What is Hosta Poisoning?
The hosta plant is a perennial, herbaceous plant that belongs to the family of Agavaceae. Having the genus of the same name, there are over 40 different species of these hardy plants. Hostas will grow in many different conditions in our native to the Eastern areas of Asia.
Hostas are a low-to-ground plant that has the characteristics of ribbed, or striped, leaves at the bottom of the plant and may have flowers at the very tip of the stalks. These stalks emerge from the leaves, and the flowers are in clusters in shades of white, or a shade of blue-purple mix. Hostas are often used in landscaping or in potted plants within homes.
Hostas contain a variety of saponins that are toxic to dogs in other small animals. Saponins cause vomiting and diarrhea; these are the typical symptoms of hosta poisoning. It is important to avoid planting hostas on your property and to avoid these potted plants within the home if you own dogs.
Hosta poisoning in dogs occurs when dogs ingest the hosta plant, which contains saponins that are toxic to dogs and are harmful if ingested or if they come into contact with the skin.
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Symptoms of Hosta Poisoning in Dogs
Symptoms of hosta poisoning occur when a dog choose any part of the plant. Hosta poisoning in dogs has the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain
- Twisting of intestines
- Loss of appetite
There are several different types of plants that contain saponins, and many natural soap makers depend on these plants for their hobby and business. Types of plants that contain saponins include:
- Christmas rose
- Horse chestnut trees
- Asparagus fern
- Cow cockle
- Corn cockle
Causes of Hosta Poisoning in Dogs
Causes of hosta poisoning in dogs is due to the toxic saponins within the plant. Causes of poisoning by saponins are:
- Saponins foam up as they enter the digestive tract
- The foam paralyzes the digestive tract
- The paralyzed digestive tract will cause twisting and loading of the intestines
- Skin contact with saponins may cause irritation and pain
Diagnosis of Hosta Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog has eaten a hosta plant, he may begin to have abdominal pain and symptoms shortly thereafter. It is important to take him to the veterinarian so he can be closely monitored and treated for saponin toxicity.
Once you call the veterinarian, the veterinarian may ask you to induce vomiting on your own by giving him a solution that is recommended by the veterinarian. Take a sample of the plant in with you as well as the vomit that the dog has dispelled. Once you are at the veterinarian’s office, he will ask you questions about how much he ate, how long it has been since he ingested the hosta, and how much he possibly ingested.
The veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination, which will include blood testing, biochemistry profile, and a urinalysis. The veterinarian will also check your dog’s mouth area and skin for any irritation from the milky and somewhat sticky sap. If needed, the veterinarian will thoroughly rinse your dog to help get rid of the irritating substance.
Testing will help the medical professional come to a conclusion of the type of toxicity your dog has. It will show if there are any chemical imbalances within your dog’s system and will accurately show if the organs are functioning properly.
Treatment of Hosta Poisoning in Dogs
After the veterinarian has come to a diagnosis of saponin poisoning, he will promptly begin treatment. Treatment methods may include:
If your dog has not self-vomited, the veterinarian will perform emesis to help rid your dog of the saponins. This will be followed by the administration of activated charcoal to help absorb the toxins to prevent them from further entering your dog’s system.
The veterinarian will immediately wash and rinse your dog with a mild cleanser and water to aid the removal of any sap that may have gotten on his face, eyes, coat and skin. The doctor may also need to flush out his mouth and eyes repeatedly with water to get rid of the toxic irritant.
Giving your dog regular IV fluids is an ideal way to prevent dehydration, to restore any system imbalances, maintain proper levels of electrolytes, and to promote kidney function and urination. An antihistamine may also be combined with the fluids if your dog is suffering from an allergic reaction from the saponins.
Symptoms will diminish within a few days or possibly longer, though the veterinarian will want to continue effective and consistent monitoring the of function of his kidneys and other systems. The veterinarian may choose to keep the dog overnight to continue to monitor him and to keep checking his blood work for signs of progression.
Recovery of Hosta Poisoning in Dogs
Once you have taken your companion home from the veterinary hospital, it will be important to keep a watchful eye on him and note any new symptoms that may occur. Keep him resting and avoid any rough play or long periods of outdoor time.
Your veterinarian may also suggest a new diet for your dog to be on, at least temporarily, until he fully heals and his gastrointestinal tract is ready for his regular food once again. The veterinarian may recommend a bland diet, with a list of foods which he would like your dog to eat, or a prescription dog food that is very mild on his system.
Your veterinarian will communicate with you any needs that you need to provide for your dog at home and what to watch for in terms of new behaviors. If your dog is continuing to take any medication, such as an antihistamine, be sure to administer it properly and on time each day.
In terms of follow-up visits, your veterinarian will let you know when he wants to see your dog again to be sure he is recovering nicely from hosta poisoning. Remove any hostas from your property, or be very sure that you can monitor your dog every time he goes outside so he does not eat any more of this poisonous plant.
Hosta Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
Our dog came down with mushy-diarrhea this morning, but we thought it was from the yams we gave to her last night for the first time. Then, later in the afternoon, my husband remembered that she had eaten some hosta leaves, the night before, and wondered if this might be the problem.
The symptoms that Gracie is presenting with would be attributable to the hosta leaves. I would advise you to seek Veterinary attention, but keeping her hydrated is very important. Saponins can cause serious illness in dogs and can affect the kidneys; Gracie may need fluid therapy and other supportive care. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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What can I do for my dog who ate a few leaves of this plant hostas. Very worried, but can't afford a vet...what can I do here at home to help him...,.please help
Hostas contain saponins which would cause vomiting, diarrhoea and lethargy; treatment of choice is gastric lavage, but supportive care and cleaning any sap from around the mouth to reduce any irritation of the mouth and muzzle. Large quantities ingested may lead to kidney problems, but small quantities would probably just cause some gastric upset which may last a few days; it is important to ensure that Bengie keeps hydrated, but if the symptoms worsen you must visit a Veterinarian regardless of cost. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
Yes, very insightful!
My puppy recently ate hosta flowers. He not only had diarrhea and vomiting and seizures! I don't see any mention of seizures for hosta poisoning. Is it possible? He has been to three vets/clinics in four days! Fluids and non seizure meds are a regular right now. I kept being told his brain wasn't developing correctly because he was so young. Now I think it is the hostas! Thanks for posting this and making me aware! Plant will be dug up tomorrow!
My 5 month old tore up a very small hosta that was sitting out to be planted. I don't think he actually ate any of it and when I found him he was chewing on the (now) empty plastic pot....after having spread the potting soil, leaves and small root ball on my living room rug.....My vet said to just keep an eye on him and bring him in IF he vomits....
My puppy (14 weeks) mouthed the leaf of a hosta plant, did not eat it, possibly a little chewing. He is eating and drinking and the only symptom is he is tired. That could be because puppies sleep 18-20 hours a day though.
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