What is Marjoram Poisoning?
Marjoram is grown commercially for herbal and culinary uses, and grows best in warmer climates in the United States such as Southern California, Florida, and Louisiana. With a height of about two feet, marjoram grows like a small shrub with aromatic foliage that blooms small white or pink flowers during the summer months. This herb tastes and smells similar to oregano and is used for seasoning meats, stews, soup, etc. Some use marjoram as an herbal remedy for all sorts of ailments, from indigestion to liver disorders. However, it is dangerous for pets and small children and should never be used without the advice of a physician.
Marjoram is an herb that you may recognize from the spice aisle at the grocery store, but it is dangerous for dogs. The actual toxins in marjoram are not known, but it causes gastric irritation, leading to diarrhea and vomiting. Some of the other side effects from Marjoram are slow heart rate, low blood sugar, gastrointestinal blockage, ulcers, respiratory irritation, seizures, and bleeding disorders such as slow clotting. Although many of these are uncommon, the chances are enough of a concern to warrant a trip to the veterinarian if your dog decides to eat some of this aromatic and tasty herb.
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Symptoms of Marjoram Poisoning in Dogs
Most often, the symptoms of marjoram poisoning are mild intestinal issues, but in some cases, there has been instances of more serious side effects. Some that have been reported are:
- Decreased heart rate
- Low blood sugar
- Gastric ulcers
- Slow clotting time
The scientific name of marjoram is origanum majorana from the origanum genus of the Lamiaceae family. Some of the most common nicknames of marjoram are:
- Knotted marjoram
- Pot marjoram
- Sweet marjoram
- Garden marjoram
- Wild marjoram
- Marjorana herb
Causes of Marjoram Poisoning in Dogs
Though the specific causes of marjoram poisoning are of unknown origin, it is known that the plant (as well as in dried herb form) can cause irritation to the gastrointestinal system (such as blockages, diarrhea, and ulcers), central nervous system effects (seizures), and abnormalities with the heart. Fortunately most events of ingestion by canines cause mild effects only.
Diagnosis of Marjoram Poisoning in Dogs
Even though marjoram poisoning is not usually serious, it is best to bring your dog to the veterinarian just to be on the safe side. If you can get a picture or sample of the marjoram plant that your pet was eating, it can help with the diagnosis and the treatment plan. Describe how much you saw your dog eat and the side effects that you noticed, if any. You should also bring in your pet’s medical records and make sure you tell the veterinarian if you have given your dog any medication. Changes in behavior and appetite should be mentioned as well.
Next, a complete examination will be completed, including your pet’s temperature, reflexes, weight, oxygen level, breath sounds, blood pressure, and pulse rate. In addition, the veterinarian will need to get urine and stool samples for microscopic examination. The blood tests will come next, which include blood glucose level, complete blood count, and a biochemistry profile to check the levels of creatinine, sodium, potassium, bilirubin, and protein. A packed cell volume (PCV) test to gauge your dog’s level of dehydration and a liver enzyme panel to make sure the liver is still functioning properly.
Also, an endoscopy can be done to check for blockages in your pet’s airway and to remove any plant particles that may be lingering there. There is a lighted camera at the end of the endoscope which lets the veterinarian get a good look at your dog’s airway, esophagus, and throat and tools can be placed in the endoscope to remove plant residue and small blockages. Images will be needed to verify whether there are any issues, such as intestinal obstructions, that need to be removed. Abdominal x-rays (radiographs) are usually used for this purpose, but an ultrasound, MRI, and CT scan can also be performed to get a more comprehensive view.
Treatment of Marjoram Poisoning in Dogs
Treating marjoram poisoning may include just some fluids to rehydrate your pet, or the veterinarian may decide to go ahead and do the usual evacuation, detoxification, medication, and observation. This depends on what the examination and tests revealed.
This step includes giving your dog an emetic such as ipecac to induce emesis (vomiting). Additionally, the veterinarian may give your pet activated charcoal to absorb any undigested toxins.
To flush the kidneys, fluids will be given intravenously. This will also help prevent dehydration and replace electrolytes lost from vomiting and diarrhea.
There should be no medication necessary except maybe antiemetics to control the vomiting.
Your dog should not need to be admitted for observation so you will be able to return home after your dog is rehydrated.
Recovery of Marjoram Poisoning in Dogs
Prognosis for marjoram poisoning is excellent unless there are complications, which is rare. The veterinarian may recommend a bland diet and rest for the next few days, but your pet should be back to normal by the next day.