What is Good Luck Plant Poisoning?
The good luck plant looks like a shamrock, which makes sense since they are closely related. They usually grow to be about 8-12 inches high with three large heart-shaped leaves on each stem. Some may grow small white, pink, yellow, or red flowers with five to seven petals. They may be grown indoors as potted plants or outside as ground cover. However, wherever you grow your good luck plant, make sure your pet cannot get to it because the calcium oxalates are toxic. Calcium oxalates are found in over 1,000 different plants in the oxalate genus, but some have more than others. The calcium oxalates in the good luck plant are soluble, which are more dangerous than insoluble oxalates. Once it is absorbed, oxalic acid reacts with the calcium in the blood to form insoluble calcium oxalate. If your dog eats any part of a good luck plant, it is important to see a veterinary professional right away.
The good luck plant contains calcium oxalate salts and oxalic acid, which are poisonous substances that produce sores and numbness on contact, and can also affect the heart, digestive system, kidney function, and can even be fatal. The first thing your dog may do after biting into a good luck plant is whine or yelp because the oxalate crystals are like microscopic needles. Drooling and vomiting may follow, and your pet could possibly have trouble swallowing or breathing due to the inflammation caused by the crystals. If your dog ate a large amount of the plant, the side effects have a tendency to get serious very quickly, so if you notice your dog acting strangely after being around your good luck plant, you should go to a veterinary hospital or clinic as soon as possible.
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Symptoms of Good Luck Plant Poisoning in Dogs
Just like us, all dogs react differently to toxins due to the chemical composition of their body and their general health. Therefore, the signs of good luck plant poisoning are not going to be the same for all dogs, no matter how much they have consumed. However, some of the most commonly reported symptoms are:
- Excessive drooling
- Vocalization (barking and whining)
- Numbness of exposed area
- Pawing or rubbing at the face or mouth
- Inflammation of the lips, face, and tongue
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Difficulty urinating
- Blood visible in urine
- Extreme thirst
- Rapid heartbeat
- Kidney failure (increase or decrease in urination, fluid retention, extreme fatigue)
- Death (rare)
The good luck plant is from the oxalis genus, which has close to 1,000 species. All of them contain oxalic acid, which is where the genus got its name, but some have more than others. The good luck plant contains a moderate amount of oxalic acid throughout the entire plant. Some of the most common names for good luck plants are:
- False shamrock
- Sour grasses
- Wood sorrel
Causes of Good Luck Plant Poisoning in Dogs
Calcium oxalate crystals in the good luck plant cause many side effects, but the most lethal is the damage done to the kidneys. These oxalate crystals trigger kidney failure by building up and obstructing the renal tubes, damaging the kidneys so they cannot function properly.
Diagnosis of Good Luck Plant Poisoning in Dogs
The first thing the veterinarian will want to do is a physical examination of your dog’s coat, skin, ears, eyes, nose, and mouth. A check of your pet’s pulse rate, oxygen levels, blood pressure, body temperature, breath sounds, weight, and reflexes will also be necessary to determine your dog’s overall health. Bring a sample of the plant or a photograph, if possible, and your dog’s medical records as well. Be sure to tell the veterinarian if your dog is on any kind of medication.
A complete blood count, serum-creatinine, calcium, bilirubin, potassium, arterial blood gases, and packed cell volume (PCV) will be done to check for dehydration, chemical imbalance, and kidney function. An endoscopy will also be performed to check for inflammation of the throat and airway. Abdominal x-rays, an ultrasound, and possibly CT scans will be performed to check for blockages, plant residue, inflammation, and organ damage.
Treatment of Good Luck Plant Poisoning in Dogs
The most important part of treatment is to remove the toxins from your dog’s body. There are four steps to treat good luck plant poisoning, which are evacuation, detoxification, medication, and observation.
To remove the toxins, the veterinarian will give your pet ipecac by mouth to induce emesis (vomiting). Activated charcoal is also given by mouth to absorb any calcium oxalates that have not been absorbed.
A gastric lavage will be done to rinse away any plant particles or toxins that may remain in the stomach and intestinal tract. In addition, fluids will be given by intravenous (IV) line to flush the kidneys and prevent dehydration.
The veterinarian may give stomach protectants and antacids to help settle the gastric irritation and topical cream for skin irritation. Antiemetics may also be given to stop the vomiting if needed.
Your veterinarian may want to keep your dog overnight for observation, but this is only if your dog is not responding well to treatment.
Recovery of Good Luck Plant Poisoning in Dogs
Prognosis is excellent as long as you were able to obtain treatment within 12 hours. Complications are usually only present when treatment is delayed or when there are underlying health conditions that may be complicated by the poisoning. Once home with your pet, monitor him as he recovers. If you have any cocerns about his appetite, activity level, and toileting habits, be certain to contact the clinic.