relevant testing.
The veterinarian will take vital signs such as pulse and heart rate. She may order blood tests to verify organ function and to get a view of how the toxicity has affected your pet’s general state of health by looking at enzymes and electrolytes. She will also look inside the mouth to check for swelling of the tongue and possible airway obstruction. A palpation of the abdomen will reveal if your dog is experiencing abdominal discomfort.
Treatment of Cordatum Poisoning in Dogs
The treatment procedure will depend on your dog’s condition and whether he ate sections of the cordatum plant or was warned off after a few painful bites. If your dog is vomiting extensively, the veterinarian may begin intravenous therapy to prevent dehydration. This therapy will be useful if additional medications are needed, like antihistamines, pain relievers, or gastroprotectants in the event of an ingestion. The intravenous will also aid in the flushing out of the kidneys and will ensure that the organs are functioning well and the urine output is normal.
If your pet has eaten the plant but is not yet vomiting, emesis may be induced in order to remove the plant sections from the stomach. Fortunately, most cases of cordatum poisoning in dogs involve the mouth, lips, and tongue only. Ingestion is not common due to the immediate pain upon biting the plant. However, chewing of the plant can mean tongue swelling and if this is the case, the veterinarian will want to monitor your pet until the swelling has receded before releasing your dog from the hospital.
Recovery of Cordatum Poisoning in Dogs
Once your pet is home, you will need to monitor him and report to the clinic any concerns you have about the recovery process. Cordatum poisoning can be serious and even though your pet may not have needed a long hospital stay, he may be stressed about the event nonetheless and will need a quiet place to rest as his health improves. In the meantime, make sure that all household plants are not within reach of pets and children. When members of your family, whether human or animal, are in the yard or garden areas, watch them carefully around plant life. Removing access to the garden should be considered, and always research the toxicity dangers of new plants that you plan to purchase.