What is Heartleaf Philodendron Poisoning?
The Heartleaf philodendron is a houseplant used to decorate many homes and gardens. This greenery is hardy, easy to grow, and quite beautiful. Although this plant is used in many homes and on properties, it is toxic to dogs when eaten.
The elongated leaves and soft, velvety stems both contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. When the leaves are bitten into, tiny and razor-sharp raphides are immediately released and quickly penetrate soft-tissue. In many cases, dogs halt the chewing after one bite because of the pain this plant can inflict. However, in some cases, the raphides may be swallowed, and can cause greater damage to the esophagus and gastrointestinal tract.
Heartleaf philodendron poisoning in dogs occurs when dogs ingest the heartleaf philodendron, resulting in toxic effects like vomiting and distress. Heartleaf philodendron contains insoluble calcium oxalate, which is the plant’s natural defense against pests and other herbivore-eating animals.
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Symptoms of Heartleaf Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog has bitten into a leaf of the heartleaf philodendron, he will immediately show signs of distress. Continuing to eat this philodendron can make him quite ill. Symptoms of heartleaf philodendron poisoning in dogs are:
- Severe drooling
- Shaking of the head
- Distress or confusion
- Foaming of the mouth
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of the mouth, tongue, or lips
- Pawing of the face, as if to remove something
The heartleaf philodendron has various monikers. It is important to know the various names in which this plant can go by to be sure it is not within your home. Different names for the heartleaf philodendron include:
- Fiddle-leaf philodendron
- Panda plant
- Split-leaf philodendron
- Red emerald
- Saddle-leaf philodendron
- Red princess
- Fruit salad plant
Causes of Heartleaf Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
The cause of poisoning from this plant begins with the ingestion of either the leaves of the stems. Causes of heartleaf philodendron toxicity are specifically due to:
- Histamine-releasing calcium oxalate crystals
- Raphides, which are sharp and penetrating
- Soft-tissue damage from the histamine-releasing raphides
Diagnosis of Heartleaf Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
If you suspect your canine has bitten into or consumed all or part of a heartleaf philodendron, he may begin to immediately suffer pain. It is important to call your veterinarian so he can be seen and treated quickly.
The veterinarian will ask you questions about the plant and how much your dog consumed. It will be quite helpful if you can take the plant in with you so the veterinarian can be sure of what he consumed; this will also aid in a quicker diagnosis. The veterinarian has knowledge of the symptoms of calcium oxalate toxicity, and may immediately see this if your pet’s mouth area is swollen and painful. He may begin by flushing out your pet's mouth and facial areas.
Various tests, such as biochemistry profile (especially if you know he swallowed any of the plant), bloodwork, and urinalysis will be conducted. The reasons for these tests include checking for levels of enzymes, protein, phosphorus, and any organ damage the dog may be suffering from. The veterinarian may also run tests to take a closer look at the liver, kidneys, and the gastrointestinal tract, especially if you suspect the dog swallowed a large quantity of the plant.
Treatment of Heartleaf Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
Treatment depends on the level of toxicity from the heartleaf philodendron. Checking the results of the test will show the veterinarian the levels of calcium oxalate within the dog. The veterinarian will also act upon his clinical signs. Treatment methods may include:
If not already performed during the diagnosis, the veterinarian will thoroughly rinse the dog’s mouth and facial area to help rid of the calcium oxalate crystals.
If the dog has not already self-vomited, the veterinarian will administer a solution of hydrogen peroxide or another type of solution to have him vomit. This will help the dog expel the stomach contents that contain the poisonous compound. This will also be followed up with activated charcoal to help prevent any further absorption by the gastrointestinal tract.
IV fluids are important to help the dog stay hydrated, to help the kidneys excrete the urine, and to help the dog’s body temperature remains stabilized. Within the fluids, the medical professional may also administer antihistamines in which the raphides have released, especially if the dog is having an allergic reaction.
Oxygen therapy may be given to help the dog with his breathing, especially if he is having any swelling in the esophagus due to the histamines. Oxygen therapy will also keep the dog stabilized as the veterinarian is performing methods of treatment.
Recovery of Heartleaf Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
Heartleaf philodendron poisoning in dogs can be serious if the dog has ingested a large amount of the plant. This will be determined by the veterinarian, and the dog may have to stay in the hospital for a few days in order to properly recover from the toxic compounds. Recovery depends on the dog; every dog is different in terms of recovery from calcium oxalate poisoning.
Once you bring your dog home, it will be important to follow the veterinarian’s instruction on aftercare techniques. The veterinary team will also want to schedule a few follow-up appointments to be sure the dog is recovering. The medical professional may also recommend a very bland diet if your companion suffered from gastrointestinal distress and will give you suggestions for foods to feed him as he is recovering.