What is Mauna Loa Poisoning?
Although the Mauna Loa peace lily is a native of the tropics, they are very popular as houseplants. You may also see these beauties in malls or offices because they do not need much sunlight and they are known for cleaning the air of toxins like formaldehyde and benzene. The toxins in the Mauna Loa peace lily are not only poisonous to dogs, but to humans a well, so keeping them in your home if you have pets or small children is a risk. It is possible that consumption of part of the Mauna Loa peace lily may be fatal if your dog’s airway is inflamed enough to cause suffocation. In addition, the Mauna Loa peace lily contains a toxic sap that causes a painful rash with inflammation.
Mauna Loa peace lily poisoning is common in dogs because it is so popular as a houseplant and many people do not know about its toxicity. The insoluble calcium oxalate crystals in the plant are like tiny needles wrapped in bunches that are referred to as raphides. When your dog bites into these graphites, which are contained in the entire plant, these needles are able to penetrate the soft tissue in the mouth and throat. In many instances the penetration from the crystals produces inflammation, and this can be dangerous if it blocks the airway.
Book First Walk Free!
Symptoms of Mauna Loa Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog has bitten into or eaten part of a Mauna Loa peace lily, you may notice some unusual behavior such as pawing at the face and mouth, drooling more than usual, and whining. Some dogs (toy breeds, elderly, or sick) are more susceptible than others, but the most commonly reported signs of Mauna Loa peace lily poisoning are:
- Redness and irritation of the exposed skin
- Pawing at the face and mouth
- Appetite loss
- Weak barking
- Watery stool
- Swelling of the face and lips
- Swallowing difficulty
- Difficult breathing
- Heartbeat irregularities (too fast, too slow, skipping a beat)
The Mauna Loa peace lily is from the genus spathiphyllum in the family of Araceae. There are several other common types of peace lilies in this genus. The most common are:
- Spathe lily
- Peace lily
- Spathiphyllum wallisii (spathe flower, white sails)
- Spathiphyllum floribundum (snow flower)
- Spathiphyllum silvicola
- Spathiphyllum cochlearispathum
- Spathiphyllum montanum
Causes of Mauna Loa Poisoning in Dogs
Mauna Loa peace lily poisoning is caused by the calcium oxalates in the entire plant. Your dog can be affected by this poison in several ways:
- Touching or eating the leaves
- Ingesting berries, blossoms, or roots
- Skin exposure to sap
- Eating dirt from the planter
- Drinking water out of the plant watering tray
Diagnosis of Mauna Loa Poisoning in Dogs
It is very important that you go to a veterinary professional if you think your dog may have eaten or come into contact with a Mauna Loa peace lily. Even though the symptoms may be mild, there is always the possibility that the calcium oxalate crystals will have embedded themselves into your dog’s throat, airway, and even the inner lining of the intestinal tract. This can produce serious issues later on even if they do not seem to be a problem now. Bring a sample or a photograph of the plant to show the veterinarian if you can. This can help with the diagnosis and in getting the right treatment. Be sure to tell the veterinarian if your dog is on any kind of medication.
The first thing the veterinarian will do is examine your dog’s mouth and anywhere else that was exposed to the plant or its sap. If the veterinarian sees any plant residue or sap, rinsing the mouth with water or milk is the usual procedure to wash away the calcium crystals. An oral anesthetic and corticosteroid cream will most likely be applied to help reduce the swelling and ease the pain. Once your pet is more comfortable, the veterinarian will do an endoscopy to look into your dog’s throat and airway. With the endoscope (long and flexible tube), plant particles can be seen and removed using a small tool on the end of the endoscope. The veterinarian may be able to get enough of a sample to make a definitive diagnosis. However, some laboratory tests and radiograph (x-ray) imaging may be necessary to determine whether your dog has any obstructions in the intestinal tract and stomach. If necessary, the veterinarian may do an ultrasound to check for inflammation. The veterinarian will record your pet’s vital signs and get a urine sample for microscopic examination. The calcium oxalate crystals will usually show up in your dog’s urine and this can give your veterinarian an idea of how much was consumed. A chemistry profile and complete blood count are commonly done to check the levels of glucose, creatinine, sodium, potassium, protein, white and red blood cells.
Treatment of Mauna Loa Poisoning in Dogs
The treatment for Mauna Loa peace lily poisoning is similar to other poisonings, which includes decontamination, detoxification, medication, and observation.
The first step is to get rid of as much of the plant particles and sap from your dog’s body as possible. Since the veterinarian has already rinsed your pet’s mouth and checked the throat and airway, initiating emesis (vomiting) by giving ipecac should be done. Also, the veterinarian will give your dog activated charcoal to absorb the undigested toxins still in the intestinal tract.
To detox your pet, fluids will be administered intravenously. This will flush the toxins through your dog’s kidneys and prevent dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea.
Besides the topical cream for the irritated skin, an intramuscular injection of antihistamine and corticosteroids will be done along with cimetidine to reduce stomach acid.
Unless your dog consumed a large amount of Mauna Loa peace lily, the veterinarian will probably send you home after detoxification. However, if your pet is not responding well to treatment, an overnight stay may be needed for observation.
Recovery of Mauna Loa Poisoning in Dogs
Your dog’s prognosis is excellent as long as your companion recieved prompt therapy administered by a veterinary professional. You should expect your pet to be back to normal within 24-48 hours, depending on how much was consumed. You should carefully observe your dog for the next few days to watch for signs of complications and call your veterinarian if you have any problems.