What is Fetterbush Poisoning?
Fetterbush is a type of foliage that many people choose to add to their gardens. It is shiny green leaves and varying colors (usually pink) of small flowers make it a very beautiful addition to the landscape. The flowers bloom in March, April, and May. Fetterbush belongs to the family Ericaceae, which has approximately 1500 species. This plant can reach heights anywhere from 2 to 6 feet, depending on the species. Some species reach up to 12 feet in height. The species may vary from plants to foliage to shrubs, and even trees. This plant is popular in many parts of North America. Many homeowners also use this plant to adorn their home, and unfortunately are unaware of its toxic properties to dogs and other small animals.
Although it is easy to maintain and very hardy in many types of weather conditions, it is very poisonous to dogs. Fetterbush contains grayanotoxins, which are highly toxic and can lead to death if not immediately treated. If your dog ingests only a very small amount, his symptoms may not be as severe.
Fetterbush poisoning in dogs is a result of dogs ingesting part or all of the toxic fetterbush plant, which can result in symptoms such as paralysis and collapse. Fetterbush poisoning in dogs can be very serious, so immediate medical attention is necessary.
Book First Walk Free!
Symptoms of Fetterbush Poisoning in Dogs
Symptoms of fetterbush poisoning can be very severe. Symptoms of fetterbush toxicity include:
- Excessive drooling
- Muscle spasms
- Severe lethargy
The fetterbush plant contains grayanotoxins. Other types of plants that contain this highly toxic agent include:
- Rose bay
- Mountain laurel
- Dwarf laurel
- Japanese pieris
- Mountain pieris
- Dog hobble
- Dog laurel
- Black laurel
Causes of Fetterbush Poisoning in Dogs
Causes of fetterbush poisoning in dogs begin with effects to the body as the dog ingests the plant. Specific causes of toxicity to the dogs include:
- Grayanotoxins which bind to the receptors within the sodium channel
- Halting of cell function within the dog
- Cell depolarization
- Increases in calcium influx, thus stimulating acetylcholine
Diagnosis of Fetterbush Poisoning in Dogs
If you suspect your dog has ingested fetterbush, take him to the veterinarian immediately. If it is after hours, immediately take him to an animal hospital that has 24 hour care. If your dog vomits while at home, collect a sample of this vomit and take it with you. When you call your veterinarian or a veterinarian that is on call, he may suggest that you go ahead and induce vomiting immediately.
Once your dog arrives at the veterinarian’s office, he will immediately assess your dog’s symptoms. Taking a sample of the plant with you will help the medical professional come to a definitive diagnosis much quicker. Before any tests are run, the veterinarian may go ahead and induce vomiting if you have not already done so and begin IV fluid therapy once he checks the status of his hydration by performing a packed cell volume test.
The veterinarian may take a fecal sample, blood work for a complete blood count and blood profile, a urinalysis, and biochemistry profile. These tests will allow the veterinarian to see how your companion’s organs are functioning. The veterinarian may also do a radiograph or EKG to test your pet’s cardiac function and to check his skeletal system if paralysis has occurred. A fast diagnosis of fetterbush toxicity will occur while the veterinarian is assessing his symptoms and beginning to treat him.
Treatment of Fetterbush Poisoning in Dogs
Immediate treatment will be necessary for your dog to recover from this poisoning. Treatment methods may include:
If not already done so, the veterinarian will induce vomiting to remove any plant particles from your dog’s stomach. Emesis will be followed up by the administration of activated charcoal to help absorb any other toxins and prevent them from being further absorbed into the bloodstream.
Fluid therapy will aid in hydrating your dog, especially if he has suffered from loss of electrolytes after vomiting and having diarrhea. Fluid therapy will also encourage the kidneys to function and urination to occur.
Your dog may require oxygen therapy to help him breathe more productively and to keep his body stable. Fresh oxygen will also be required if your dog is having cardiac abnormalities and respiratory system abnormalities as well. While your dog is hooked up to oxygen, he may also be attached to a cardiac monitor so the veterinarian can keep a close and watchful eye on his heart readings.
The veterinarian will decide upon the medications to give your dog. The medications given for this type of toxicity will be solely the veterinarian’s decision and be based on your dog’s level of toxicity. Medications may be given to help his heart rate, arrhythmia, his breathing, and organ functions. Dogs that suffer from fetterbush toxicity will be affected in different ways depending on the amount ingested and the time it took to receive treatment.
Recovery of Fetterbush Poisoning in Dogs
Sadly, many dogs do not recover from fetterbush poisoning. If your dog responded to immediate treatment, he may be in the hospital for quite some time. The veterinarian will decide when your dog is stable enough to come home and it will be very important to monitor him closely and watch for any new symptoms that may develop. Your veterinarian will also want to see him again to be sure he is recovering effectively.
Your medical professional may recommend a bland diet for your pet in order for him to recover if he had vomiting or diarrhea so that his stomach and gastrointestinal tract can heal. He may also be on medications that your veterinarian prescribed, and it will be very important to give him the correct and regular dosage. Your physician will give you specific instructions on how to care for your dog at home, and if you have any questions or concerns contact your veterinarian without hesitation.