What is Poinsettia Poisoning?
Poinsettia is a bright and colorful red flowering plant and a popular number of the family known as Euphorbiaceae. This pretty holiday plant is native to Central America and Mexico. Poinsettias thrive in wet ravines which are highly populated with trees. They are also found in hilly and rocky areas. When used in the home for decor, the potted plants grow no larger than 1 meter. Tiny yellow clusters of flowers adorn the center of the bright red larger flowers.
Poinsettias are a favored holiday plant and are usually displayed in homes, businesses, churches, and other public buildings around winter holidays, namely Christmas. The stems and leaves contain a milky substance akin to latex which can be irritating when dogs come into contact the substance. Poinsettias, or Euphorbia pulcherrima, have always known to be toxic; however, the level of toxicity of the poinsettia is usually mild to moderate.
Poinsettia poisoning in dogs occurs when dogs consume all or part of the poinsettia plant. This popular holiday plant contains chemicals and saponins that may cause various levels of toxicity.
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Symptoms of Poinsettia Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog has consumed poinsettia, he may develop the following symptoms. The level of severity of the symptoms is relative to the quantity consumed. Symptoms may include:
- Repeatedly licking the lips
- Irritation to the skin, face, lips, or nose
- Red, itchy eyes
The poinsettia plant is often called a variety of names. If you have a decorative plant in your home for the holidays, it is important to know the type and any other name it may go by. Other names for poinsettia include:
- Easter flower
- Christmas flower
- Mexican flame leaf
- Painted leaf
- Étoile de Noël
- Flor de Pascua
- Lobster flower plant
- Fleur Pentecôte
Causes of Poinsettia Poisoning in Dogs
The cause of poinsettia poisoning is from the ingestion of the leaves of the stems of the plant. The diterpenoid euphorbol esters, along with the milky saponins cause toxicity by:
- The irritation of the phorbol esters
- The altering of enzymes and protein functions
- The promotion of tumor formation
- Co-carcinogenic diterpenoids cause irritation released by the esters
- Damage to the cytoskeletal system
Diagnosis of Poinsettia Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog has ingested any part of the poinsettia plant, call your veterinarian immediately. In many cases, Poinsettia plant poisoning is mild to moderate and not life-threatening. However, veterinary treatment is crucial. When you go into the veterinarian’s office, take with you part or all of the plant so he may be able to make a faster diagnosis. If you are unsure if your dog ingested the Poinsettia, yet is showing the symptoms above, you may still want to take the plant with you. The veterinarian is highly trained in the areas of plant toxicity, and even if you are unsure he will be able to make a diagnosis with testing and observing his symptoms.
If your dog has not already self-vomited, your veterinarian may administer an emetic so that he may test the stomach contents. If your dog vomited at home or in the veterinarian office, he may use that substance for his testing. The veterinarian will also do bloodwork, urinalysis, and a biochemistry profile to check for organ function. The medical professional will be looking for abnormal levels of proteins and enzymes, and may also choose to take samples of soft tissue to test for the toxins.
Another way the veterinarian can test for poinsettia toxicity is to examine your dog’s face, skin, and any other fur on his body. The physician will be looking for samples of the milky latex -like sap that is found in the poinsettia leaves and flowers. If there is any sap on your dog’s exterior, he will decontaminate the dog by flushing with water and using a mild detergent to wash the dog.
Treatment of Poinsettia Poisoning in Dogs
Treatment of poinsettia poisoning depends on the amount of toxicity your dog is suffering from. Poinsettias have a reputation for being deadly, and this is not the case unless your dog has consumed a very large quantity of the plant. Treatment methods may include:
The sap from poinsettia is quite irritating to the fur, eyes, and exterior skin. It can also be irritating to the mouth area. The veterinarian will take proper measures to decontaminate your companion from any of the sap that has come from the plant. He may also need to use ointment that will help calm the histamines from the sap.
IV fluids may be given to keep the dog hydrated, especially if he has been vomiting or suffering from diarrhea. IV fluids also encourage urination and proper kidney function. These fluids also help with the stabilization of proteins and enzymes.
The induction of vomiting helps to eliminate the toxic contents of the stomach. The induction of vomiting may also be followed by the administration of activated charcoal. Activated charcoal is effective in absorbing the phorbol esters and preventing them from being absorbed by the stomach and gastrointestinal tract.
The veterinarian will keep a watchful eye over your companion and observe him for any allergic reactions. An antihistamine may be continued in order for your dog to become stable. Fluids will help him tremendously in his recovery. He may need to stay overnight or for a few nights in order to get well again.
Recovery of Poinsettia Poisoning in Dogs
Each dog responds to poinsettia poisoning differently and treatment and recovery will vary. In many cases, the prognosis is good once he receives the treatment he needs. Once he comes home with you, you will be given specific instructions on how to care for your dog during his continued recovery.
A bland diet may be recommended by the medical professional in case your dog is continuing to recover from an upset gastrointestinal system. The veterinarian will want to have follow-up visits with your companion to be sure he is positively recovering. To prevent future poisoning, check the plants around your home to be sure there are no other poinsettias or toxic plants that can be dangerous to any of your animals. If you are not able to identify all plants to determine if they are toxic, you can take them into your veterinarian or contact your Humane Society or ASPCA for more information.
Poinsettia Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
cassie started scratching could not figure why no fleas and no skin allergies so someone told me it might be my poisettas plant that i had bought for Christmas
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