What is Glacier Ivy Poisoning?
Glacier ivy is a variant of Hedera helix, the traditional English or branching ivy. This particular cultivar has variegated grey or green leaves and a cream colored border. Like all ivies it is a hardy evergreen, grown as an ornamental groundcover or a houseplant. The plant produces flowers and berries in late summer, but it is primarily grown for the foliage. The stems root directly into the ground, so ivy spreads easily covering tree trunks, stone walls, and even buildings. Ivies are native to Europe and western Asia, but they have been introduced and spread in other parts of the world. Because of its tendency to crowd out native species, ivy is considered invasive in some parts of the United States. All variants of H. helix contain toxic chemicals in the leaves which could be dangerous if a large quantity is ingested. Hederagenin, a saponic glycoside, gives the species its scientific name and the plant also contains triterpenoid saponins and several skin irritants called falcarinol and didehydrofalcarinol. If your dog eats a few leaves of glacier ivy, symptoms will most likely be limited to mild gastrointestinal upset, but the plant can be more toxic in large doses. Skin contact could also cause irritation or allergic reaction especially if the stems or leaves are broken.
Glacier ivy is a variety of branching ivy with dark green or grey leaves bordered by a cream colored edge. Like most types of ivy, it is toxic to dogs. Adverse effects are minimal if only a small amount is ingested, but in large doses the plant could be dangerous. Glacier ivy also contains skin irritants that can cause dermatitis.
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Symptoms of Glacier Ivy Poisoning in Dogs
These are the symptoms you may see if your dog is exposed to glacier ivy. Severe symptoms are only likely to occur if a large amount is ingested.
- Skin irritation
- Abdominal pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Dilated pupils
- Lack of coordination
Glacier ivy is one of many leaf patterns that can be found in different cultivars of Hedera helix. All types of ivy can be toxic for dogs in large quantities.
Causes of Glacier Ivy Poisoning in Dogs
- Ivy growing around your house
- Indoor ivy plant
- Dogs that like to eat foliage
- Small dogs could be more at risk
Diagnosis of Glacier Ivy Poisoning in Dogs
Diagnosis of glacier ivy poisoning will be based on your dog’s symptoms and a probable history of ingestion. If you have ivy in your house, you may find the chewed stems immediately, but they will be harder to detect if there is a large amount growing in your garden. Finding partially chewed ivy leaves or stems around your dog’s muzzle can be a good indication. Ivy contains skin irritants so there may also be signs of redness and irritation around the mouth or face.
Call a veterinarian or a poison helpline as soon as possible. Be prepared to describe the plant exactly, as well as give your dog’s weight and make an estimate as to how much you think was ingested. The agent will also want to know if your dog is experiencing any symptoms. If you think your dog may have ingested a large amount, or symptoms are very severe, you should get in person veterinary treatment as soon as possible. Bring a sample of the plant with you. Handle it carefully and avoid breaking any stems or leaves. The veterinarian may be able to confirm your diagnosis by analyzing vomit or stomach contents. Blood tests can also help to show toxicity, but these results may not be immediately available.
Treatment of Glacier Ivy Poisoning in Dogs
For immediate home treatment, remove any partially chewed leaves from your dog’s mouth. Gently rinse the mouth and tongue or any other areas that have come in contact with the plant. Give your dog milk or water to drink. Don’t induce vomiting unless recommended by your veterinarian or a professional agent from a poison hotline. Mild cases may not require further treatment, but if you’re not sure how much your dog ate, it’s best to see a veterinarian, especially if you have a small dog.
If poisoning took place within the last few hours, the veterinarian may induce vomiting. If a very large amount was ingested, gastric lavage could be necessary under anesthesia. Activated charcoal may also be given to reduce absorption.
Otherwise, treatment will be symptomatic. Medication may be given to protect and coat the gastrointestinal tract. Dehydrated dogs may need intravenous fluids and electrolytes. If your dog is experiencing respiratory difficulty, additional oxygen will be given. Severe tremors, muscle weakness, or other CNS symptoms might also need to be treated medically.
Recovery of Glacier Ivy Poisoning in Dogs
Most instances of ivy ingestion are mild. Since the plant causes irritation to the mouth, few dogs are likely to eat more than a leaf or two. Despite this, large amounts of ivy in or around your house could be a concern if your dog is prone to eating plants. Try planting dog-safe wheat grass in pots or around your house and encourage your dog to munch on this. Many dogs get fiber and nutrients from eating grass, so if this need is met, they will be less likely to eat toxic plants.