What is Golden Pothos Tree Poisoning?
Some other names for the golden pothos (Epipremnum aureum) are pothos, devil’s vine, devil’s ivy, Solomon Islands ivy, silver vine, taro vine, money plant, ivy arum, and hunter's robe. This plant is a green climbing vine that may also be considered a tree because it grows up the side of a tree or pole to make it look like a tree. Both the stem and the leaves contain insoluble calcium oxalates, which are toxic to dogs. In fact, if a large amount of calcium oxalates are consumed, they can be absorbed into your dog’s bloodstream and be deposited into the kidneys, heart, liver, or anywhere else the bloodstream takes it. The glycosides and steroidal saponins irritate the tissues and cause swelling as well.
The golden pothos is part of the Araceae family in the Alismatales order. Like many other toxic plants, the golden pothos contains insoluble calcium oxalates, which are small crystals that work like microscopic needles when chewed or crushed. Doing so will cause your dog severe pain, difficulty swallowing, vomiting, drooling, and swelling. If a large amount is consumed, it is not uncommon for a dog to asphyxiate (choke) on the golden pothos leaves, which may be fatal. The vines as well as the leaves are toxic to dogs and other small animals or children, and cause immediate symptoms, which usually stops most dogs from eating a lethal amount, although some dogs will eat anything, so it is important to keep this plant out of the reach of your dog and children.
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Symptoms of Golden Pothos Tree Poisoning in Dogs
The first thing you may notice if your dog has eaten devil’s ivy is pawing at his mouth and face, whining, foaming, vomiting, and coughing. The effects may also make it hard for your dog to breathe, so it is essential that you get your dog to the veterinarian or animal clinic right away. Some of the other commonly reported signs are:
- Appetite loss
- Barking and whining
- Breathing trouble due to airway constriction
- Burning of lips, tongue, and mouth
- Drooling more than usual
- Foaming at the mouth and nose
- Irregular heartbeat
- Mouth pain
- Pawing at the face or mouth
- Rubbing head on things
- Swallowing difficulty
- Swelling of the mouth
Causes of Golden Pothos Tree Poisoning in Dogs
The cause of golden pothos toxicity is the consumption of any part of the plant because of these properties:
- Calcium carbonate
- Calcium oxalate
Diagnosis of Golden Pothos Tree Poisoning in Dogs
It is best if you can bring the veterinarian a sample of the plant to help speed up the diagnosis because the faster the diagnosis, the sooner your dog can get treatment. Let the veterinarian know how much and what part of the golden pothos you think your dog ate and how long ago it happened. You should also let them know what symptoms you have seen so far, if any. The other information your veterinarian will need to know is how old your dog is, vaccination records, last illness or injury, unusual behavior, medical history, and overall health. A complete physical examination will be done by the veterinarian, including blood pressure, breath sounds, physical appearance, weight, reflexes, body temperature, respirations, blood oxygen level (pulse oximetry), heart rate, and inspection of the eyes, nose, ears, and mouth.
Laboratory tests that will be done are blood gases, complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, electrolyte levels, and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) levels. Many of your dog’s BUN levels will be increased with golden pothos poisoning including creatinine, potassium, proteins, and calcium. A urinalysis shows a decrease in specific gravity, increased amylase, glucose and lipase. The veterinarian may also want to do an endoscopy to observe the inside of your dog’s upper airway. If there are any pieces of the ivy in your dog’s airway, the veterinarian will be able to remove it using the endoscope. X-rays of the abdomen will need to be done so the veterinarian can see your dog’s stomach and intestinal tract. In addition, a CT scan or MRI may be performed for a more detailed view.
Treatment of Golden Pothos Tree Poisoning in Dogs
Evacuation of your dog’s stomach will be done using a peroxide mixture to bring on emesis (vomiting). Also, a charcoal lavage may be used to clear leftover toxins from the digestive system and stomach. The activated charcoal absorbs the toxins so that they cannot do any more damage to your dog’s system. Fluid therapy by IV will be started to prevent dehydration and that will be continued overnight while your veterinarian keeps him for observation.
Recovery of Golden Pothos Tree Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog gets treatment within the first 24 hours after consumption, the prognosis is good because a lethal amount is not usually consumed due to the pain it causes. Be sure to remove the golden pothos plant from your home or property so this will not happen again and call your veterinarian if you have any concerns.