What is Plantain Lily Poisoning?
The plantain lily is a popular houseplant and is also grown outside in warm climates. This herbaceous evergreen perennial can grow up to about four feet high and six feet wide, with large waxy oval leaves. Some types are solid green, but they can also be mixed with yellow or white. The purple, lavender, or white flowers are tall and pendulous with six petals about two inches long. The plantain lily is a beautiful plant, but can be very toxic to your dog, causing skin and stomach irritation as well as damage to the red blood cells in some cases. The side effects depend on how much of the plantain lily that your dog consumed, but it can be fatal in large doses.
Plantain lily poisoning is usually mild, but can be moderate or even severe if enough of the plant is ingested. The amount of toxins in the plant varies from plant to plant, but they are generally low in toxicity unless a great deal is eaten. The poison in the plantain lily is saponin, which is a glycoside that has the ability to foam when mixed with fluids.
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Symptoms of Plantain Lily Poisoning in Dogs
Although the amount of saponins in the plantain lily are relatively low, if your dog eats enough, the side effects can be severe. Saponins are known for their foaming properties, so the first sign you notice may be foaming at the mouth or nose. Some of the other side effects are:
- Burning and inflammation of mucous membranes (mouth and gastrointestinal system)
- Redness of the mouth, tongue, and lips
- Abdominal pain
- Appetite loss
- Loss of weight
- Weakness and listlessness
- Stiff posture
- Coma (only with large consumption)
- Death (only with large consumption)
The Latin name for the plantain lily is the Hosta plantaginea of the Asparagaceae family. The plantain lily is also known by several other names and has many different varieties, which are:
- August lily
- Fragrant lily
Causes of Plantain Lily Poisoning in Dogs
The cause of plantain lily poisoning are saponins, which are glycosides that are found in many plant species. They have a foaming ability that causes gastrointestinal irritation in dogs who have consumed part of a plantain lily. Saponins are strong hemolytics that are capable of causing the destruction of red blood cells.
Diagnosis of Plantain Lily Poisoning in Dogs
It is helpful if you bring a photo or a sample of the plant that your dog was eating to show the veterinarian. This can be extremely beneficial to the team when deciding on a treatment plan. You will also need to describe what happened; how much of the plant your dog consumed and what symptoms you have noticed. Bringing your pet’s medical records can be a big help as well, and be sure to tell the veterinarian if your dog is on any medication. Even if it is just an over the counter medicine, it could alter the symptoms your dog has shown and may interact with whatever treatment the veterinarian decides on.
The first thing done will be an examination of your pet’s overall health, coat, and skin condition. The veterinarian will also check your dog’s heart rate, lung sounds, blood pressure, temperature, body weight and height, reflexes, respirations, and oxygen level. An endoscope will be used to get a good view of your pet’s throat and airway to look for inflammation and blockages. If there are any plant particles, the veterinarian will be able to insert a tool into the endoscope and remove whatever is there. Your dog will be under sedation during the procedure for safety reasons.
In addition, some laboratory testing will be needed, such as a urinalysis, blood count, liver enzyme panel, PCV (packed cell volume), BUN (blood urea nitrogen), and a chemical analysis to determine the levels of nitrogen, phosphorous, creatinine, potassium, albumin, protein, and bilirubin. Also, to look for inflammation and obstructions, x-rays (digital radiographs) and an ultrasound will be done. If necessary, an MRI or CT scan will be performed as well.
Treatment of Plantain Lily Poisoning in Dogs
Treating plantain lily poisoning usually depends on the results of the laboratory tests, physical examination, and the symptoms your dog is experiencing. In most cases, the first thing the veterinarian will want to do is to get the poisons out of your pet’s system with evacuation and detoxification steps. Afterward, the veterinarian will administer medications if needed. Your dog will probably not need to be hospitalized unless there are complications.
To make sure all of the toxins are gone, the veterinarian will administer an emetic such as ipecac. Activated charcoal will then be given by mouth to absorb any toxins that have not been digested yet.
Intravenous fluids will be given to flush your pet’s kidneys. This also helps to rehydrate your dog from the diarrhea and vomiting.
The medications that may be administered are ranitidine to calm the gastric irritation, prednisone for inflammation and pain, and antiemetics to stop the vomiting.
Recovery of Plantain Lily Poisoning in Dogs
You will need to continue to observe your dog closely for the first 24 hours to watch for any signs of complications such as fever, severe abdominal pain, vomiting, or diarrhea. If you have any questions about the rate of recovery, call your veterinarian for advice.