What is Indian Borage Poisoning?
The Indian borage plant is native of Africa and is known by many other names. Some consider it an herb, some think of it as a houseplant, and others may consider it an obnoxious weed. For example, the people of India use it as an herb in stuffing or meat because it has a pleasant oregano scent and flavor. Because of this attractive smell and taste, Indian borage may be more dangerous to your pet. It is a large and fleshy succulent with long hairs that can produce a dermal rash and irritation. Indian borage also grows short-stemmed clumps of light purple flowers at certain times of the year.
Indian borage poisoning can lead to serious consequences for your dog if not treated right away. Some of the side effects in dogs that have consumed some of this African herb include intense irritation to the mucous membranes of the mouth and intestines, vomiting, weakness, and muscle tremors. If a large amount is eaten, these effects can be serious, especially if your dog is very young, old, or has an illness that lowers the immune system.
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Symptoms of Indian Borage Poisoning in Dogs
The symptoms of Indian borage poisoning depends on the amount eaten and the health of your dog, but some of the most common signs are:
- Loss of appetite
- Diarrhea (sometimes bloody)
- Vomiting (sometimes with blood)
- Irritated mucous membranes
- Redness of the mouth, tongue, and skin of the face
- Pawing of the face
- Excessive drooling
- Muscle weakness and tremors
- Difficulty walking
Indian borage is scientifically named plectranthus amboinicus (previously coleus amboinicus) and is of the Labiatae family. Some of the most common names that Indian borage is known by are:
- Big thyme
- Bread and butter plant
- Broadleaf thyme
- Country borage
- Cuban oregano
- East Indian thyme
- French thyme
- Indian mint
- Mexican mint
- Spanish thyme
- Stinging thyme
Causes of Indian Borage Poisoning in Dogs
The cause of Indian borage poisoning in dogs is from the consumption of or exposure to Indian borage foliage. Some of the toxic properties in Indian borage are:
- Oils (methyleugenol eugenol, thymol, and carvacrol)
Diagnosis of Indian Borage Poisoning in Dogs
Whether you notice any side effects or not, you should go to the veterinarian if your dog eats any part of Indian borage. While this herb may be considered safe for humans in small amounts, there is no safe amount of Indian borage for your pet because their system is different than ours. Bringing a photograph of the plant or a sample to show the veterinarian may help with the diagnosis. However, if you cannot do that, a full description of the plant and how much was eaten can be helpful as well. Also, tell the veterinarian if your dog is on any medications or has had any recent illnesses.
A physical examination will give your veterinarian a good idea of your dog’s overall health and well-being. This includes vitals, body weight, temperature, blood pressure, breath sounds, and pulse rate.
Some abdominal images (x-rays) may be performed so your veterinarian can check for blockages or inflammation in your dog’s intestinal tract. If a more detailed view is needed, an ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI may be done as well. In addition, some laboratory tests are necessary to rule out underlying illnesses, such as a complete blood count, packed cell volume and hematocrit (PCV/HCT), creatinine (CREAT), blood urea nitrogen (BUN), liver enzymes, and chemistry panel.
Treatment of Indian Borage Poisoning in Dogs
To treat Indian borage poisoning, it is essential to get the toxins out of your dog’s system as soon as possible. To do this, if your pet has not already been vomiting, the veterinarian will induce emesis (vomiting), detoxification, fluid treatment, medication, and observation.
To induce vomiting, your veterinarian will give your dog ipecac or hydrogen peroxide. Afterward, charcoal will be given by mouth to absorb any toxins that may remain. This may be repeated if the veterinarian thinks it is necessary. A gastric lavage may also be administered to clean away any residual toxins in the intestinal tract,
Intravenous (IV) fluids are used to clear away any remaining poisonous substances and flush out your dog’s renal system. Fluid treatment is also important in decreasing dehydration.
No medications are usually needed with Indian borage poisoning.
Observation can usually be done by you from home unless your dog ate a large amount of Indian borage and treatment is not working as well as it should.
Recovery of Indian Borage Poisoning in Dogs
Your pet’s prognosis is very good with treatment and there should be no lasting complications if your dog is in good health. Let the veterinarian know if there are any changes and be sure to keep any follow-up appointments. It is best to remove the Indian borage from your home and yard or make sure your pet does not have access to prevent this from recurring.