What is Poinciana Poisoning?
The poinciana tree is a vivid, flowering tree also known as Delonix regia. It is adorned with leaves that have the appearance of fern greenery and has flowers of red and orange hues. It belongs to the family Fabaceae and is grown in many parts of the world, namely warmer climates.
This ornamental tree is often called the royal poinciana and can grow anywhere where the weather is warm and reaches anywhere between eight and twenty feet in height. In addition to the flowers, it is adorned with brownish-like pods which make a specific rattling sound on windy days. Many warmer communities plant this beautiful tree, as it makes a nice accent when paired with other foliage. Native to the country Madagascar, this colorful tree is toxic when consumed. The leaves and flowers contain hydrogen cyanide and the pods contain tannins, both of which can cause various side effects to dogs when consumed.
Poinciana poisoning in dogs occurs when poinciana is ingested. poinciana contains hydrogen cyanide, which is toxic to dogs and can cause moderate to severe side-effects, depending on the amount consumed.
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Symptoms of Poinciana Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog has eaten the leaves or flowers of the poinciana tree, he may exhibit a few or all of the following symptoms. Symptoms include:
- Pawing at the mouth
- Confusion when walking
- Difficulty when swallowing
Poinciana, or royal poinciana, has a variety of different names. All of these trees, despite their different monikers, are toxic to dogs. Alternate names include:
- Bird of paradise
- Pride of Barbados
- Barbados pride
- Peacock flower
- Poinciana gilliesii
- Caesalpinia gilliesii
Causes of Poinciana Poisoning in Dogs
Causes of poinciana poisoning in dogs occur when dogs consume parts of the foliage of the tree. This tree uses hydrogen cyanide as its natural defense against herbivores. Specific causes of poinciana poisoning are:
- The levels of hydrogen cyanide they contain
- The decreasing or halting of the use of oxygen within the cells
- Asphyxiation from lack of oxygen
Diagnosis of Poinciana Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog has consumed poinciana, is important to take him to the veterinarian as soon as you can. It will be very helpful to the veterinarian if you can take a sample of the tree, namely the flowering part or stem, to the veterinarian. The veterinarian will ask you questions concerning when he ate the poinciana and how much you believe he may have eaten.
Your veterinarian will immediately perform tests, such as blood work, urinalysis, and biochemistry profile. If the blood test revealed more than 3 mcg / mL of cyanide, it will be important to begin treatment immediately. Treatment will depend on the level of toxicity and the side effects that your loved one is suffering from.
The veterinarian may also take specimens of the fluid within the stomach. Emesis is not recommended due to the gas of the hydrogen cyanide, so the veterinarian will need to gather the contents of the stomach by a method known as trocarization. He will wear safety goggles and gear to protect himself and others in the room will need to do the same due to the extremity of the cyanide gas. He will then place a tube into the dog through the esophagus and collect the specimen from the stomach. He may also choose to test the tissue from the stomach and the liver for diagnostic purposes, as well as treatment purposes. During the diagnostic process, your dog may be given oxygen therapy and possibly be sedated to help keep him calm.
Treatment of Poinciana Poisoning in Dogs
To begin, the veterinarian may immediately give your dog an antidote to counteract the poisoning. This antidote may be sodium nitrate or sodium thiosulfate. Other treatment methods may include:
The veterinarian may add Fe3 via intravenous injection into your dog’s hemoglobin. Other IV fluids will also be given to help stabilize your dog, and may include nitrates and electrolytes. IV fluids are beneficial to prevent any dehydration and to promote urination via the kidneys.
Oxygen therapy will be given to help your dog maintain proper oxygen levels within the blood, and the veterinarian may also add the inhalation of nitrates as well. Oxygen therapy may have already been begun when your dog arrived at the veterinarian for the diagnosis.
Rhodanese and thiocyanate assist in the detoxification of dogs that have been poisoned with hydrogen cyanide. These antidotes are also known as sodium thiosulfate and sodium nitrate. Any other antidotes which are recently being studied may be used for detoxification, if decided by the medical professional.
With these methods of treatment, your dog may be hospitalized for at least a few days, if not longer. Every dog is unique, and this depends on the level of poisoning in which he may be suffering from.
Recovery of Poinciana Poisoning in Dogs
Hydrogen cyanide poisoning from poinciana can be very serious, if not lethal, if treatment does not occur immediately. If your dog received rapid treatment and positively responded to the treatment by your veterinarian, the prognosis is moderate to guarded.
Your veterinarian will determine when your dog is able to return home. Due to the severity of this poisoning, it will be very important to monitor your dog carefully and watch for any new symptoms he may develop. If you see any symptoms that are of concern, it is important to contact your veterinarian. Your medical professional will want to see your dog several times after you have taken him home. He may administer more tests just to be sure his body is clear of the toxic chemical.
If your veterinarian has suggested a special diet for your dog, at least temporarily, it will be important to follow his directions. This diet may be a bland diet as recommended by your veterinarian, or a prescription diet. For future prevention, take note of the plants and trees in and around your home to be sure none of them are toxic. If you have any toxic trees left on your property, be sure to always monitor your dog when he is outdoors.