What is Dahlia Poisoning?
There are many types of dahlias in any color, from the miniature (two inches) to the giant (12 inches), and come in many shapes, such as round, ball, cone, and flat. These beautiful perennials are related to daisies and asters, and they are all so different it is hard to find two that are alike. However, they all come with an unpleasant side effect if your dog has contact with or eats one of these flowers. There is a toxic substance in the dahlia that causes skin irritation and gastrointestinal upset to dogs. In fact, they have phototoxic polyacetylene substances that may trigger skin irritation to people who have contact with the dahlia and the tubers (roots) when exposed to sunlight. It is still unclear whether it is these phototoxic polyacetylene substances are what cause the toxicity in dogs.
Dahlia poisoning is a mild condition characterized by gastrointestinal distress if eaten, and dermatitis with skin contact. The dahlia is a popular garden plant and often sold as bouquets or cut flowers for indoor decoration. The toxic principles in the dahlia are not known at this time, but whether the flower, leaves, or root is handled or eaten, it can cause stomach upset and skin inflammation with itching.
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Symptoms of Dahlia Poisoning in Dogs
- Mild dermatitis
- Painful red patches
- Mild gastrointestinal irritation
- Abdominal pain
Dahlia (dahlia pinnata) is part of the Asteraceae family in the order of asterales and genus dahlia. There are more than 35 species of dahlia in every color imaginable and they come in all sizes and shapes. Some common names are:
- Distrito Federal
Causes of Dahlia Poisoning in Dogs
The toxic substance in the dahlia is unknown at this time, but the cause of dahlia poisoning is consumption of or exposure to the flower, roots, or leaves. Gastrointestinal irritation (most often of a mild form), and epidermis irritation are caused by exposure to the plant.
Diagnosis of Dahlia Poisoning in Dogs
When you arrive at the veterinarian clinic, provide the veterinary team with as much information as possible about the exposure to the dahlia, such as how much was consumed and how long ago the incident took place. The team will assist the veterinarian as a physical examination is done. Your pet’s heart rate, pulse, and reflexes will be checked. If he is vomiting, the vomitus may be examined for particles of the plant.
Standard testing in any medical situation often includes complete blood count, serum chemistry, urinalysis, and fecal sample. These tests are used to evaluate the condition of your dog, and to rule out if there are any underlying illnesses that could complicate the toxicity, no matter how mild. The team will take a close look at your dog’s fur and skin to see if the dermal exposure has left any effects that will need to be addressed.
Treatment of Dahlia Poisoning in Dogs
Your dog’s treatment plan will depend on how much was consumed and what the test results show. Most often, triggering emesis (vomiting) with a hydrogen peroxide solution is done to get rid of as much of the plant as possible. Activated charcoal will be given to soak up the toxins, and a gastric lavage will rid the body of whatever remains. Intravenous fluids will be given to flush the kidneys and prevent dehydration caused by vomiting and diarrhea. If your dog has any skin irritation, the veterinarian will prescribe a topical ointment to relieve the inflammation, pain, and itching.
Recovery of Dahlia Poisoning in Dogs
As long as you got professional help for your dog, dahlia poisoning is usually cleared up without complications within 24 hours. The skin irritation may continue for several weeks, but the medication should help and you should call your veterinarian if you have any concerns or questions. Depending on the amount of dahlias your dog consumed, the chance of recovery is good as long as there are no underlying complications or infection. To prevent this from happening again, remove the dahlia plants and any other toxic plants from the areas that your dog is able to reach. Return for a follow up appointment as needed and call if there are any questions as your dog recovers.