What is House Pine Poisoning?
The house pine, of the Araucariaceae family, originated on Norfolk Island, an island in the South Pacific Ocean between New Zealand and New Caledonia. Contrary to its name, this plant is not technically a pine tree, although it has the looks of one. This plant, when grown larger, is used for the making of furniture, building ships, and in house and building construction.
This plant is usually used as an ornamental plant in many homes and is very popular in the Mediterranean climate for outdoor decor. When used in the home, the house pine has the same look as a miniature pine tree and is quite popular for decorating in the winter and at Christmas time.
Mature trees can grow to heights of 200 feet with the trunk up to 10 feet wide. The miniature trees are made by the cultivation of the saplings. The leaves are very similar to a traditional pine tree as they are needle-like and curve upward on the tips, making the tree pointy-shaped. Another popular name for this plant is the Norfolk island pine, and it is mildly toxic to dogs and other small animals. It does contain a sap that will cause a variety of mild symptoms when ingested and when it comes into contact with the skin.
House Pine poisoning in dogs is caused by dogs eating the house pine plant, which contains a sap that can be irritating to dogs, causing mild to moderate reactions.
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Symptoms of House Pine Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog has ingested house pine, he may begin to have symptoms almost immediately or within a few hours. Symptoms may include:
- Mild gastrointestinal distress
- Skin reaction
- Reddened, itchy skin
The house pine has a few other names in which it is referred to. The most popular name of this plant is the Norfolk island pine. Other names include:
- Miniature pine
- Star pine
- Norfolk pine tree
- Triangle pine
- Triangle tree
- Living Christmas tree
Causes of House Pine Poisoning in Dogs
While the cause of the house pine plant’s toxicity is unknown, it is known that this plant contains an irritating sap. Possible causes of house pine poisoning include:
- Sap coming into contact with skin, causing allergic reaction
- Swallowed sap causing allergic reaction or irritation to the gastrointestinal tract
- Toxic principle within the plant causes dermatitis
Diagnosis of House Pine Poisoning in Dogs
If you have a house pine in your home or on your property, and your dog is exhibiting the above symptoms, take him to the veterinarian to have him examined and treated. If you suspect or know that your dog ingested this plant, take a piece of the plant with you to help the veterinarian with a proper diagnosis. If your dog started vomiting at home, taking a sample with you to the veterinarian clinic so it may be tested for plant material can also be helpful.
Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination on your dog, including blood work, urinalysis, and biochemistry profile. He will also check his heart rate, temperature, and his skin for any irritations. The veterinarian may go ahead and perform emesis to test the contents if you were unable to bring a sample in on your own. He may also check his stools for any plant residue as well. Your veterinarian will also ask questions about your dog’s symptoms and the severity of the symptoms. He will also ask you about the quantity of house pine that was eaten.
By studying your dog’s symptoms, and looking for any signs of toxicity, such as on the skin and with gastrointestinal upset, your veterinarian may come to a conclusion that your dog had a toxic reaction to this plant. Fortunately, house pine toxicity is not serious, and can be treated within a few hours unless your dog has reacted severely to eating a very large quantity. If this is the case, he may need to be kept overnight for treatment and observation before he may be allowed to return home.
Treatment of House Pine Poisoning in Dogs
Treatment for Norfolk island pine toxicity will vary depending on your dog’s symptoms. Typically, poisoning from this plant is mild and once your dog is successfully treated he should be able to resume a normal lifestyle very soon.
If your dog has yet to vomit on his own, your veterinarian may induce vomiting by administering a solution of hydrogen peroxide or similar solution. Emesis may be conducted to allow your dog to rid his gastrointestinal system of any toxins that have come from the house pine. After emesis, your veterinarian may administer a dosage of activated charcoal to absorb any further toxins that may be left over in his gastrointestinal tract.
IV fluids may be given if your dog has had an excessive amount of diarrhea or vomiting due to the toxic sap in this plant. IV fluids will help restore lost electrolytes and help your dog recover hydration and promote urination and healthy kidney function.
If your dog came into contact the sap of this plant, your veterinarian will examine his skin and determine if he needs bathing and thorough rinsing. Removing the sap from his body will prevent any further irritation to his skin, and this may be followed up by a topical ointment to help him with any discomfort he may be having.
Once your dog is treated, your veterinarian will want to keep an eye on your dog for at least a few hours, if not more. If he was exhibiting moderate to severe symptoms, the veterinarian may want to keep him overnight and watch him to be sure he is recovering properly.
Recovery of House Pine Poisoning in Dogs
After treatment of house pine poisoning, your dog should recover quite nicely. Once you are able to take him home, the veterinarian will give you instructions on how to care for him. He will also let you know of any symptoms to watch for, and will ask you to call him if you have any questions or concerns.
Your veterinarian may also recommend a bland diet for your dog that will be temporary as his gastrointestinal tract continues to heal. He may recommend a prescription diet food or give you a list of foods that you may feed him. Be sure to give him fresh water each day and change his bowl often. Continue to monitor his drinking habits as well has his eating habits.
Check your home and property for any other toxic plants and remove them or be very sure that your dog cannot come into contact with them. If you are unsure of which plants are toxic, you can contact your local Humane Society or ASPCA. Your veterinarian may be able to help you with this as well.