What is Cyclamen Poisoning?
Cyclamen, also called Persian violet, shooting star, and sowbread, to name a few, can be found in almost all florists, grocers, and retail stores in the wintertime, which makes them popular to add color to your home during the cold months. These plants have dark and light green mixed heart-shaped leaves with serrated edges. The flowers are pink or white and look similar to butterflies. Chewing on the plant itself is usually not as severe as if your dog were to get into the tubers of the plant.
The cyclamen, or cyclamen persicum, contains triterpenoid saponins, which are extremely irritating and can cause serious toxic reactions in dogs. Although these saponins are found in the entire plant and flowers, the highest concentration of toxin is in the tubers (roots), which your dog may dig out of a potted plant or garden. Since these saponins are quickly absorbed into the blood, they are even more dangerous than the usual flower and dogs have easier access to them during the winter months because both the plants and the pets are spending more time inside. When eaten, you may notice your dog drooling more than usual, vomiting, and may even have seizures. You may also see signs of cardiac involvement, which are increased or irregular heartbeat, trouble breathing, collapse, drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea.
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Symptoms of Cyclamen Poisoning in Dogs
The symptoms depend on the method of exposure, and how much your dog consumed. If your dog consumed more than one tuber or plant, it is essential to take him to the veterinarian or animal hospital. Some of the most often symptoms reported are:
- Abdominal pain
- Abnormal heart rate or rhythm
- Anorexia (no appetite)
- Blood in urine
- Bloody diarrhea
- Death from respiratory failure
- Heart rhythm abnormalities
- Mucosal hemorrhage
- Painful liver
- Rough hair coat
- Terminal convulsions
- Ulcerative gastritis
- Weight loss
Causes of Cyclamen Poisoning in Dogs
The cause of cyclamen poisoning is the consumption of any part of the plant, especially the tubers (roots) because they have the most toxic saponins. It is possible for your dog to get access to the cyclamen in several ways, such as:
- Digging up the roots or tubers
- Eating flower, stems, or leaves
- Eating the roots
Diagnosis of Cyclamen Poisoning in Dogs
Try to bring a piece of the plant with you so your veterinarian can find out what plant has been eaten to hasten the diagnosis. The sooner the diagnosis, the faster the treatment can be started. Early treatment is important in cyclamen poisoning because the saponins can be absorbed into the bloodstream faster than other toxins. Your veterinarian will start IV fluids for your dog to stop dehydration from diarrhea and vomiting. If necessary, your dog will get oxygen therapy as well by insertion of a tube through your dog’s nose. Explain to your veterinarian exactly what you know about what happened, how much and what parts of the cyclamen your dog ate, and whether any symptoms have been noticed. Timing is very important so get your veterinarian up to speed as soon as you get there by telling him your dog’s breed, age, previous illnesses or injuries, and strange behavior or appetite.
Next, your veterinarian will do a complete physical examination of your dog including general appearance, weight, heart rate, respirations, reflexes, body temperature, blood pressure, lung sounds, and inspection of the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. Some laboratory tests will be done, including complete blood count (CBC), blood urea nitrogen (BUN) levels, blood gases, biochemistry panel, and electrolyte levels. The veterinarian can also perform an endoscopy by inserting a flexible tube with an attached camera into your dog’s throat to get a good view of the upper respiratory system. Your dog will be anesthetized and have oxygen and intravenous fluids administered during the procedure. Radiographs (x-rays) will also be done to get a good view your dog’s intestinal tract and stomach. Additionally, an ultrasound will be used to check the size of the kidneys and evaluate any damage. In some cases, your veterinarian may use an MRI or CT scan to get a more detailed look of the kidneys or other internal organs.
Treatment of Cyclamen Poisoning in Dogs
Decontamination will be done by inducing your dog to empty his stomach by vomiting (with medication), if necessary. In addition, a charcoal lavage can be used to wash leftover toxins from the digestive system and stomach. The activated charcoal absorbs the toxins so that they do not cause any more damage to your dog’s system. Fluid therapy by IV will probably have already been started if your dog has been vomiting or has diarrhea, and that will be continued for a few hours or overnight, depending on the severity of the symptoms.
Recovery of Cyclamen Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog is treated within the first 24 hours, the prognosis is good. Make sure you get rid of the cyclamen anywhere in your home your dog may be able to get to. If you go to a park or any other public place, be sure to keep your eye on wherever your dog goes in case there are poisonous plants such as cyclamen. If you have any concerns or questions, be sure to call your veterinarian.