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The grass palm plant is one that doesn’t take too much tending to for it to thrive. This leads it to be a popular plant to have around homes and roadsides as attractive vegetation. While this plant is easy to care for, if ingested by your dog, he may develop symptoms of toxicity. Symptoms may be considered mild, but can escalate if veterinary care is not sought out. Treatment will be in the form of supportive therapies as the toxin leaves your dog’s system. The amount of grass palm ingested will determine the amount of time it takes for your dog to make a full recovery but prognosis is good.
Grass palm is a relatively hardy, exotic looking plant many people have in and around their homes. However, this plant is toxic to your dog if he ingests any part of it. If you believe your dog consumed a part of this plant, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Symptoms of toxicity may vary from case to case. Symptoms of toxicity may include:
Time of onset of symptoms can differ and depend on how much your dog ingested.
Grass palm is also commonly known as palm lily and giant dracaena. It belongs to the Agavaceae family with the scientific name of Cordyline australis. This plant is commonly found in coastal regions and city plantings due to its palm-like appearance. This species does well in full sunlight and typically survives outdoors in mild winters.
Grass palm’s toxic properties come from its production of saponins. Saponins are known for their foaming characteristic. While some saponins are beneficial to consume, the ones found in grass palm are not. The foaming property is what leads to all the symptoms of poisoning listed above.
Symptoms of grass palm poisoning are very vague; many things can cause the listed symptoms. There are a number of diagnostic tests the veterinarian may need to perform to come to a proper diagnosis. When you first arrive at the clinic, she will begin by collecting a history from you. She will want to know any and all details of what your dog possibly could have come into contact with within the past 24 hours. She will perform a physical exam on your dog to check his vitals and note any other symptoms he may be experiencing.
A blood sample will be taken so lab work can be performed to give information on how the internal organs are functioning. A complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry panel will be the first two tests run to give a broad look as to how your dog’s system is handling the toxin. She may also want to run a urinalysis for additional information on the kidneys.
In addition to these tests, the veterinarian may want to take a radiograph of your dog’s abdomen to check for any abnormality or blockage that may be causing the vomiting. The presence of blood in the vomit can be indicative of ulceration or injury to the gastrointestinal tract. When this symptom develops without any prior signs, it typically indicates some sort of irritation from something he ingested.
If you suspect your dog ingested a part of the grass palm plant, bring it with you to the veterinarian’s office. This will allow for proper identification of the toxin your dog ingested.
Your dog will be started on intravenous fluids to flush the toxin from his system quickly and safely. It will also help correct and prevent any dehydration he may be experiencing from the vomiting and unwillingness to drink. The veterinarian may administer an antiemetic to offer him some relief from the vomiting.
If your dog is not vomiting, the veterinarian may induce vomiting to rid his stomach of any remaining ingested pieces of the grass palm. If too much time has passed since he ingested the plant, she may just administer activated charcoal to bind to the toxin, to prevent the body from absorbing any more, and to act as a protective layer for the gastrointestinal tract.
If your dog has stopped vomiting and seems to be feeling better but still isn’t eating, the veterinarian will administer an appetite stimulant to get him interested in food again. She may want to keep your dog overnight to monitor his symptoms and continue administration of supportive therapies.
The amount of grass palm your dog ingested will determine his recovery process. As long as your dog is recovering well, eating normally, and resuming his normal activity level, a follow-up with the clinic will not be needed. However, if you have any concerns about the recovery process, contact a member of the veterinary team.
If you have the grass palm around your home, keep it in an area your dog does not have access to. Any ingestion of a potentially toxic plant or substance should always be investigated by a veterinarian.
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