What is Gardenia Poisoning?
Gardenias are a large group of flowers with hundreds of different colors, shapes, and sizes all over the world. Some are grown indoors as houseplants and some grow outside either wild or in gardens. They are all poisonous to dogs although some are more toxic than others. The berries are the most dangerous because they hold the highest concentration of toxins. If your pet consumed part of a gardenia, no matter what kind, it is best to go to a veterinary professional. If therapy is delayed, it may be more difficult to treat.
The gardenia is a genus of many flowering plants from the Rubiaceae family that can cause a toxic effect if your pet decides to eat the flowers, berries, or foliage. There are more than 140 species of gardenias, but the most common is the cape jasmine (gardenia jasminoides). All of these beautiful flowers are poisonous due to several toxic properties in the foliage, flowers, and berries, which hold the most toxins. The properties that have been documented are saponins, crocetin, gardenoside, genipin, geniposide, and glycosides. While most of these substances only cause mild gastric disturbances, the crocetin, genipin, and saponins can cause more serious symptoms which are cardiovascular, nervous system, and intestinal irritation.
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Symptoms of Gardenia Poisoning in Dogs
There are quite a few side effects of gardenia poisoning that are varied depending on what part of the plant your dog ate and how much was eaten.
- Low blood pressure
- Extremely low body temperature
- Heartbeat irregularities
- Partial loss of sight
- Abdominal pain
- Appetite loss
- Red rash or hives
- Irregular gait
Causes of Gardenia Poisoning in Dogs
There are several toxic properties in gardenias.
- Alkaloids in the berries
- Crocetin in the foliage and flowers
- Glycosides, gardenoside, and geniposide are in the entire plant
- Geniposidic acid is in the whole plant as genipin
- Saponins are in the sap and berries
Diagnosis of Gardenia Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog ingested a portion of the gardenia plant, no matter what kind it is, you should see your veterinarian right away. If you are unable to get an appointment, go to a veterinary hospital or clinic because even if you do not see any symptoms, the effects of the toxins may already be at work doing damage that you cannot see. Try to get a sample of the plant or take a photograph to show the veterinarian. It is also a good idea to bring your pet’s medical records, but if you do not have them, just be sure to mention any medications your dog is on and any recent illnesses.
A comprehensive physical examination will be done first to check your dog’s blood pressure, temperature, weight, heart rate, and breath sounds. The veterinarian may also examine your pet’s ears, eyes, nose, and mouth. Urine and stool samples will also be needed to test microscopically for fungal and parasitic infestations.
In addition, blood tests such as blood urea nitrogen (BUN), creatinine (CREAT), packed cell volume (PCV), haematocrit (HCT), complete blood count (CBC), liver panel, and chemistry profile will be done. Abdominal x-rays are usually performed to see if there are any blockages or damage to vital organs. If needed, an ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI may be performed for a more detailed view.
Treatment of Gardenia Poisoning in Dogs
The treatment for gardenia poisoning is similar to other poisonings, which is emesis, intravenous (IV) fluids, medication, and observation.
To rid your dog’s body of toxins, the first thing to do is to induce emesis (vomiting) if your dog is not already vomiting. A peroxide solution or ipecac will be given that will cause your dog to vomit. Activated charcoal may be used to absorb any leftover toxins and a gastric lavage can be performed to rinse any excess plant residue from the stomach.
The veterinarian will use an intravenous (IV) line to administer fluids in order to flush the kidneys. This will also decrease the possibility of dehydration.
The veterinarian may administer stomach protectants or other medications through your dog’s IV depending on how your dog is responding to treatment.
If your dog consumed a large amount of gardenia berries or if the treatment is not working as it should, an overnight stay in the hospital for observation will be needed. If not, you can observe your dog from home.
Recovery of Gardenia Poisoning in Dogs
The prognosis is good if your dog received prompt treatment, even if the berries were eaten. Although there are several different types of toxins in the gardenia, they are not usually fatal unless your dog is already ill or if you do not get treatment. Continue to observe and monitor your pet for several days and call your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns about the treatment and recovery.
Gardenia Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My 7 month old German Short Haired pointer ate part of my gardenia bush last night. This am I noticed that he had vomited overnight and seems a little lethargic and is walking with a slightly irregular gait(not consistently). What should I do?
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My five month old purebred German shepherd injested/chewed up a non flowering gardenia plant last night 6/26/17. The next day she had explosive diarrhea and mild vomiting. By the time I figured it out, she was eating and drinking again. She was running around as well. Should I assume the gardenia poisoning episode has subsided? She is also sleeping well.
Gardenia is mildly toxic to dogs and normally causes gastrointestinal upset (vomiting and diarrhoea) and may result in hives appearing on the skin. If you see the symptom return or any other worrying symptoms, visit your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
Sadiebug has gotten over the poisoning without fanfare. 24 hrs later she is fine and eating, drinking & acting normal. Thank you.
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