What is Garden Calla Poisoning?
The garden calla is a popular ornamental plant in and around homes due to its aesthetically pleasing quality. These plants are commonly found in bouquets and flower arrangements. It is a plant native to tropical regions and does well year round in favorable temperatures. As soon as your dog bites into this plant, he will suffer intense burning of the oral cavity due to the plant’s insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. In most cases, once the crystals have been rinsed from your dog’s mouth, recovery goes well with or without supportive therapies. In more serious toxicity cases, it can lead to breathing difficulties, coma, and even death if veterinary care is not sought out.
The garden calla belongs to the same family as some lily plants. Just like lilies, the garden calla can be toxic to your dog. If you believe your dog ingested a part of this plant, contact your veterinarian.
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Symptoms of Garden Calla Poisoning in Dogs
Symptoms typically develop immediately after your dog bites on the garden calla plant. Symptoms may include:
- Pawing at the mouth
- Oral irritation
- Intense burning of the mouth
- Burning of the tongue
- Burning of the lips
- Calcium oxalate crystalluria
- Difficulty swallowing
- Inflammation of the mouth and/or throat
- Difficulty breathing
The garden calla belongs to the Araceae family with the scientific name of Zantedeschia aethiopica. The garden calla is also commonly known as the calla lily, pig lily, arum lily, trumpet lily, and florist’s calla. These plants are popular garden and house ornamental plants. They have glossy leaves and flowers that can bloom in a variety of colors.
Causes of Garden Calla Poisoning in Dogs
The garden calla possesses insoluable calcium oxalate crystals. The crystal shape of the oxalates and their insolubility cause damage to the mouth. Instead of dissolving when coming into contact with the moisture of the mouth, it cuts the tissue and causes injury. This trait is what causes all of the symptoms related to oral irritation. If any of these crystals do make their way into your dog’s blood stream, it can lead to crystal formation in the urine.
Diagnosis of Garden Calla Poisoning in Dogs
Your dog will receive a physical exam upon arrival. The exam will allow the veterinarian to note any and all symptoms your dog is experiencing. If your dog is drooling excessively or displaying other symptoms of oral pain, she will take special care when inspecting your dog’s mouth if he will allow her. If your dog vomits while at the clinic, the veterinarian will examine the contents for any evidence as to what he ingested.
Blood work will be performed to give the veterinarian a broad look as to how the internal organs are tolerating the toxin. A complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry panel will provide the veterinarian with needed information for proper assessment. If the veterinarian is concerned about dehydration, a packed cell volume (PCV) may be performed to determine hydration status. A urinalysis will also be performed to check your dog’s urine for any crystal formation.
If you believe or witnessed your dog chewing on this plant, take a piece of it with you to the clinic. This will allow for proper and quicker identification of the plant your dog consumed and therefore, the toxin it contains.
Treatment of Garden Calla Poisoning in Dogs
For any type of oral pain, drooling, or foaming at the mouth, the veterinarian may attempt to wash out your dog’s mouth. This will remove any remaining crystals from your dog’s mouth and hopefully prevent any more damage from occurring. This should also give your dog some relief from the oral pain he may be experiencing. Your dog will be started on fluid therapy to flush the toxin from the body quicker and to correct and prevent dehydration.
If your dog is experiencing breathing difficulties, your veterinarian may start your dog on oxygen via flow-by or place him in an oxygen cage. If your dog is experiencing severe swelling and is still not receiving enough oxygen from the passive methods, the veterinarian may have to intubate him and maintain oxygen administration via intubation until he stabilizes. An antihistamine will be administered to help decrease the swelling as quickly as possible. You should begin to notice a decrease in swelling within 2 to 4 hours and his breathing should return to normal.
Recovery of Garden Calla Poisoning in Dogs
Since most cases of garden calla poisoning are relatively mild, the prognosis for a full recovery is good. Once the oxalate crystals are rinsed from your dog’s mouth, no more injury should occur. If your dog is one of the unlucky ones that develops more severe side effects, his prognosis becomes guarded.
Educate yourself about the plants you have in and around your home. Many dogs do not disturb plants, but even the most well behaved dog can get curious. If you have this plant in your home, keep it at a height your dog cannot reach, even when standing on his hind legs. If you have this plant outside your home, keep it in an area your dog does not have access to and teach him to not chew on or ingest foliage.