What is Moss Rose Poisoning?
The moss rose blooms in the summer with vivid colors of pink, yellow, purple, white, red, orange, and pink. It is a short ground cover (4-6 inches tall) that can even grow in rock gardens because it needs little water and soil. This South American native is an annual, but may reseed so it continues to produce blooms over the years and is fond of hot, dry weather. Some of the common names for the moss rose are 9 o’clock and 11 o’clock because they bloom around nine in the morning and start closing up after noon. The toxins in the moss rose are soluble calcium oxalates, which means that the toxin is absorbed into the bloodstream, making them more dangerous than insoluble calcium oxalates.
Moss rose poisoning is a serious condition that is precipitated by the consumption of a Moss rose plant. The foliage is the most toxic, although it is suspected that all parts of the moss rose are poisonous. Drooling, muscle spasms, irregular heartbeat, and kidney damage are some of the common symptoms of moss rose poisoning in dogs. The soluble calcium oxalates in the plant are easily absorbed into your dog’s blood, so the faster you get treatment, the better your pet’s chance of a full recovery.
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Symptoms of Moss Rose Poisoning in Dogs
Depending on the amount of moss rose your pet consumed, the side effects can range from mild to life-threatening. In some cases, if your dog is healthy and only eats a small amount, a bit of stomach irritation may be the only symptom you notice. However, in most cases, the oxalates in the bloodstream will migrate to other parts of the body and can cause side effects several days later. The most often reported signs of moss rose poisoning are:
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Heart palpitations
- Muscle spasms or tremors
- Kidney failure (loss of appetite, blood in the urine, difficulty urinating)
The scientific name for moss rose is Portulaca grandiflora of the Portulacaceae family. Some other common names of the moss rose are:
- 9 o’clock flower
- After noon flower
- Eleven o'clock
- Mexican rose
- Moss-rose purslane
- Rock moss
- Rock rose
- Rose moss
- Sun rose
- Time flower
- Wild portulaca
Causes of Moss Rose Poisoning in Dogs
The toxic substances in the moss rose are soluble calcium oxalates. This type of oxalate is absorbed into the blood rapidly and contains oxalic acid, potassium, and sodium, which bind with the magnesium and calcium. The lack of calcium available in the bloodstream affects the electrical activity of the muscles, heart, and brain.
Diagnosis of Moss Rose Poisoning in Dogs
To determine whether your dog has moss rose poisoning, the veterinarian will first need to know all the details, including what and how much your dog ate and approximately what time it happened. If you are able to get a sample of the plant or a picture, that can be helpful with diagnosis and treatment planning. Another way to help the diagnosis is to bring a copy of your pet’s vaccination and medical reports. Be sure to tell the veterinarian if your dog is on any medications.
A physical examination will be done to check your pet’s weight, height, reflexes, body temperature, coat and skin condition, blood pressure, breath sounds, oxygen saturation levels, pulse, and respiration rate. Afterward, some laboratory tests will be done, which include blood count, chemical profile, liver enzyme panel, glucose level, and urinalysis. Abnormalities include increased potassium, phosphorus, creatinine, and blood urea nitrogen (BUN). Low blood sugar is common as well as high levels of parathyroid hormones PTH. The urinalysis will show isosthenuria, excess glucose, protein, and casts. Abdominal x-rays will be used to detect obstructions and check kidney function. If a closer look is necessary, the veterinarian may perform an ultrasound, MRI, or CT scan.
Treatment of Moss Rose Poisoning in Dogs
Similar to other types of poisonings, the treatment will depend on the symptoms, test results, and overall health of your dog. With moss rose poisoning, the veterinarian will want to get the toxic properties out of your dog’s system and then treat any symptoms caused by these toxins. Evacuation, detoxification, medication, and observation is the most common protocol for this situation.
The veterinarian will most likely give your dog ipecac or a peroxide solution to encourage emesis (vomiting). After your dog vomits, activated charcoal will be given by mouth to absorb any undigested toxins.
Detoxing your pet starts with a gastric lavage, which is done by using a flexible tube to gently push warm saline into the digestive tract. This will force out any plant particles or residue from the stomach and intestines. Intravenous (IV) fluids will be given to flush the kidneys and prevent dehydration.
Antiemesis medication may be given to control vomiting and diuretics to reduce the fluid buildup caused by depressed kidney function.
Your veterinarian will probably want to keep your dog overnight for observation and to give supportive treatment if necessary.
Recovery of Moss Rose Poisoning in Dogs
If treatment was given right away, chances of a full recovery are good. However, if your pet ate a large amount of moss rose plants, more treatment may be required for kidney damage or other complications. Be sure to keep your follow up appointments and call your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns as your pet recuperates.