What is Geranium Leaf Aralia Poisoning?
The geranium leaf aralia, also known as coffee tree or panax, is a large bush-like tree with glossy evergreen leaves that have yellow or cream colored edges. These shrubs may be found in the tropics of the Pacific region and southeast Asia being used as a wind barrier, but they have been cultivated to flourish in the southern United States as well. In addition, these plants make good potted plants in other states in homes and offices. If you have one of these pretty giants, you need to keep your pets away from it because the saponins in the plant can make your dog sick if any part is eaten. The side effects of saponin toxicity range from mild stomach discomfort to seizures and possible death if a considerable amount is eaten.
Geranium leaf aralias are not related to geraniums, as their name implies. However, they are toxic to dogs and other animals if consumed. There is a substance called saponin contained in the plant that causes irritation to the stomach, intestinal tract, and mucous membranes. If your dog eats a larger amount of the geranium leaf aralia, it may cause more serious side effects, such as heart palpitations, a rapid pulse, and convulsions, and in rare cases, it can even be fatal. Therefore, if you believe your dog ate part of a geranium leaf aralia, you should go to a veterinary hospital or clinic even if you have not noticed any symptoms.
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Symptoms of Geranium Leaf Aralia Poisoning in Dogs
If your pet ate an insignificant amount of the geranium leaf aralia, you may not even notice anything different. However, with a sizable consumption of the geranium leaf aralia you may notice:
- Skin irritation and rash on skin exposed to sap
- Irritation of the mucous membranes of the mouth and digestive tract
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Irregular heart rate and seizure with a significant consumption
The geranium leaf aralia is part of the Araliaceae family and is known by several other names, such as:
- Geranium aralia
- Panax or hedge panax
- Polyscias guilfoylei
- Coffee tree
- Wild coffee
Causes of Geranium Leaf Aralia Poisoning in Dogs
Saponin is the cause of geranium leaf aralia poisoning, which is found throughout the entire plant. The saponins have the capability to cause mild, moderate or severe effects with exposure or ingestion, ranging from skin irritation to irregular heart rate.
Diagnosis of Geranium Leaf Aralia Poisoning in Dogs
Poisoning diagnoses are sometimes difficult, but if you can bring a sample of the plant or a photograph, that may be a big help to the veterinarian. It can also help speed up the diagnosis and treatment if you bring your pet’s medical and shot records. If not, it is important that you mention to the veterinarian whether your dog is on any medication or has been sick or injured recently. In addition, explain what you saw your dog eat and when it happened as well as any symptoms you have seen, if any.
During the physical examination, the veterinarian will check your dog’s eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, overall coat and skin condition, pulse rate, blood pressure, weight, temperature, and breath sounds. An endoscope may be used to check your dog’s esophagus and upper airway for signs of plant material or inflammation. This is done while your dog is under sedation to prevent too much movement during the procedure. Blood tests that are most often needed are a complete blood count (CBC), packed cell volume (PCV), blood urea nitrogen (BUN), biochemistry profile, liver panel, and glucose test. Additionally, a fecal examination and urinalysis may be used to test for underlying illness or infections.
Abdominal images from radiographs (x-rays) and an ultrasound can help the veterinarian see if there are any blockages or plant materials in the intestinal tract or stomach. A CT scan and MRI may also be done for more detailed views.
Treatment of Geranium Leaf Aralia Poisoning in Dogs
The treatment for plant poisonings is usually basically the same (depending on the severity of symptoms) which include emesis, fluids, observation, and possibly medication or hospitalization if the symptoms are severe.
Removing the poison from your dog’s system is the first step, which is done by encouraging your pet to vomit. A peroxide solution or ipecac is commonly used in this situation. In addition, your veterinarian may give your dog activated charcoal to absorb any remaining saponins.
Intravenous (IV) Fluid Therapy
Fluid therapy is an important step to flush the kidneys and rehydrate your pet. An intravenous (IV) line will be used to replenish the electrolytes your dog may have lost from vomiting or diarrhea.
If your pet ate a large amount of geranium leaf aralia, the veterinarian may want to keep your dog for several hours or overnight for observation.
Recovery of Geranium Leaf Aralia Poisoning in Dogs
In most cases, your dog will be able to go home right away and be back to normal within one or two days. If there are complications from a large consumption of geranium leaf aralia, the veterinarian may recommend an overnight stay in the hospital for observation. To remove the risk of poisoning, make sure your dog is unable to access the geranium leaf aralia and any other poisonous plants from areas your dog frequents.