What is Flamingo Plant Poisoning?
The flamingo plant exists within the species of Anthurium scherzerianum, and within the genus Anthurium. The reason for its name is the fact that the waxy leaves are shades of salmon and pink, similar to the color of a flamingo. It often extends out from the stem in a curved manner, often resembling the neck of a flamingo as well. Due to the beautiful coloring, it is quite a popular houseplant, and thrives quite well in low-light settings. It is natural habitat is Costa Rica in the high elevations, as well as in the rain forests of Cordillera.
This gorgeous perennial is used in gardens and for a variety of decor, both indoors and outdoors. However, it is extremely toxic to dogs when ingested. This Anthurium contains insoluble calcium oxalate crystals that are extremely intense and painful when bitten into and swallowed. The insoluble calcium oxalate crystals work as a natural defense mechanism for the plant, and if the dog begins to chew on the plant, he will more than likely stop immediately. If he continues to eat the plant, despite the pain, he will need to see a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Flamingo plant poisoning in dogs occurs when dogs ingest any part of the flamingo plant. This plant contains a natural toxin known as insoluble calcium oxalate and is very poisonous to dogs.
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Symptoms of Flamingo Plant Poisoning in Dogs
Symptoms of poisoning from the flamingo plant can occur quite suddenly. The intensity of the symptoms depends on the amount of the plant chewed and swallowed. Symptoms can include:
- Pawing at the mouth
- Pawing at the face
- Swelling of the oral area
- Irritation of the mouth and tongue
- Difficulty breathing
- Obstruction of the airway
- Difficulty or inability to swallow
The flamingo plant of the species Anthurium has a variety of names. These are important to know if you have decided to decorate your home with this plant, but is called another name. Other names for this plant include:
- Flamingo Flower
- Tail Flower
- Oilcloth Flower
- Flamingo Lily
Causes of Flamingo Plant Poisoning in Dogs
The flamingo plant contains insoluble calcium oxalate crystals which begin to cause damage to the dog as soon as he bites into a leaf. Causes of toxicity are:
- The calcium salt will cause numbness and irritation
- Any tissues that come into contact will become extremely irritated
- The crystals inject themselves into soft-tissue
- These raphides release irritating histamines that can cause swelling and allergic reactions
Diagnosis of Flamingo Plant Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog has eaten the flamingo plant, call your veterinarian as soon as possible. Even though the dog may have only taken one bite and suffered few symptoms, it is still important to take him in to get him checked, as he could have swallowed the calcium oxalate crystals.
If your dog has ingested this plant, he may vomit on his own. This is a common symptom, and if it does occur the veterinarian may want to test its contents just to be sure that his symptoms are coming from this type of plant toxicity.
The veterinarian will do a complete physical exam of your dog which includes bloodwork, urinalysis, and biochemistry profile. These tests will allow the veterinarian to determine organ functionality, elevated levels of potassium, phosphorus, creatinine, and any enzymes. The urinalysis may show elevated amounts of glucose, any damage to the kidneys, casts within the urine, and higher protein amounts. All of this data will allow the veterinarian to come to a definitive diagnosis.
Treatment of Flamingo Plant Poisoning in Dogs
If the dog came into contact with the flamingo plant and suffered from particles around his mouth, within his mouth, or in his nasal area, the veterinarian will flush out the toxins by rinsing repeatedly.
IV fluids are important in treating flamingo plant toxicity because they keep the dog hydrated, help maintain a consistent temperature, and allow the kidneys to flush out the contents through assisting the dog and urination.
If the dog has not already vomited on his own, the veterinarian will induce vomiting in order to help remove the contents of his stomach. This is followed by administration of activated charcoal which will soak up any remaining stomach contents and prevent it from being further absorbed into the dog’s system.
If the dog consumed a large amount of the flamingo plant, the veterinarian will prescribe the dog medications as needed. One such medication may be an antihistamine if he is suffering from the side effects of the raphides.
The physician will continue to monitor liver and kidney function and may administer oxygen therapy if your pet is having trouble breathing due to an inflammation caused by the insoluble calcium oxalate crystals.
Recovery of Flamingo Plant Poisoning in Dogs
Ingesting the flamingo plant can be very serious. In many cases, dogs do not consume much of the plant because of the natural protection that the plant provides. In cases of severe toxicity, the veterinarian will want to keep the dog hospitalized until he becomes stable. In cases of mild toxicity, the veterinarian will make a decision how long to keep your pet in the clinic in order to monitor his system.
When you bring your dog home, the veterinarian will give specific instructions on how to care for him. It will be very important to monitor him closely and to watch for any new symptoms; if new symptoms develop it is important to contact the veterinarian immediately. The physician will also want to see him for follow-up visits to be sure he is recovering properly.