What is Lovage Poisoning?
The lovage plant is native to Europe and Asia, although it has been cultivated to grow in the United States. This large herb can grow up to eight feet tall with greenish yellow flowers in clusters. Its leaves are similar to a maple leaf and parsley mixed together. It smells and tastes like celery so it may be appetizing to your pet, which is unfortunate since the lactones in the plant act as a diuretic and may cause dehydration and loss of vitamins from increased urination.
Lovage poisoning in dogs is usually a mild disorder caused by eating any part of a lovage plant. There are several toxins, including volatile oils such as phthalide lactones (ligustilide, butylphthalide, sedanolide, a-terpineol, eugenol, and carvacrol) macrocyclic lactones, sedanolide, and furanocoumarins. The lactones act as a diuretic, meaning the kidneys produce more urine than usual.
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Symptoms of Lovage Poisoning in Dogs
- Frequent urination
- Muscle cramps
- Extreme thirst
- Photosensitivity (leading to skin cancer with long term poisoning)
- Extremely low or high blood pressure
- Respiratory failure
Lovage is part of the Apiaceae/Umbelliferae family, which is more commonly known as the parsley, celery, or carrot family. There are several types of lovage and different names it is known by, such as:
- Maggie plant
- Garden lovage
- Cornish lovage
- Italian lovage
- Szechuan lovage
- Old English lovage
- Hipposelinum levisticum
- Ligusticum chuanxiong
- Ligusticum levisticum
- Sea parsley
- Love parsley
- Mountain celery
- Levisticum paludapifolium
- Bladder seed
- Levisticum levesticum
- Selinum levisticum
Causes of Lovage Poisoning in Dogs
The toxins in lovage are volatile oils, especially phthalide lactones. Certain breeds are more susceptible to the toxins in lovage because of a mutation in the MDR-1 gene that affects the blood-brain barrier, making it easier for the toxin to get through to the brain. These breeds are:
- Australian Shepherd
- English Shepherd
- English Shepherd
- German Shepherd
- Herding Breed Cross
- Longhaired Whippet
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Silken Windhound
Less Affected Breeds
- Berger Blanc Suisse
- Border Collie
- Old English Sheepdog
Diagnosis of Lovage Poisoning in Dogs
It may help with the diagnosis if you bring a sample or a photograph of the plant your pet ate. You should also tell the veterinarian how much was consumed and when it happened. Bring your dog’s medical records and tell the veterinarian about any medications your pet has been given. The first thing the veterinarian will want to do is perform a complete and thorough physical examination. This includes weight, temperature, blood pressure, reflexes, heart rate, and breath sounds. In addition, an endoscope may be used to get a better look at the throat and esophagus to see if there is any swelling or blockages. Laboratory tests are done next, which include a complete blood count, biochemistry profile, liver and kidney panels, urinalysis, and fecal examination. The veterinarian will want to check your pet’s stomach and intestinal tract with x-rays and possibly an ultrasound. This is to see if there are any blockages, inflammation, or plant particles. Sometimes, the veterinarian may want a better look and will perform an MRI and CT scan.
Treatment of Lovage Poisoning in Dogs
To treat your dog for lovage poisoning, there are several steps that need to be done. First, the veterinarian will eliminate the toxins in your dog’s system with evacuation and will perform detoxification with fluid therapy. Medications will be given if needed, and observation will be done last.
Ipecac or hydrogen peroxide will be given to get your dog to vomit. Also, activated charcoal will be given by mouth to absorb any leftover toxins and plant residue.
Detoxing your dog starts with a gastric lavage, done by cleansing the intestinal system with warm sterile water. After this is done, the veterinarian will give intravenous (IV) fluids to flush the kidneys and prevent dehydrations.
If your dog is still vomiting, an antiemetic will be given to help control it. Since the effects only last about 24 hours, your pet will be out of danger quickly as long as you get help from a qualified veterinary professional. An anesthetic and anti-itch cream will be prescribed for the contact dermatitis and sun exposure.
Recovery of Lovage Poisoning in Dogs
As stated above, your dog will be back to good health within 24 hours, but you should keep an eye on the urine output and fluid intake and report anything unusual to your veterinarian. Be sure to remove the lovage or fence off that area so your dog and neighbors’ dogs are not able to reach it. Return to the clinic for a follow-up visit in about a week, or as directed by the veterinarian.