What is Plumosa Fern Poisoning?
Ferns cover our earth with their lush greenery and hardiness, and there are thousands of variations of these plants. Many people adorn their homes, both inside and outside, with ferns; they are found in gardens, in businesses, and in many other buildings. They are also found naturally in many climates worldwide.
Although many ferns look very similar, some of them are quite different. Some tolerate a high amount of sun while others only thrive in shaded areas. Most ferns are recognizable by their feathery -shaped leaves and their rich green color. Because there are so many varieties of ferns, it is important to know which ones you should have in your home or in your garden, especially if you have a dog. The plumosa fern, for example, is quite toxic to dogs when ingested, as it contains poisonous saponins that cause harmful side effects.
Plumosa fern poisoning in dogs is a result of dogs consuming the plumosa fern. These ferns contain spheroidal sapogenins which are released upon the chewing of the leaves of the plumosa fern.
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Symptoms of Plumosa Fern Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog has eaten part of a plumosa fern, he will begin to show symptoms rather quickly. The severity of the symptoms will depend on how much he consumed. Symptoms of plumosa fern poisoning are:
- Pain in the abdomen
- Irritation of the skin
- Pawing at the face
There are thousands of species of ferns, as they have inhabited the earth for more than 300 million years. As for the plumosa fern, there are several names that this fern may be called. All of these ferns are toxic to dogs
- Lace fern
- Asparagus fern
- Emerald feather
- Emerald fern
- Racemose asparagus
- Sprengeri fern
Causes of Plumosa Fern Poisoning in Dogs
Causes of plumosa fern poisoning in dogs begin with the ingestion of plant. The saponins will foam once they come into contact with moisture, such as saliva. Once the dog bites into the fern, symptoms begin to develop due to the following:
- Saponins causing toxicity to the cells
- The destruction of red blood cells
- The negatively-charged carbohydrates of the cell surface are affected
- The milky substance is also a skin irritant
Diagnosis of Plumosa Fern Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog ate all or part of a plumosa fern, is important to take him to the veterinarian as soon as possible. If you are able to do so, take a part of the fern with you to the veterinarian so the veterinarian can identify the plant that is causing the poisoning. If you did not see your dog eat the fern, but he is exhibiting the symptoms of poisoning, your veterinarian will look at his clinical signs and run a few tests to determine the method of toxicity.
The veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination, including blood work, a biochemistry profile, and urinalysis. The veterinarian will also be able to notice if your dog has any foaming of the mouth and will immediately rinse out his mouth and decontaminate his facial area.
Your dog may have already vomited on his own due to the toxic components of the saponins, and if he has done so, the veterinarian may want to test the contents of the vomit for any plant material. The veterinarian may also attempt to test his stool to see if any plant material is contained within the fecal matter.
Treatment of Plumosa Fern Poisoning in Dogs
After diagnosing your dog with toxicity from saponins, he will begin treatment as soon as possible. Treatment methods may include:
Decontamination of the harmful sap-like substance around your dog’s face or within his mouth may have already occurred during the diagnosis. It is important to flush out the skin to get rid of the toxin to prevent further irritation.
During the diagnosis, the veterinarian may have induced vomiting to determine the toxic material in the stomach contents. If not, the veterinarian will induce vomiting as a form of treatment to help your dog rid his body of toxicity. This will be followed up the by the administration of activated charcoal to help “soak up” the toxin and prevent it from being absorbed further into your dog’s system.
IV fluids are effective in restoring any electrolyte imbalances and encouraging urination and proper kidney function. If your dog has had an allergic reaction, namely if he is having trouble breathing due to swelling, the IV fluids may also contain an antihistamine. These fluids also prevent dehydration, which is helpful especially if the dog has been vomiting and having diarrhea.
Recovery of Plumosa Fern Poisoning in Dogs
Plumosa fern poisoning, with immediate treatment, has a prognosis of good. In many cases, symptoms begin to disappear within half a day. This depends on the level of toxicity, and will determine whether the veterinarian wants to keep the dog overnight for monitoring.
Once you take your dog home, you will need to follow the instructions from your veterinarian. He will explain to you what to watch for in terms of new symptoms, and may even suggest a bland diet for a few days if your pet’s gastrointestinal tract is still healing.
Follow-up visits will be necessary to be sure your dog is progressing and becoming well again. One suggestion from the veterinarian may be to remove toxic plants from the home, and if you are unsure of plants that are toxic to dogs, he can give you a list or you can contact your ASPCA.