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English holly belongs to the Ilex genus, and is found in many subtropical and temperate regions all over the world. Many people use English holly as a decorative plant outdoors or indoors as a potted plant, namely during the winter season and Christmas. English holly is a very popular plant due to the fact that it is very beautiful with dark green and glossy leaves and red berries. Holly plants are often used as ornamental plants, especially around Christmas time.
It is a member of the family Aquifoliaceae, which has over 400 species of berried plants, either black or red. The leaves may be clustered or alone and this plant comes in the male and female varieties. English holly may grow to nearly 50 feet tall and is slightly taller than the American holly. The prickly leaves serve as a natural defense to thwart away animals if they begin to eat it; this plant is toxic to dogs and other small animals.
English holly poisoning in dogs occurs when dogs consume the English holly leaves or berries which contain a variety of toxins that may have an adverse effect on dogs when ingested.
Symptoms of English holly poisoning in dogs will vary depending on how much of the plant is ingested. Symptoms may include:
English holly has a variety of names since the species is such a large one. Knowing the types of names will help you avoid purchasing this poisonous plant if you have dogs. Types include:
Causes of English holly poisoning in dogs begins with the dog ingesting the leaves or berries of this plant. English holly contains a variety of toxic substances that have various adverse effects on dogs. Specific causes of toxicity include:
If you suspect or are sure of the fact that your dog ingested English holly, even in small amounts, it is important to take him to the veterinarian. More than likely he will be showing signs of distress. If you are able to take the plant to the veterinarian’s office with you, that will help the veterinarian make a diagnosis. Upon calling the veterinarian, he may recommend that you give your dog a hydrogen peroxide solution or other solution to make him vomit to immediately help the dog dispel the toxic substance. He may also ask you to take a sample of the vomit to the office with you.
The veterinarian will ask you about the amount of plant that was ingested, when the symptoms began, and how long they have been affecting your dog. He will run a battery of tests, including blood work, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis. This will ensure that there are no other issues in addition to the toxicity of the chemicals of the holly plant. The veterinarian may also examine your dog’s vomit or fecal matter to come to the conclusion of English holly poisoning.
The veterinarian may also take a closer look at your dog’s mouth area and may perform a thorough rinse of the mouth and face if necessary. He may also choose to perform an endoscopy if your dog has ingested a great deal of this plant to check for any lesions or irritations within the stomach area.
Treatment methods of English holly poisoning are symptomatic, depending on how much your dog ingested. He may have only taken one bite and then quickly stopped due to the prickly leaves, or may have ingested a few berries. Treatment methods may include:
Your veterinarian may choose to induce vomiting to help your dog release the toxins from his system. This will be followed up with a dosage or two of activated charcoal to further absorb the toxins and prevent them from further injuring his system.
IV fluids will help your dog restore electrolytes, prevent dehydration in his system, and encourage proper kidney function and urination. Urinating will help your dog cleanse his system from the toxic substances of the English holly.
If your dog has a moderate to severe case of English holly toxicity, your veterinarian may choose to keep him overnight to monitor his system. The veterinarian will monitor his blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, and electrolyte amounts. Supportive therapy is symptomatic and depends on your dog’s condition and level of toxicity.
English holly poisoning is usually mild and at times can be moderate. Treatment usually consists of a visit to the veterinarian’s office and then back home for aftercare by you. Once your dog is able to come home, your veterinarian will let you know of anything to watch for in terms of new symptoms. He may suggest a bland diet or offer a prescription diet for your dog, especially if he has had a great amount of vomiting and diarrhea.
The veterinarian will want you to monitor his drinking of fresh water throughout the day and night and will tell you what else you need to watch for in terms of diet. Rest will be very important, and avoiding romping and outdoor play will be very important for at least a few days while he recovers.
The medical professional will want to see your dog for follow-up visits to be sure he is recovering properly. Be sure to keep all of your appointments, even if you think your dog is just fine.
If you have any holly or other toxic plants around your house or on your property, be sure to have them removed or carefully monitor your dog at all times when he is indoors and outdoors as well.
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