What is Naked Lady Poisoning?
The naked lady (Amaryllis belladonna) is a large, brightly colored flower native to Africa. Poisonings can occur from the consumption of any part of the plant, although the highest concentrations of the alkaloids are generally found in the bulb of the plant. If your pet consumes material from the tulip plant, it is important to contact a veterinarian for further instructions. The plant contains the toxin lycorine and several additional alkaloids that can cause gastrointestinal distress in small to moderate amounts and cardiac abnormalities and seizures at higher doses.
The naked lady flower is a beautiful addition to many homes and gardens, but it the alkaloids found in these plants can cause gastrointestinal distress and cardiac abnormalities.
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Symptoms of Naked Lady Poisoning in Dogs
The symptoms of poisoning by plants from the Hippeastrum family generally start within just a few hours from ingestion. They are usually limited to the gastrointestinal signs unless copious amounts are eaten. These symptoms can include:
- Abdominal pain
- Cardiac arrhythmias
- Excessive drooling
- Loss of appetite
- Low blood pressure
- Sudden death
The bulb of the naked lady is not the only flower bulb that contains dangerous toxins. Although the highest concentrations of the toxins in these plants are found in the bulbs, the compounds are located throughout the entire plant. Other plant bulbs that can be hazardous to your pet include:
- Autumn Crocus - Toxic component, colchicine
- Crinum bulb - Toxic component, galantamine
- Daffodil bulb - Toxic component, lycorine
- Gladiola bulb - Unknown toxic component
- Hyacinths bulb - Toxic component, tuliposide A
- Narcissus bulb - Toxic components, lycorine, galantamine, and scillitoxin
- Onion bulb - Toxic component, thiosulphate
- Oxbane bulb - Toxic component, buphanidrine
- Tulip bulb - Toxic component, lycorine, tuliposide A.
Causes of Naked Lady Poisoning in Dogs
There are several dangerous alkaloids contained in the naked lady plant, as well as the toxin Lycorine. The best-known poisons in the plant include:
- Galantamine - This alkaloid has been researched as a treatment for mild Alzheimer’s and other memory impairments due to its acetylcholinesterase inhibiting properties, becoming toxic due to its interference with the parasympathetic nervous system
- Lycorine - Lycorine is toxic due to its ability to inhibit protein synthesis within the body
- Tazettine - This alkaloid is known to by hypotensive, and can reduce the blood pressure to a dangerously low level
Diagnosis of Naked Lady Poisoning in Dogs
If your pet ate a plant bulb and you are uncertain of the type of plant it belongs to, take your pet as well as a sample of any remaining bulb or plant material to your veterinarian or the nearest animal emergency clinic to ensure a swifter identification for treatment. If you didn’t observe the consumption of the plant, your dog’s doctor will gather information from you regarding any opportunistic eating that you might suspect as well as any concurrent supplements or prescriptions that your dog is taking. This is done in an attempt to reveal which toxin is responsible for the reaction and to verify any drug interactions that may affect the treatment plan. A urinalysis will also be used to this end, as will a complete blood count and biochemistry profile, with particular attention being paid to results regarding liver and kidney functionality. Any plant material found in the vomit will help confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment of Naked Lady Poisoning in Dogs
Preliminary treatments will be dependent how long it has been since the bulb or other plant material, was ingested, and what symptoms have surfaced. If your dog ate one of the bulbs or if large amounts of the leaves or flowers were ingested, he will need to be admitted to the veterinary hospital for decontamination and supportive treatments. If the naked lady plant was consumed within the last few hours, your veterinarian will most likely choose to induce vomiting to prevent the absorption of the toxins into the bloodstream, and activated charcoal will be administered in an attempt to absorb as much of the harmful components as possible. If it has been several hours since consumption, a gastric irrigation under anesthesia may be more efficient in removing as much of the material from the patient’s stomach as possible.
There is no known antidote to the alkaloids or lycorine, so treatment beyond decontamination is generally supportive, including IV fluids for dehydration as well as mixtures of electrolytes and sugars to adjust for any imbalances that develop. If breathing becomes difficult, then oxygen will be administered to the dog as well, and the heart will be carefully monitored.
Recovery of Naked Lady Poisoning in Dogs
The prognosis for poisoning by the naked lady plant depends on the size of the dog, the amount ingested, and how speedily treatment is sought. When severe reactions occur, your pet may require a stay at the veterinary clinic for supportive therapy and monitoring. Although most symptoms of poisoning will dissipate after about 24 hours, a dog that is still recovering from anesthesia, as would be required for gastric irrigation, may have coordination difficulties when he first gets home He may be disoriented and confused, and isolation from children or other pets may be advisable until both the toxic compounds and the sedatives have fully cleared your companion’s system. In some circumstances, your veterinarian may recommend further monitoring of blood chemistry levels for your pet, particularly in relation to liver and kidney functionality or impairment.