What is Mexican Breadfruit Poisoning?
The Mexican breadfruit is an evergreen plant which is native to the tropical climates of north-central and the rain forests of South America. This invasive plant is used in the decorations of public buildings, in gardens, and as a popular houseplant. The leaves are very large and glossy and somewhat heart-shaped and are adorned with white flowers with large petals. This plant is a member of the Araceae family and also is found to have fruit that contains raphides, which are sharp-needled pieces of calcium oxalate.
The fruit is edible, but only in the underlying flesh, which has similarities to pineapple. If the fruit is greenish and not ripe, it will be quite irritating to the throat and will cause rashes to the skin due to the potassium oxalate. The fruit can only be safely consumed when the outline scales lift and open up, and it must be left alone to ripen for at least one year. It also contains fibers that must be brushed off before opening and eating the inner part of the ripened fruit. This plant is toxic to dogs; the fruit, leaves, flowers, and stems all contain calcium oxalates and raphides.
Mexican breadfruit poisoning in dogs occurs when dogs ingest any part of the Mexican breadfruit plant. This plant, while very beautiful, contains insoluble calcium oxalates and raphides which are very painful when eaten and cause a myriad of harmful side-effects.
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Symptoms of Mexican Breadfruit Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog has ingested Mexican breadfruit, symptoms will begin almost immediately. Right away he may begin to seem stressed from pain and paw at his face. Symptoms of Mexican breadfruit poisoning in dogs consist of the following:
- Foaming in the mouth
- Oral pain
- Swelling of the facial areas
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Irritation of the skin
Mexican breadfruit is also called a variety of other names. Alternate names for this toxic plant include:
- Swiss cheese
- Hurricane plant
- Fruit salad plant
- Monstera deliciosa
Causes of Mexican Breadfruit Poisoning in Dogs
The causes for toxicity from the Mexican breadfruit plant are the effects of the calcium oxalate crystals. Once your dog bites into this plant, he will begin to have side-effects from this plant’s natural defense. Specific causes include:
- Needle-like calcium oxalate crystals being released upon chewing
- Raphides penetrating the soft tissue and releasing histamines
- Calcium oxalate crystals cause edema due to the histamines
Diagnosis of Mexican Breadfruit Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog has chewed or swallowed Mexican breadfruit, it is very important to call your veterinarian and have your dog examined immediately. It will be helpful if you can take the plant in to the veterinarian visit with you so he can make a quicker diagnosis.
The veterinarian may immediately flush out the mouth and face area to decontaminate your dog from the calcium oxalate crystals. The veterinarian will perform blood testing, urinalysis, and biochemistry profile. He will use these vital tests to check your dog’s blood urea nitrogen, creatinine, and his phosphorus and potassium levels. If the levels are elevated, this will also point to signs of calcium oxalate poisoning. He will also look for glucose and protein levels, he will check your dog’s kidneys for renal damage, and monitor his temperature.
Abnormalities in the renal tubular cells may be evident, and he will also check for casts within the urine. He may even begin to administer IV fluids as soon as possible to rehydrate your dog and promote proper kidney function.
Treatment of Mexican Breadfruit Poisoning in Dogs
The first method of treatment the veterinarian may perform is to decontaminate your dog from the toxic substance. It will be very important to cleanse your dog’s mouth to prevent any further damage to the tissues. Other treatment methods are:
Your dog will be placed on intravenous fluids to aid in hydration and to promote urination. Antihistamines may also be included within these fluids. IV fluids can also restore electrolyte levels.
Your dog may be having trouble breathing due to the nature of this poison. If so, the veterinarian may choose to insert a tube into his esophagus to prevent any asphyxiation due to the nature of the swelling. While this is occurring, oxygen therapy and sedation methods may be administered.
Your medical professional will continue to monitor your dog’s vital signs, including kidney function, body temperature, and inflammation or swelling from any allergic reactions.
Depending on your dog’s poisoning case and the severity, the veterinarian may induce vomiting. This solely depends upon whether your dog will have any risk of asphyxiation due to swelling. The induction of vomiting will help rid the body of the poison and will be done under careful observation. This procedure will be followed up by the administration of activated charcoal to prevent the poison from being absorbed.
Recovery of Mexican Breadfruit Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog received proper medical treatment within a 12 hour time frame, he should recover. Every situation is different, and so are the levels of toxicity. Your veterinarian will want to keep your dog overnight, or possibly a few nights so he can be closely monitored. Once your dog is stable, the veterinarian will release him. Once your dog is home with you, you will need to continue to watch over him. It will be important to follow the veterinarian’s instructions carefully, and contact him if you see any new symptoms. The veterinarian will stay in touch with you and will also schedule follow-up visits to check his prognosis.
Your companion may also be prescribed a very bland diet, especially if the stomach was moderately or severely irritated. This may be in the form of prescription dog food, or simply by suggestions of what to feed him. In order to prevent this from occurring again, look for toxic plants around your home or property and have them removed. If you are unsure of which plants are poisonous to your dog, you may contact your veterinarian, your local ASPCA, or the humane society for information.