What is Peony Poisoning?
Peonies are found in gardens all over North America, other than the deep south where they do not grow well . They are a perennial which thrives in many climates and does not require much care. The plant can bloom for decades if given the right conditions and comes in hundreds of varieties.
Though the peony is a beautiful plant that fills garden spaces with vibrant colors, it does pose a poisonous risk to our pets. Cats, dogs, and horses have been reported to suffer gastrointestinal effects from eating the plant. All parts of the plant will cause the stomach distress, though the main component, paeonol, is concentrated in the roots. Symptoms such as vomiting can lead to more serious issues like dehydration. As is the case with any potentially toxic plant, a veterinary visit is warranted if your pet ingests the peony plant.
The peony plant contains the compound paeonol which is known to be toxic to canines. Gastrointestinal upset can become severe if a large amount of the plant is ingested.
Book First Walk Free!
Symptoms of Peony Poisoning in Dogs
The peony plant is considered to be one that causes mild to moderate signs of poisoning. You may see your pet exhibit the following characteristics of illness if he ingests any part of the peony.
- Stomach pain
- Dehydration if vomiting becomes excessive
The peony belongs to the family Paeoniaceae and is known scientifically as the Paeonis officinalis. The peony is most commonly seen as large bushes in gardens, but has been seen in the wild due to its hardiness and ability to live for decades. The plant can also be found in tree form. This flowering perennial is available in many variations and colors, three examples being:
- Paeonia officinalis Rosea Plena (pink in color)
- Paeonia officinalis Alba Plena (white in color)
- Paeonia officinalis Rubra Plena (red in color)
Causes of Peony Poisoning in Dogs
The compound paeonol and the effects it will bring about when ingested by canines are not well documented. It is known that even though paeonol has pharmaceutical properties in the modern medical field and is also used in traditional Chinese medicine, the peony plant will cause your pet gastrointestinal distress if consumed in large amounts.
Diagnosis of Peony Poisoning in Dogs
If you have an abundance of peony plants in your yard area as many avid gardeners do, you will be aware that the plant has a tendency to droop as the blooms become heavy. This puts this potentially toxic plant within reach of your pets, allowing those who enjoy exploring greenery to sample the plant.
If your dog has the opportunity to consistently eat from the garden he will experience gastrointestinal upset upon ingestion of the peony plant. If you suspect that your dog has eaten from your peony bush or he comes in from the yard and appears unwell, a veterinary visit is in order. You may see pieces of greenery or flowers in and around the mouth area; take the time to remove those before heading to the clinic.
Many pets who ingest the peony will experience mild effects. Often, pets will recover from a mild digestive upset within a day or two but in cases of consumption of a large amount of the peony, vomiting and diarrhea may become excessive. If this is the situation when you bring your pet to the veterinarian, the veterinary team will take the basic vitals of your pet (heart rate, pulse, breathing sounds) and will perform blood work and a urinalysis to determine whether your pet is becoming dehydrated as a result of the gastrointestinal distress. The veterinarian may also do a palpation of the abdominal area to make sure there is not a mass of plant material still in the stomach.
Treatment of Peony Poisoning in Dogs
If the gastrointestinal upset is to the extent that your pet is very ill, the veterinarian may decide to put your dog on an intravenous fluid therapy in order to bring electrolyte levels back to normal. The fluids will also help flush the kidneys and the liver. If there is a mass of plant in the abdomen, medication to help the body eliminate the plant material can be administered through the intravenous. Also, antiemetics will relieve your dog of the vomiting and nausea. Fortunately, most incidences of peony poisoning are of a mild nature. However, aged pets, or those who have underlying illness may feel the effects of toxic plant ingestion more so than a young, healthy animal.
Recovery of Peony Poisoning in Dogs
Once your canine companion is home again, provide him with a quiet place to rest and plenty of water to drink. If the peony ingestion caused only a mild stomach upset, your dog will be back to normal in a day or two. If the ingestion of the peony brought on symptoms relative to gastroenteritis, the veterinarian will have instructions as to dietary advice to be followed during the recovery time.
If your dog is the type who likes to ingest plants and flowers, you may need to fence the area around your peonies. Some pet owners will plant veterinary approved grasses in a safe area of the yard, away from the garden space, to allow some grazing opportunities for pet family members. In some cases, grasses should be planted in indoor containers and the dog trained to eat from this area only, not outside.