What is Hurricane Plant Poisoning?
The Hurricane plant is one many people have in or around their homes and businesses due to its aesthetically pleasing qualities. However, many people do not realize the hurricane plant is toxic to their dog, which leads to accidental cases of toxicities from ingestion. If your dog eats or chews any part of the hurricane plant, pain and swelling of the mouth develop almost immediately. If you witnessed or suspect that your dog took a bite of this plant, you need to consult your veterinarian.
The hurricane plant is an evergreen plant with glossy leaves, deep slits and oblong holes. If your pet eats any part of this plant, he may display symptoms of toxicity immediately. If you believe your dog ate a part of the hurricane plant, you need to contact your veterinarian without delay.
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Symptoms of Hurricane Plant Poisoning in Dogs
When your dog bites into the hurricane plant, he may display symptoms of toxicity immediately. Symptoms include
- Pawing at the mouth
- Foaming at the mouth
- Oral pain
- Swelling of the lips
- Swelling of the tongue
- Swelling of upper airway
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
If your dog develops any of these symptoms, call your veterinarian to alert him that you are on your way. Do not wait for signs of poisoning to worsen; prompt care is necessary.
The hurricane plant’s scientific name is Monstera deliciosa. It is native to Mexico and Central America but it is commonly found here indoors as a potted plant or as an evergreen ornamental outside. The hurricane plant is also known by alternate names:
- Mexican breadfruit
- Swiss cheese plant
- Cutleaf philodendron
- Split leaf philodendron
- Fruit salad
Causes of Hurricane Plant Poisoning in Dogs
The hurricane plant contains insoluble crystals of calcium oxalate known as raphides. These crystals are released when your dog bites into the plant. Since the crystals are insoluble, they cut into your dog’s tongue and mouth causing tissue injury.
Diagnosis of Hurricane Plant Poisoning in Dogs
When you take your dog to the veterinarian, the team will begin with a physical exam. Vitals will be taken and abnormalities will be noted. Blood work and other diagnostic tests may be performed to diagnose any internal damage. A complete blood count (CBC), chemistry panel, and packed cell volume (PCV) will provide the veterinarian with a broad understanding of how the organs are filtering the blood. A urinalysis may also be performed to assess the kidneys.
Depending on what the laboratory work shows, more in depth, specific tests may be performed. The laboratory work, combined with the symptoms your dog is experiencing, should be able to provide the veterinarian with enough information to diagnose the toxin. It is also helpful if you are able to bring a piece of the plant to the veterinarian’s office with you. This will allow for proper identification of the plant and the toxin it contains.
Treatment of Hurricane Plant Poisoning in Dogs
The symptoms your dog is experiencing will determine his course of treatment. For any type of oral pain, drooling, or foaming at the mouth, the veterinarian may wash out your dog’s mouth. This will rinse off any crystals still in the mouth before they can cause more damage.
An antihistamine will be administered to help decrease the swelling and you should begin to notice this decrease in 2 to 4 hours. If your dog is experiencing breathing difficulties, your veterinarian may start your dog on oxygen via flow-by or place him in an oxygen cage. If your dog is experiencing severe swelling, the veterinarian may have to intubate him and maintain oxygen administration via intubation until he stabilizes. Once the swelling of his throat decreases and is able to breathe on his own, oxygen support will no longer be needed.
Fluid therapy may be started to ensure your dog remains hydrated and to flush the toxins from his body quicker. Depending on your dog’s needs, additional medications, such as an antiemetic for vomiting, may be administered.
Recovery of Hurricane Plant Poisoning in Dogs
Toxicity from the hurricane plant may be considered mild to moderate. The amount of hurricane plant your dog consumed will be a major factor. Since the onset of symptoms occurs immediately, the sooner you seek veterinary care for your dog, the better his chances of recovery. If symptoms progress and advance in severity and no medical attention has been received, the prognosis of recovery goes from good to poor.
The best way to help your dog is to prevent hurricane plant toxicity from happening in the first place. Educate yourself on the plants you bring into your home or yard. If you do have this plant in your home, keep it at a height your dog cannot reach. If the plant is outside in areas around your home, keep it in an area your dog does not have access to, or monitor them when they are near it.