What is Java Beans Poisoning?
There have been no known cases of death in dogs by consumption of the java beans plant, but it still poses a threat. Gastrointestinal upset is the most common side effect seen in dogs, but renal failure is also a possibility. This plant can be found throughout the Southeastern United States in any type of landscape and ecosystem. If you believe your dog consumed a part of this plant and is displaying symptoms of toxicity, you need to alert your veterinarian.
The java bean, also known as the sicklepod, is commonly found along road sides, waste areas, and pastures. It is considered an invasive weed and can potentially be toxic if ingested by your dog. If you witnessed your dog eating this plant, you need to contact your veterinarian immediately.
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Symptoms of Java Beans Poisoning in Dogs
While the java bean is not considered toxic to dogs, it still can potentially harm them if consumed in excess. Symptoms of toxicity include
- Skeletal muscle damage
- Production of dark urine
- Kidney damage
- Liver damage
It also contains medicinal properties to lower blood pressure, so if your dog consumes a large quantity of the java beans plant, he may develop related health problems.
The java bean is in the family Fabaceae (Leguminosae) and genus Senna. There are different species of this genus, all of them varying in toxicity, but all are toxic none the less. Common interchangeable names of this plant include coffee senna, sicklepod, sicklepod senna, and Chinese senna. This plant is considered an invasive weed; it has medium green foliage and can produce yellow blooming flowers.
Causes of Java Beans Poisoning in Dogs
The exact toxin of the java beans plant is not clearly established. However, the toxin appears to severely affect the renal system. The toxin is present in both the leaves and the stem of the java bean plant, in both living and dried forms.
Diagnosis of Java Beans Poisoning in Dogs
If you witnessed your dog eating the java bean plant, you need to take him to the veterinarian as soon as possible. When you arrive, the veterinarian will perform a physical exam to evaluate your dog’s symptoms and to note any abnormalities of his vitals. Bring the plant with you if possible so the veterinarian will know what toxic plant she is dealing with.
Since the renal system is the most severely affected system, laboratory work will be performed. Blood work will consist of a complete blood count (CBC), a chemistry panel and a packed cell volume (PCV). The CBC and chemistry panel will provide the veterinarian information on how your dog’s body is metabolizing the toxin. The PCV will determine if your dog is dehydrated, and if so, by how much. Other diagnostic tests may consist of a urinalysis to offer more information on the kidneys. If further evaluation is needed, a kidney profile panel is an additional type of blood test that will also determine how the kidneys are functioning.
Treatment of Java Beans Poisoning in Dogs
Supportive therapy will begin immediately after, or even before, diagnosis. Your dog will begin to receive fluids to flush the toxin from his body quickly and efficiently as well as to keep the kidneys functioning properly. Electrolytes may also be given to help correct any damage and prevent progression of damage to the renal system.
Your veterinarian may attempt to induce vomiting in your dog to rid the stomach of any remaining plant particles. If this is unsuccessful, activated charcoal may be administered to bind with the toxin and prevent further absorption by the body. Since the exact toxin of the java beans plant is unknown, symptomatic supportive therapy will be the method of treatment.
Recovery of Java Beans Poisoning in Dogs
While there have been no reported cases of death from java bean toxicity in dogs, it can still potentially harm your dog. Any time the renal system can be harmed from a toxin, fluid therapy needs to begin immediately. The sooner it is started, the better your dog’s chances of a full recovery. Once your dog is in renal failure, there is no correcting it.
If your dog was healthy prior to his ingestion of the java bean plant, prognosis is good. If you know you have this weed on your property, try to limit your pet’s access to it. For people who cannot, perhaps if you have a large property and your dog has full reign of it, try to train your dog to not eat or chew on foliage.