What is Narcissus Poisoning?
The narcissus plant is a common spring time flower found in many gardens. It grows from a bulb into a vibrant yellow flower adding a pop of color to many homes. This plant, while nice to look at, is toxic to your dog; eating the plant can lead to very serious signs of poisoning. He can suffer mild poisoning symptoms, such as gastrointestinal upset or severe symptoms like liver damage or death. If your dog ingested a part of the narcissus plant, alert your veterinarian as soon as possible. The sooner you get him veterinary care, the higher his chances of recovery. Do not wait for signs of illness before taking action.
The narcissus plant, more commonly known as the daffodil, is a well known spring time flower. This flower, while aesthetically pleasing, is extremely toxic to your dog if he ingests it. If you see your dog ingest this plant, you need to contact your veterinarian immediately.
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Symptoms of Narcissus Poisoning in Dogs
Symptoms of narcissus poisoning may vary depending on how much he ingested. Symptoms include
- Tissue injury
- Contact dermatitis
- Abdominal pain
- Low blood pressure
- Cardiac arrhythmias
- Abnormal breathing
- Liver damage
Symptoms can be categorized from mild to severe. If your dog ingests part of the narcissus plant, take him to a veterinarian immediately.
The narcissus is a plant belonging to the Amaryllidaceae family and the genus narcissus. This plant produces yellow or white flowers of a ’trumpet’ shape on top of a long hollow stem. There are multiple species in the narcissus genus all looking relatively similar. The narcissus is known by other common names such as daffodil, paper white, jonquils, and spring bulbs.
Causes of Narcissus Poisoning in Dogs
The bulb of the narcissus plant contains the most toxins. All parts of the plant are toxic when ingested by your dog, but the bulb contains the highest concentration. The narcissus plant produces the toxins lycorine, narcissine, narcipoeitin, and possibly other alkaloids. The alkaloid crystals can lead to tissue damage in your dog’s mouth and possibly within the gastrointestinal tract. Lycorine has a strong emetic property which is why vomiting is a common symptom of narcissus poisoning.
Diagnosis of Narcissus Poisoning in Dogs
When you arrive at the veterinarian’s office, she will begin by performing a physical exam on your dog. She will note the symptoms your dog is suffering and assess his vitals. Laboratory work will be performed to see how your dog is handling the toxin internally. Basic blood work may consist of a complete blood count (CBC), chemistry panel, and a packed cell volume (PCV). The CBC and chemistry panel will provide the veterinarian with a baseline reference of how each internal organ is functioning. The PCV will assess his hydration status. A urinalysis may be performed to offer more information about how the kidneys are functioning.
If your dog is vomiting at the veterinarian’s office, she will examine the contents for any clues as to what your dog ingested. If he is not vomiting, she may induce vomiting to rid the stomach of any remaining plant particles. If your dog is having diarrhea, a fecal sample will be collected and tested to rule out internal parasites or bacterial overgrowth.
If your dog is experiencing abdominal pain, a radiograph may be taken to check for any type of blockage or abnormality. The radiograph will also allow the veterinarian to take a closer look at the heart and lungs to see if your dog is experiencing any cardiac or respiratory issues. The veterinarian may want to perform an ultrasound or an ECG as another form of assessment of the heart. If you suspect or witness your dog ingesting this plant, take it with you to the veterinarian’s office. This will allow for correct identification of the plant and the toxin it produces.
Treatment of Narcissus Poisoning in Dogs
The course of treatment for narcissus poisoning will be determined by the symptoms your dog is experiencing. If your dog is experiencing respiratory problems, he will be started on oxygen support immediately. If he is having mild respiratory distress, he may receive oxygen via flow by or may be placed in an oxygen cage. If he is suffering severe respiratory distress, the veterinarian may have to intubate and keep him on oxygen via intubation until he stabilizes.
Fluid therapy with electrolytes will be started quickly after arrival to correct for any dehydration your dog is experiencing and to prevent it from worsening. Also, the fluids will flush the toxins from his body systems quicker resulting in a shortened recovery time. If your dog is vomiting uncontrollably without producing substance, the veterinarian may administer an antiemetic to offer him some relief. Activated charcoal may be administered to bind any remaining toxins present in his gastrointestinal tract to avoid further absorption by his body system.
Additional supportive medications may be given depending on your dog’s needs. If he is having seizures, an anti-seizure medication will be given. If his blood pressure is too low, the veterinarian may administer a medication to raise it to a safe level. Any type of tissue injury or contact dermatitis will be cleaned and a medicinal cream or ointment may be applied to the area.
Recovery of Narcissus Poisoning in Dogs
The amount of narcissus bulb that was ingested will play a major role in your dog’s recovery. If only a small amount was ingested and mild symptoms of toxicity have developed, prognosis of a full recovery is good. If he ingested a large amount or is suffering severe symptoms, the prognosis becomes guarded.
If your dog is suffering gastrointestinal upset, he will do very well with supportive care. If your dog ingested a large amount or is experiencing any of the more severe symptoms, you must seek veterinary care immediately. Any time the heart or respiratory system is in distress, veterinary intervention is required. Also, if your dog experiences any type of liver damage, there is no cure or any means to correct it.
If you have this plant in your garden, do not let your dog have access to it. If you just planted the bulbs, keep the area fenced off to prevent him digging them up and ingesting them. If you have the bulbs stored somewhere in your garage or greenhouse, be sure to keep them out of your dog’s reach. Even if your dog is usually not a plant eater, it would be best to monitor him while he is around this plant, just in case.