What is Dwarf Poinciana Poisoning?
The dwarf poinciana plant is similar to the Brazilwood, but smaller and has orange and red flowers instead of yellow and red. One of this plant’s many nicknames is the peacock plant because of its showy flowers. It is a shrub that can grow to about nine feet tall, making the name dwarf poinciana seem silly. However, some of the other plants in the poinciana family can grow to a height of 15 feet or more. Despite its beauty, this plant is dangerous to have around your pets or children due to the serious side effects from the toxins, one of which was used by Hitler as a gas to execute prisoners in the gas chambers. Needless to say, you should not let your pet get close to one of these dangerous beauties.
The dwarf poinciana can cause serious toxic reactions in your dog such as severe vomiting, confusion, weight loss, and may even be fatal in large doses. These side effects may be mild in some dogs if just a small amount is eaten, but in toy or elderly dogs, even a small dose is dangerous.
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Symptoms of Dwarf Poinciana Poisoning in Dogs
The symptoms of dwarf poinciana toxicity depend on the amount consumed and the size of your dog. Additionally, if your dog’s health is compromised, the side effects may be more serious and even life-threatening. The common signs of dwarf poinciana poisoning are:
- Scratching face and mouth
- Bloody and watery stool
- Excessive drooling
- Swallowing difficulty
- Weight loss
The dwarf poinciana is in the Fabaceae family and is known by several other names such as:
- Barbados pride
- Caesalpinia pulcherrima
- Mexican bird of paradise
- Peacock flower
- Pride of Barbados
Causes of Dwarf Poinciana Poisoning in Dogs
Hydrocyanic acid (HCN) and tannins are two of the poisonous substances in the dwarf poinciana. The seeds, which look like pea pods, contain tannin, which binds to your dog’s proteins and causes loss of weight and malnutrition. The HCN toxin, hydrogen cyanide, is found throughout the plant, including the flowers, foliage, and roots. In the past, this acid was used as a weapon and causes central nervous system irritation and possibly permanent damage.
Diagnosis of Dwarf Poinciana Poisoning in Dogs
It is important you make a trip to see the veterinarian if you think your dog ate part of a dwarf poinciana, whether you have seen any side effects or not. The sooner you can get treatment, the better off your pet will be. Take a sample or a photo of the plant your dog ate so the team can get a better idea of what they are up against. This is important in getting the right treatment plan. Bring your dog’s shot records and medical history as well, and tell them about any medications your pet is on or has recently taken.
Next, your veterinarian will do an examination of your dog’s overall condition and vital signs, including heart rate, respiratory rate, body temperature, blood pressure, weight, and skin/coat condition. Lab tests will be done next, which include a blood chemistry profile, blood cell counts, urinalysis, and fecal examination. Abdominal x-rays and ultrasound will be conducted to view your dog’s liver, intestinal tract, and stomach contents. If necessary, your veterinarian may also do CT scans or an MRI to get a more detailed view.
Treatment of Dwarf Poinciana Poisoning in Dogs
The treatment plan for your dog depends on how much of the dwarf poinciana was consumed, how long ago it happened, and what the test results showed. The usual plan for most poisonings is stabilization, elimination of the toxin, fluid therapy, medication, and observation.
The veterinarian will do whatever is necessary to stabilize your dog’s vital signs first.
To empty your pet’s stomach, a peroxide or ipecac solution will be given by mouth, which should induce vomiting. Activated charcoal will be given next to absorb the toxins left in the stomach and intestinal tract.
An intravenous (IV) line will be started to give fluids in order to flush the kidneys and rid the body of any more toxic substances. The fluids and electrolytes will also prevent dehydration caused by vomiting, diarrhea, and inability to drink water.
Medications given depend on your dog’s condition, but usually include stomach protectants, antiemetics, anti-seizure medication, and antibiotics.
Depending on how your pet reacts to the treatment, the veterinarian may admit your furry friend to the hospital for observation overnight. This gives the veterinary staff the opportunity to provide supportive treatment as needed.
Recovery of Dwarf Poinciana Poisoning in Dogs
Once your dog is able to go home, prepare for this by setting up a quiet place for your pet to sleep away from the household noises and stress. Remove the dwarf poinciana and any other toxic plants from your home and yard. Bring your dog for a follow-up examination as recommended by your veterinarian, and call if there are any questions about your pet's recovery.