What is Pinks Poisoning?
Pinks are a very popular perennial flower with small gray leaves and one large flowering head per stem that can grow to over three feet tall. The flowers come in any color imaginable, but the most common are pink, red, and white. The leaves contain glycosides called triterpenoid saponins that can cause a foaming in the digestive tract and stomach, triggering gastrointestinal irritation. This usually leads to vomiting and diarrhea.
Pinks poisoning in dogs is a mild to moderate condition that usually causes gastric upset and maybe irritation of the skin. The most dangerous side effect of pinks poisoning is the damage done to the red blood cells by the triterpenoid saponins in the foliage and stem. This damage is able to cause the cell membrane to be destroyed. This allows the hemoglobin to leak into your dog’s bloodstream and may lead to anemia, lack of protein absorption, and insufficient oxygen flow. All of these issues can cause their own symptoms, such as extreme tiredness and sleeping more than usual.
Book First Walk Free!
Symptoms of Pinks Poisoning in Dogs
The signs of pinks poisoning in dogs vary depending on the amount eaten and the health and age of your pet. There are several toxins in the flowers and stems that are unidentified at this time so there may be many more side effects than what is listed here. However, the common symptoms are:
- Lack of appetite
- Skin irritation
- Itching of the skin
- Burning of the mouth and throat
- Loss of protein leading to weight loss
- Leaking of hemoglobin into the bloodstream
- Muscle weakness
- Rapid heart rate
- Coma (rare)
- Death (rare)
The scientific name for pinks is Dianthus caryophyllus from the Caryophyllaceae family. This flower is one of the most commonly cultivated plants in the United States. They are believed to have originated in the Mediterranean area, but that is not for sure because of how often it has been cultivated. It is also known by a few other names, such as:
- Mother’s Day plant
- Sweet William
Causes of Pinks Poisoning in Dogs
There are believed to be several poisonous substances in pinks that are unknown. What is known is that triterpenoid saponins contained in the plant are glycoside triterpenes, which are a kind of terpene. In humans, these saponins can be beneficial because of the anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and antibacterial effects, but they are toxic to dogs. The foaming properties cause gastric distress and the rupture of red blood cells.
Diagnosis of Pinks Poisoning in Dogs
To aid in the diagnosis of your dog, it is helpful if you can bring a sample of the pinks plant or a photograph to show the veterinarian. This will help in identifying the toxic agent that may be causing your pet’s symptoms. Even if there are no symptoms, you should still take your dog to see a veterinary professional in order to make sure there will be no lasting complications. Give the veterinarian as much information as you can about what your dog ate and how much of it was consumed. Also, list the side effects that you have seen in your dog, if there are any, and be sure to tell the veterinarian if your pet is on any kind of medication. This includes both over the counter and prescription drugs because they may mask some of the symptoms or negatively interact with the treatment.
The veterinarian will do a complete physical examination of your dog, which usually includes coat and skin condition, pulse, weight, height, reflexes, breath sounds, blood pressure, respiration rate, and oxygen level.
In addition, an endoscopy is helpful in getting a closer look at your dog’s throat and removing any plant particles or other obstructions. This is done using a long flexible tube while your dog is under sedation. Abdominal x-rays will also be done to see if there are any blockages further down and to detect any abnormal swelling or other conditions. The veterinarian will also need to do some laboratory tests, including CBC (complete blood count), urinalysis, blood chemistry profile, BUN (blood urea nitrogen), PCV (packed cell volume), and liver enzyme panel.
Treatment of Pinks Poisoning in Dogs
Treatment depends on the severity of the symptoms and health of your pet. In most cases, the way to treat pinks poisoning is evacuation, detoxification, medications, and observation.
Your pet will be given an emetic (peroxide or ipecac) to promote vomiting of the undigested plant remains. Activated charcoal will also be given to your dog to absorb any remaining toxins.
This step includes a gastric lavage to rinse away any leftover plant residue or poisons in the digestive tract and intravenous (IV) fluids for flushing the kidneys. This also helps rehydrate your dog from the vomiting and diarrhea.
The veterinarian may administer stomach protectants, antiemetics, and electrolytes to replenish your pet’s system.
The veterinarian may suggest hospitalization for observation, but this is usually not necessary in pinks poisoning.
Recovery of Pinks Poisoning in Dogs
You will be allowed to take your companion home after the veterinarian feels the toxins have been completely eliminated and your dog is stable. Recommendations may be made to feed your pet a bland diet for the next several days as his gastrointestinal system recovers. It is important that you follow the instructions your veterinarian gives you about the prescriptions and follow-up visit. Feel free to call your veterinary caregiver if you have any questions or concerns about your canine’s recovery.