What is Dragon Tree Poisoning?
The dragon tree is a popular plant found indoors due to its many favorable qualities as a house plant. This plant grows tall but stays slender, it is able to support itself so you don’t have to worry about propping it up as it grows, is an ever-green so it stays vibrant year round, and it is one of the easiest plants to look after and keep alive. This plant is slow growing and cleans the air in your home, which are two more reasons many people have the dragon tree in their houses. Ingestion of the dragon tree can cause toxic symptoms in your canine family member such as stomach irritation and oral pain. Depending on the severity of the poisoning, your pet may need to be hospitalized, but with prompt care the prognosis for recovery is good.
The dragon tree is a plant commonly found in homes, offices, malls, and other indoor facilities due to the hardiness of the plant and the fact that it does not need much upkeep. Most people do not realize this plant is toxic to their dog if consumed. If you believe your dog ingested this plant, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.
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Symptoms of Dragon Tree Poisoning in Dogs
The symptoms of toxicity will depend on how much of the dragon tree plant your dog consumed. Symptoms will include:
- Intestinal irritation
- Stomach irritation
- Loss of appetite
- Oral pain
- Facial swelling
- Pawing at the mouth
Rapidity of onset of symptoms of toxicity will depend on how much your dog ingested. If you know or even suspect your dog chewed on or consumed this plant, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.
The dragon tree plant is part of the Agavaceae family. This plant goes by many other common names such as Madagascar dragon tree, money tree, corn plant, and dracaena marginata. There are many different species, all varying slightly in appearance, but all equally toxic.
Causes of Dragon Tree Poisoning in Dogs
The Agavaceae family is known for having toxins containing steroidal saponins. This toxin can cause irritation when chewed or ingested. Also, it has a foaming characteristic which causes gastrointestinal upset as well as lack of appetite. The entire plant is toxic to your pet, so no matter if he chewed on a leaf or branch, he may suffer the effects of the toxin.
Diagnosis of Dragon Tree Poisoning in Dogs
When you arrive at your veterinarian’s office, she will begin the diagnostic process by performing a physical examination. This will allow proper assessment of your dog’s vital signs and any symptoms he may be showing. Blood work might include a complete blood count (CBC), chemistry panel, and a packed cell volume (PCV). These tests will inform the doctor how your dog’s internal organs are functioning and if he is dehydrated. A urinalysis may be performed as another assessment of the kidneys.
If you know for a fact or even suspect your dog ingested this plant, take a part of it with you to the veterinary clinic so the team knows exactly what they are dealing with. This will provide the veterinarian with helpful information and will result in a quicker diagnosis of the toxicity.
Treatment of Dragon Tree Poisoning in Dogs
Treatment for your dog will depend on the symptoms he is exhibiting. Your dog will likely be put on intravenous fluids as soon as he arrives; this will allow the body to flush out the toxin more quickly. Also, if your dog is suffering from vomiting and diarrhea, the fluids will correct and treat any dehydration he may be experiencing. Additional supportive therapies will be given to your dog on an as needed basis. Pain medications may be given for the facial discomfort, if your dog is suffering from weakness and ataxia, keeping him calm and quiet will help this as well.
Recovery of Dragon Tree Poisoning in Dogs
Toxicity from the dragon tree may be considered mild to moderate. There are many factors to consider when discussing recovery. Factors like your dog’s health prior to the toxicity, how much your pet ingested, and how quickly he received medical attention will all play a part. In most cases, there is a high chance of recovery. Your dog may need to stay in the hospital until all symptoms have subsided and all laboratory work is normal.
If you do have this plant inside your home, keep it out of the reach of your dog. This means keeping it at a height he cannot reach when standing on his hind legs, or if a leaf wilts and falls off the plant, it won’t fall into an area your pet can reach. You may be wise to keep it in a room he is not allowed in. If this plant is outside, keep it in an area your dog does not have access to, or watch him very closely when he is around it. Many dogs like to eat grass; cultivating an area of dog safe grasses in your backyard space may be a good choice.