What is Cutleaf Philodendron Poisoning?
The cutleaf philodendron is the only plant in the philodendron family that has edible fruits, however, if the fruit is not ripe or if the outside is not removed, it can be quite painful to eat. The scientific name for cutleaf philodendron is monstera deliciosa because it is a large plant that has delicious fruit, but only safe to eat when ripe. This giant is part of a huge family of plants that contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause pain and swelling of the mouth and throat of dogs who decide to chew on them.
Cutleaf philodendron poisoning in dogs is caused by the consumption of any portion of the plant or its unripe fruit. Although the fruit is okay for you to eat, this is dangerous for dogs since they have to be peeled and are only safe after they are ripe. The scales on the fruit and the vines contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals, which cause intense burning of the throat, mouth, and stomach if eaten. Biting into a plant or the unripe fruit causes immediate pain and foaming at the mouth. Your dog may also have trouble swallowing and will often vomit and paw at its mouth and face.
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Symptoms of Cutleaf Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
There is usually an immediate reaction to the pain of biting into a cutleaf philodendron or its unripe fruits that keeps most dogs from eating a large enough amount to cause esophagus, throat, or stomach pain and swelling. Some dogs do not feel the pain and irritation until after eating a larger amount of the plant and can show more serious results later from the irritation and swelling of the airway. In rare cases, this can cause symptoms similar to anaphylactic shock.
- Oral irritation
- Drooling more than usual
- Burning sensation of the lips, tongue, and mouth
- Foaming from the nose and mouth
- Trouble swallowing
- Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, and mouth
- Swelling of the airway
- Breathing trouble
The scientific name for the cutleaf philodendron is monstera deliciosa and it is from the Araceae family. Some other names it is known by are:
- Fruit salad plant
- Fruit salad tree
- Hurricane plant
- Locust and wild honey
- Mexican breadfruit
- Monster fruit
- Monsterio delicio
- Penglai banana
- Split leaf philodendron
- Swiss cheese plant
Causes of Cutleaf Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
The toxic principles in the cutleaf philodendron and its unripe fruit are insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. These are like tiny needles that stick in your dog’s lips, tongue, mouth, throat, and stomach which can cause severe pain and swelling. In some cases, dogs have been known to consume a large enough amount to cause airway swelling, which may make it hard or even impossible for your dog to breathe.
Diagnosis of Cutleaf Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
The symptoms should show up instantly, but even if there are no symptoms, you should bring your dog to see a veterinary professional right away. Try to bring a part of the plant or a photograph of it so you can show the veterinary staff. The veterinarian will examine your dog while you give the details of your dog’s uncomfortable snacking episode and share your pet’s health history and vaccination records if you have them. The physical will include an oral examination and the veterinarian may need to sedate your dog to use an endoscope to get a better look into the throat and airway. Blood pressure, body temperature, breath sounds, pulse rate, weight, and general physical condition of your pet’s coat and skin will be included as well.
In addition, she will want to do some laboratory tests that will include a complete blood count, serum chemistry profile, urinalysis, fecal examination, and an arterial blood gas (ABG) to check the pH, carbon dioxide, and oxygen levels. This helps the veterinarian know how well your pet is breathing and if the lungs are functioning like they should. Abdominal and chest x-rays will be taken so the veterinarian can get a better view of your dog’s throat and lungs as well as a good look at the stomach to see if there is any inflammation in that area.
Treatment of Cutleaf Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
As always, treatment will depend on the test results and how well your dog is feeling at this point. If the veterinarian has taken a good look and does not see any swelling or damage to the throat and stomach, she may just rinse away the plant residue and send you home. However, if there is swelling present or if the veterinarian sees any plant particles in your dog’s system, a bit more will need to be done to be sure your dog is okay.
Intravenous (IV) fluids will flush the plant residue and particles through your dog’s system to ensure that there will be no further swelling or irritation. This will also prevent dehydration if your dog has been vomiting or had diarrhea. In addition, your dog may not feel like eating after such a painful meal, so the veterinarian may add some nutrients to the fluids to help maintain energy and vitamins and aid in the healing process.
Your veterinarian may want to keep your dog for a few hours or overnight for observation if there was any serious swelling or if there is still plant remains in your pet’s stomach. This is to make sure there are no ill effects while the remains are passing through your dog’s system.
Recovery of Cutleaf Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
Your dog should be fine once you are allowed to go home, but you may notice an appetite loss for a day or two. The veterinarian will recommend a mild diet to try if this happens. Give your pet plenty of fresh water and be sure to call the veterinarian if there are any problems.