What is Corydalis Poisoning?
Corydalis are a diverse group of flowering plants that are found all over the world with the highest concentration of species in China. The most common type is yellow corydalis, previously Corydalis lutea but now classified into a separate genus, pseudofumaria. It is native to Europe but grows in a number of climate zones found in the United States, both wild and in gardens. It is easy to grow and produces bright yellow flowers. Several other species of corydalis, from China and elsewhere, have also been adapted for garden use, so corydalis plants in your garden could produce pink, blue, or white flowers as well. Corydalis species are usually considered part of the poppy family, Papaveraceae, although some classifications put them in the Fumariaceae (bleeding heart) family.
Historically, they have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of headache, backache, and other types of pain, and recent scientific studies show that alkaloid compounds in corydalis could be adapted for more traditional analgesics that treat long term pain. However, in high doses, these alkaloids have the potential to be toxic for dogs as well as humans and other animals. There aren’t a lot of records of dogs suffering from corydalis poisoning, but corydalis in pastures has been known to cause fatal toxicity among livestock. Symptoms can range from mouth sores and gingivitis, to tremors, convulsions and sudden death. Since your dog is not a grazing animal, it’s unlikely he would ingest enough corydalis to cause significant symptoms. However, this is still a plant that should be treated with caution around dogs. Finding a number of chewed off corydalis plants in your garden would be a cause for concern. Owners taking herbal supplements that contain corydalis should also be careful to keep these products away from dogs.
Corydalis are a group of flowering plants that can be toxic for dogs and other animals in large doses. They are grown in gardens and some species are also found wild in many parts of North America. Severe toxicity has only been documented in livestock, but dog owners should be concerned if a large amount of Corydalis is ingested.
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Symptoms of Corydalis Poisoning in Dogs
These are the symptoms of corydalis toxicity, though they are not well documented in dogs.
- Mouth sores
- Twitches, spasms or convulsions
These are some of the corydalis species you might find in your garden, or growing wild in the fields.
- Pseudofumaria lutea or Corydalis lutea – Yellow corydalis, rock fumewort, yellow fumitory, hollowort, and yellow larkspur (the most common type of garden corydalis that produces yellow flowers)
- Corydalis scouleri – Scouler’s fumewort (hot pink flowers, native to Washington and British Columbia but also grown in gardens)
- Corydalis flexuosa – Blue corydalis, pere David, purple leaf, blue panda, and china blue, which are blue tubular flowers, native to China but also grown frequently in gardens
- Corydalis aurea – Scrambled eggs are a biennial that produces small flowers in spring of the second year
- Corydalis ochroleuca – Bluish green leaves and cream colored flower
- Corydalis cheilanthifolia – Fern like leaves and yellow flowers that cluster together
- Corydalis caseana or Capnoides caseana – Fitweed is native to the Sierra Nevada, this species has caused the most problem in livestock
Causes of Corydalis Poisoning in Dogs
These are some risk factors that could make corydalis poisoning more of a problem for your dog.
- Corydalis growing in your garden could present a hazard
- Dogs that like to eat large amounts of greenery may ingest enough to cause toxic effects
- Herbal supplements containing corydalis could be consumed by your pet if left within their reach
- Large patches of corydalis species growing wild in your area
Diagnosis of Corydalis Poisoning in Dogs
Corydalis poisoning is usually diagnosed based on a history of ingestion and symptoms of toxicity. If your dog ingests corydalis from the garden, it’s a good idea to call the vet even if he isn’t showing symptoms. A poison helpline can also be helpful if the veterinarian isn’t immediately available. Be prepared to describe the plant with the common and species name if possible (some species may be more toxic than others), as well as your dog’s breed and weight and an estimate for the amount you think was ingested. Corydalis poisoning acts quickly in livestock, so if your dog starts to show symptoms of tremors and convulsions, it should be treated as an emergency.
If the veterinarian wants to see your dog in person, bring a sample of the plant for identification. Dogs displaying unusual symptoms after ingesting a potentially toxic plant should always be evaluated. The veterinarian will physically examine your dog to analyze symptoms of muscular weakness or poor coordination. Blood and urine testing can help to determine the level of toxicity. The veterinarian may also analyze a sample of your dog’s stomach contents. If you’re not sure what caused the symptoms, the veterinarian will try to eliminate infection and other types of toxicity as a potential cause.
Treatment of Corydalis Poisoning in Dogs
If ingestion was recent the veterinarian may try to induce vomiting. Activated charcoal is also given to reduce absorption in the gastrointestinal tract and cathartic medication can help move the toxins through the system faster. Other treatments will be based on symptoms. Medication could be prescribed to control muscle tremors and seizures if these are present as well as to reduce irritation in the gastrointestinal tract.
Recovery of Corydalis Poisoning in Dogs
Serious corydalis poisoning is rare in dogs and most dogs will easily recover from ingesting a small amount. If you have unusual species of corydalis in your garden, you should discuss this with the veterinarian as some species may be more toxic than others. To help manage the problem, plant safe grasses around your house and encourage your dog to chew on them. Most dogs like to eat a small amount of plant material. If this need is met with a non-toxic plant, they will be less likely to turn to other more dangerous sources.