What is Kudu Lily Poisoning?
Kudu lilies are African natives, but have been cultivated to grow in warmer climates, such as southern California, Texas, and Florida. It can also be grown as a potted plant indoors in shopping malls, offices, and homes, although this is dangerous to keep in your home if you have pets or small children. The kudu lily can grow up to ten feet tall when grown as a shrub outdoors and up to five feet indoors. What makes this gorgeous plant so deadly is the sap, which is used in Africa on the tips of arrows to hunt and fish.
The kudu lily of Africa is an exquisite looking plant with a dangerous toxin hidden inside. The kudu lily has over thirty cardiac glycosides in the foliage, blooms, bark, and especially the roots. These glycosides interrupt the heart functions, causing lethal heartbeat irregularities and possible heart failure. This gorgeous tropical lily can also affect your dog’s digestive tract and central nervous system. If your dog eats any part of the kudu lily, it can be fatal quickly if not treated immediately.
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Symptoms of Kudu Lily Poisoning in Dogs
Kudu lily poisoning is known to affect the digestive, cardiac, and central nervous systems as well as various other systems in the body. Some of the most commonly reported side effects in dogs from kudu lily consumption are:
- Appetite loss
- Pain in abdomen
- Abnormal heart rate (too slow, too fast, irregular beats, weak pulse)
- Retaining fluid (swollen abdomen)
- Extreme fatigue
- Heart failure
Central Nervous System
- Unable to control movements
Other Clinical Symptoms
- Liver or kidney failure
The kudu lily, adenium obesum, is part of the Apocynaceae family. Some experts consider this more like a cactus than a lily, but it is also known by:
- Sabi star
- Mock azalea
- Impala lily
- Desert rose
- Desert azalea
Causes of Kudu Lily Poisoning in Dogs
The cause of kudu lily poisoning is the 30 various cardiac glycosides in the entire plant. The highest toxicity is found in the roots of the kudu. Ingestion of the plant can cause very serious problems for your dog, for example affecting the heart and cardiovascular system.
Diagnosis of Kudu Lily Poisoning in Dogs
The only way to be certain whether or not your dog is suffering from kudu lily poisoning is by seeing a veterinary professional, so it is important to take your pet to your veterinarian or a veterinary hospital. Even if you just think your dog may have only chewed on a small piece and is not showing signs of illness, it is better to be safe than sorry. Delaying treatment can make therapy more complicated and may even be deadly.
If you have a sample or photograph of the plant, bring it with you to show the veterinarian. This can help produce the best treatment plan for your pet. Tell the veterinarian as much information as you know about the plant, how much and what part your dog ate. Also, let her know about any side effects you have seen and if your dog is on any kind of medication.
The first thing the veterinarian will do is to give your pet a thorough physical examination, including vitals (heart rate, body temperature, respiration rate, and blood pressure), and examining your dog’s skin and coat condition. In addition, radiographs (x-rays) and an ultrasound of the abdomen will help your veterinarian see what is going on inside your pet’s internal organs. An MRI and CT scan may also be performed to get a closer and more detailed look to see if the digestive system is clear of stricture and obstructions. Next, some laboratory tests will be needed, such as a complete blood count (CBC), hematocrit, liver enzyme panel, biochemical profile, packed cell volume (PCV), creatinine (CREAT), and blood urea nitrogen (BUN). Additionally, due to the cardiac side effects of kudu lilies, an electrocardiogram (EKG) will be used to check your dog’s heart function.
Treatment of Kudu Lily Poisoning in Dogs
To treat your dog, the veterinarian will go by the symptoms shown and laboratory tests results. She will also take into account your pet’s general health and age. Most often, the treatment in these cases consists of evacuation, decontamination, fluid therapy, medications, and observation.
This step includes inducing emesis (vomiting) by giving ipecac or a hydrogen peroxide solution. Also, activated charcoal is used to bind and absorb the toxins that have not been absorbed by the body yet.
To decontaminate, a flexible tube will be inserted into your dog’s stomach through the mouth to flush the intestinal tract with warm water. Additionally, an intravenous (IV) line will be used to give your dog fluids to flush the kidneys. This also prevents dehydration from diarrhea and vomiting.
For continued vomiting, an antiemetic will be added to the IV as will an antiarrhythmic medication for heart abnormalities, if necessary. Antacids and stomach protectants can also be given to calm the digestive tract.
Your veterinarian will probably recommend an overnight stay at the hospital for observation because of the serious side effects that may occur from kudu lily poisoning.
Recovery of Kudu Lily Poisoning in Dogs
Your pet’s recovery is dependent on how soon you were able to get treatment and how much kudu lily your dog consumed. Most often, if your dog received treatment in the first 12 hours, the prognosis is good. However, if there are complications or if your dog does not respond to treatment well, there could be permanent damage to the heart, shortening your pet’s life by quite a bit. That is why it is very important to always take your dog to the veterinarian if you are unsure of what and how much your dog ate. Observe your dog for several days to watch for signs of complications (heartbeat irregularities or any of the other symptoms listed above), and call your veterinarian if you have any problems or questions.