What is Fiddle Leaf Poisoning?
More than 450 species of philodendron plants and shrubs exist today. These climbing vines and herbs are native to the tropics in the United States and have a lush green hue with accents of red, purple and copper. They are quite stunning in appearance, and their aesthetic qualities make them a popular plant by many home owners.
The fiddle leaf plant has a unique shape to its leaves and many of them are rounded, yet long and slim. The leaves do vary from species to species and this depends on the maturity of the plant as well as the specific type. These climbing plants may also contain small berries which will vary between the species. This species of plant originates in the low levels of many rain forests, and many people enjoy the greenery either outside or inside their homes and offices.
This vine plant will grow higher than 6 feet in many cases and when grown in the wild is considered an epiphyte, or a plant that lives among other plants. However, when grown indoors, such as in pots, many owners choose to keep it trimmed back for aesthetic purposes. Although popular among homeowners, the fiddle leaf plant, also called the fiddle leaf philodendron, is toxic to dogs. This plant contains insoluble calcium oxalates which penetrate into the dog’s mouth tissue immediately when chewed.
Fiddle leaf poisoning in dogs is caused by the ingestion of the fiddle leaf plant, which contains toxic insoluble calcium oxalate crystals as its own natural defense.
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Symptoms of Fiddle Leaf Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog has ingested a leaf of the fiddle leaf, he may stop at once due to the immense pain in which the shard-like crystals induce just after one bite or chew. However, if the dog continues the crystals will enter into his digestive system. Symptoms of fiddle leaf poisoning may include:
- High levels of immediate agitation and pain
- Shaking of the head
- Foaming at the mouth
- Pawing at the face
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of the face area
- Tongue and lips swelling
Many dog owners have this plant within their home without even knowing the toxicity, as the fiddle leaf philodendron has many names. Types of names of this plant are:
- Dieffenbachia cordatum
- Split leaf philodendron
- Fruit salad plant
- Saddle leaf philodendron
- Red princess
- Red emerald
- Panda plant
Causes of Fiddle Leaf Poisoning in Dogs
- Calcium oxalate crystals (raphides) penetrating into the soft tissue of the dog’s mouth
- The release of histamines by the calcium oxalate crystals
- Raphides, or tiny shards of crystals causing a high amount of irritation
Diagnosis of Fiddle Leaf Poisoning in Dogs
If you know have a suspicion that your dog has bitten into a fiddle leaf plant, take him to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Once you are at the veterinarian clinic, the medical professional will ask you questions relating to how much was ingested and the time frame between ingesting or chewing the leaf or leaves to the time of the visit.
The veterinarian will immediately begin rinsing out the mouth, as many dogs that ingest the poison from the leaves will have intense pain and an allergic reaction in the mouth area. The veterinarian will perform blood work, a urinalysis, and a biochemistry profile to determine the organ function and any elevated phosphorus, levels of protein, enzyme levels. She will also check for any other striking abnormalities the dog may be suffering from due to the circumstance of ingesting calcium oxalate crystals, commonly known as raphides. In many situations, since the fiddle leaf has an immediate and natural defense mechanism that is quite painful, dogs usually stop after one bite. If your dog has swallowed delete a large part of the plant, the veterinary doctor will perform the tests she feels are necessary to take a closer look at the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, and liver.
While in the veterinarian’s office, the veterinarian may go ahead and administer oxygen therapy and IV fluid therapy to your dog to get him started on specific stabilization methods as he is being diagnosed. The veterinarian is very familiar with plant poisonings, and will know the actions to take while coming to a definitive diagnosis.
Treatment of Fiddle Leaf Poisoning in Dogs
Treatment methods are dependent upon your dog’s symptoms and the amount that was ingested by your dog. Some cases only require treatment to the mouth area or the face if the plant wasn’t swallowed. Treatment methods may include:
Inducing vomiting may be necessary if your dog has swallowed part of the plant. This will help your dog eliminate the contents of the stomach. The veterinarian will then follow up by administering activated charcoal to prevent further absorption into the bloodstream. Activated charcoal may need to be given more than once.
In order to maintain a normal temperature and to prevent dehydration due to the vomiting or diarrhea your dog may have had, IV fluids may be given. IV fluids are also effective in promoting urination and kidney function.
Monitoring your dog throughout the whole procedure of treatment will be very necessary. The veterinarian may perform various tests again during treatment to see how your dog is reacting to the treatment. The veterinarian will continue to do blood work, check his organ functionality, take his temperature, and any other assessments she feels are necessary.
During the treatment, oxygen therapy will be given to help your dog receive fresh oxygen and to help his breathing remain consistent. Oxygen therapy may be given through intubation if your dog has a swollen esophagus due to the histamines released by the calcium oxalate crystals.
Recovery of Fiddle Leaf Poisoning in Dogs
Although fiddle leaf plant poisoning is quite serious, with immediate treatment your dog may recover; the prognosis is fair when this occurs. Once your veterinarian has cleared your dog to go home with you, it is very important to follow his instructions on how to care for your dog while at home. It will be important to give your pet plenty of time to rest, as he will still be recovering. Avoid rough play and lots of outside time due to the fact that he will still need to take it easy.
Your veterinarian may also recommend a bland diet for your companion as his stomach continues to recover from any vomiting and diarrhea or gastrointestinal distress. She may recommend a prescription diet or give you advice on the type of food to feed him. This diet will only be temporary until he fully recovers.