What is Fiddle-leaf Philodendron Poisoning?
The fiddle-leaf philodendron is a popular houseplant, as it is easy to maintain and beautiful to many. This philodendron is characterized by medium -sized green leaves with one leaf being longer than the other two, fuzzy stems with a reddish tint, and the ability to grow to 6 feet and sometimes higher. The fact that it only requires medium indirect lighting makes it a popular choice for a houseplant.
The fiddle-leaf philodendron, with its lush green elongated leaves, is toxic to dogs. The leaves contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals, and when the plant is chewed upon, these crystals (raphides) inject into the dog’s soft-tissue of the mouth and possibly, if swallowed, the gastrointestinal tract. All of the types of philodendrons are poisonous to dogs and it is highly recommended they are not displayed in homes or outdoor gardens that have pets such as dogs and cats.
Fiddle-Leaf philodendron poisoning in dogs is the result of dogs consuming all or part of this type of philodendron. The toxic substance in philodendron is insoluble calcium oxalate and is a natural defense to protect the plant from herbivores.
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Symptoms of Fiddle-leaf Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog has eaten a leaf of the fiddle-leaf philodendron, he may stop at one considering the pain in which the shard-like crystals induce just after one bite or chew. However, the dog may continue to eat it, and if he does he may begin to suffer from a variety of symptoms such as:
- Mouth foaming
- Pawing at the face
- Showing signs of distress
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of the oral cavity
- Swelling of the tongue and lips
The fiddle-leaf philodendron may be within your home without you realizing it, since it comes in a variety of different names. Alternate names for the fiddle-leaf philodendron are: Philodendron
- Panda plant
- Heartleaf philodendron
- Split-leaf philodendron
- Fruit salad plant
- Red princess
- Red emerald
- Saddle leaf philodendron
Causes of Fiddle-leaf Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
Causes of fiddle-leaf philodendron poisoning come from the dog consuming part or all of the plant. From the moment a leaf is bitten into, the plant goes into a natural defense mode. Specific causes of poisoning are:
- Calcium oxalate crystals (raphides) injecting into the soft tissue of the dog
- Calcium oxalate crystals releasing histamines
- The toxic, needle-sharp, raphides causing intense irritation
Diagnosis of Fiddle-leaf Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
If you know or suspect your dog has eaten fiddle-leaf philodendron, he may begin to show symptoms immediately. It is imperative to get to the veterinarian as soon as possible so he can receive quick treatment.
Once at the veterinarian, the physician will ask you questions pertaining to the amount ingested and the time frame between eating the leaf or leaves to the visit. The veterinarian will begin with cleaning or rinsing out the mouth, as many dogs that ingest the poison from the leaves will have distress in the mouth area.
The veterinarian will take bloodwork, urinalysis, and biochemistry profile to check the organ function in any elevated phosphorus, enzymes, protein levels, and any other abnormalities the dog may have due to the fact that he ingested calcium oxalate crystals. In many situations, since the fiddle-leaf philodendron has an immediate defense mechanism that is quite painful, dogs stop after one bite. If your dog ingested a large quantity of the plant, the veterinarian will perform the tests she feels are necessary to check the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, and liver.
Treatment of Fiddle-leaf Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
In terms of treatment, it is relative to the amount that was ingested by the dog. Some cases only require treatment to the mouth area or the face, if the plant wasn’t ingested. Treatment methods include:
If your dog has not already vomited on his own, the veterinarian will want to induce vomiting to help rid of the stomach contents. After emesis, activated charcoal will be administered to prevent the toxins from being absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract.
IV fluids are given to help maintain a normal temperature, to prevent dehydration or to hydrate a dog that has been dehydrated, and to assist the dog in urination to help flush out the body.
The veterinarian will continue to monitor your dog’s functions, including the liver and the kidneys. He may perform bloodwork or a urinalysis at specific intervals to check for appropriate levels of creatinine, phosphorus, enzymes, protein, and other systematic data.
Oxygen therapy with or without intubation may be required if the dog has had an allergic reaction from the histamines that are released from the calcium oxalate crystals. If your dog is having difficulty breathing due to swelling, or if the veterinarian feels that oxygen therapy will help your dog become stable, oxygen may be given.
Recovery of Fiddle-leaf Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
Poisoning from calcium oxalates can be quite serious. The severity of the poisoning depends on the amount that was eaten and how long of a time span passed before proper treatment. The veterinarian may keep the dog for 1 to 2 days and then choose to send him home when his prognosis looks good.
Once you are home with your dog, it will be important to monitor him and to follow the veterinarian’s instructions on home care. Due to vomiting or possible damage to the gastrointestinal tract, the veterinarian may recommend a very bland diet for him, and the foods which the veterinarian recommends may vary.
The veterinarian will want to see the dog for any follow-up visits to be sure he is recovering properly. In the meantime, if you see any symptoms that alarm you, please contact your veterinarian with any questions. In order to prevent plant poisoning from occurring, check the plants in your home. If you are unaware of the plants’ names or types, you can ask your veterinarian or contact your local ASPCA.
Fiddle-leaf Philodendron Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
I’m pretty sure my 1 yr old basset hound ate some of my fiddle leaf fig about one year ago as it was pretty torn up (I obviously didn’t know the threat of the plant at the time). I don’t recall him showing any symptoms of being ill at that time or after, hence another reason I was unaware of the plants toxicity. Should I be worried he is suffering any issues internally today, as a result of this incident? He hasn’t had blood work or urinalysis at the vet but is an otherwise ostensibly healthy dog.
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My dog chewed a parts of my fiddle leaf fig...I can't be sure if he swallowed it all as there were pieces of the leaves left on the floor but I'm concerned he has swallowed some of The leaf. Should I take him to the vet?
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