What is Elaine Poisoning?
The Agapanthus africanus, also known as the Elaine plant, the African lily, or the lily of the Nile, is a South African evergreen with bunches of bell-shaped flowers in blues, purples, and whites clustered at the top of a tall stem. All parts of this plant may cause irritation of the mouth and throat area when chewed and the sap is known to produce irritation, rashes, and even ulceration of any skin exposed to it. Swallowing the plant can also cause your dog to have minor gastrointestinal distress, such as nausea or vomiting.
The Agapanthus africanus, also known as the Elaine plant, is a mild toxin, causing skin eruptions, discomfort in the mouth and throat, and gastrointestinal distress.
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Symptoms of Elaine Poisoning in Dogs
Although the Elaine plant (Agapanthus africanus) is not fatally toxic, it can cause distress and pain when the sap comes into contact with the skin or mucus membranes, and gastrointestinal irritation when swallowed. The symptoms of exposure to the irritant can include:
- Painful blisters or ulcers
Simple dermal exposure is generally short lived. In the event that vomiting becomes excessive, lasts longer than 24 hours, or if you are unsure of what toxin or plant your pet was exposed to, contact your veterinarian.
Agapanthus africanus can be a difficult plant to grown and its cousin, Agapanthus praecox, is an easier plant to cultivate. Because of this, and the similarity in the appearance of the two plants, Agapanthus Praecox is sometimes sold as Agapanthus africanus. Both varieties cause the same irritation to the skin and mucus membranes when exposed to the sap. One variety, Agapanthus praecox orientalis, is known to have insoluble calcium oxalate crystals in the sap as well. The addition of the calcium oxalate crystals may cause additional swelling in the mouth and throat area as the crystals embed themselves into the soft tissue of the mouth and throat.
Causes of Elaine Poisoning in Dogs
There are some things to keep in mind about the Agapanthus family of plants. In addition to the aggravating nature of the sap of the Elaine plant, it is also an attractant to many varieties of bird and insects. Bees and hornets can cause unpleasant stings or bites, and some insects that are attracted to the flowers, such as the monarch butterfly, can prove to be toxic on their own. It also means that it is more likely for many gardeners to introduce pesticides to the plants, which may also contribute to the problem. Agapanthus africanus is also prone to developing the Botrytis fungus. If your canine ingests any of this gray mold, it may cause gastrointestinal disturbances beyond the upset presented from ingesting the plant alone.
Diagnosis of Elaine Poisoning in Dogs
Plant identification is often all that is required for diagnosing the origin of your pet’s distress if the consumption of the plant is witnessed. If ingestion of the plant material was unwitnessed and unknown, the symptoms may prompt your veterinarian to recommend a visit to the office. Your veterinarian will want to take special note of any chances for opportunistic eating in addition to any concurrent prescriptions or supplements that your dog is taking. A complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis are likely to be done at this time as well in order to attempt to identify the specific toxin that has been introduced, as well as to point out any concurrent disorders or diseases. If your dog has ingested enough of the plant material that vomiting is occurring, then the vomitus will also be examined and tested for toxins. Plant material found in the vomit may help confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment of Elaine Poisoning in Dogs
Preliminary treatment will open with a thorough rinsing of the mouth and affected areas using clean water to remove as much of the irritating sap as possible. You may want to offer your dog something cool to eat or drink to ease the pain and itching until you are able to contact your veterinarian. This may also calm some of the swelling that may occur. In certain circumstances, your veterinarian may recommend an appropriate antihistamine or pain relief medication to administer to your dog as well to control both the discomfort and any additional inflammation or swelling. A bath with added oatmeal or baking soda is often recommended to help ease the discomfort from a dermal reaction. In the unlikely event that excessive vomiting or diarrhea are instigated by this plant, your veterinarian may recommend a visit to the office to provide supportive measures. In this event, IV fluids will be most likely be provided at the veterinarian’s office to prevent dehydration and if an antihistamine was not previously administered it may be administered at this time as an intramuscular injection. Gastroprotective medications may also be recommended to prevent damage to the lining of the stomach.
Recovery of Elaine Poisoning in Dogs
The prognosis for a canine who has consumed any part if the Agapanthus africanus, also known as the Elaine plant, the African lily, or the lily of the Nile, is usually quite good. If you have a dog who likes to sample plants, keep all house plants in areas he cannot access and monitor him carefully when he is in the backyard or garden area of the home.