What is Portulaca Poisoning?
Portulaca is considered an annoying weed in many parts of the world. This plant takes over many areas and when disturbed, such as when you try to remove it, it reseeds itself and a whole new generation is planted. Many people who look for natural plants to add to their diet discovered they can cook the portulaca and eat it. However, this should never be offered to your dog. In dogs, portulaca leads to a metabolic imbalance and kidney failure. If you believe your dog ingested any amount of the portulaca plant, get him to a veterinarian as soon as possible. If you do not, kidney failure may develop and lead to his death.
If your dog ingests portulaca, you need to treat it as a medical emergency. Kidney failure can develop and can lead to possible cause of death if veterinary care is not sought out.
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Symptoms of Portulaca Poisoning in Dogs
Symptoms of portulaca poisoning may be hard detect. Symptoms may include:
- Metabolic imbalance
- Kidney failure
Portulaca is a plant native to India and Persia. It has spread throughout the world as an edible plant as well as a weed. This plant produces yellow flowers and succulent type leaves and stems. When disturbed or when people attempt to remove it from an area, it reseeds itself leading to a new generation to be grown in the area. This is what makes the plant so difficult to eliminate entirely. It is known by the other common names of wild portulaca, purslane, pusley, rock moss, and moss rose. Portulaca belongs to the Portulacaceae family with the scientific name of Portulaca oleracea.
Causes of Portulaca Poisoning in Dogs
Portulaca contains soluble calcium oxalates. Soluble oxalates are composed of potassium and sodium salts of oxalic acid in the forms of crystals that dissolve once it comes into contact with the moisture of the mouth. Once ingested, the oxalates are quickly absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract leading to symptoms of toxicity.
Diagnosis of Portulaca Poisoning in Dogs
When you first arrive at the veterinarian’s office, she will begin by collecting a history from you. Tell her everything your dog could have possibly come into contact with or ingested within the past 24 hours so as to give her a clue as to what is poisoning your dog. She will also perform a physical exam to check your dog’s vitals and note any abnormalities. This will also allow her a thorough look over your dog to evaluate all of his symptoms.
The veterinarian will want to perform blood work to give her needed information on how your dog’s internal organs are functioning. A complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry panel are usually the first tests to be run to give her a general diagnostic view of all the organs. Since kidney failure is a major concern with portulaca poisoning, she may want to run more detailed diagnostic tests that evaluate the kidneys. She may also want to collect a urine sample for a urinalysis to check other levels of kidney function such as filtering ability and efficiency.
In addition to these tests, the veterinarian may want to take a radiograph of your dog’s abdomen to check for any abnormality of an internal organ, especially the kidneys and remaining urinary system. If the radiograph is not helpful, she may want to do an ultrasound to have a different view of them.
Treatment of Portulaca Poisoning in Dogs
If your veterinarian suspects a toxin but is not sure, she may administer activated charcoal. This will bind to the toxin and prevent the body from absorbing more. It will also act as a protective layer for the gastrointestinal tract to prevent irritation and damage.
Your dog will be started on intravenous fluids to flush the toxin from his system quickly and safely. This will also flush fluids through your dog’s system continuously and will ensure his bladder and kidneys are forced to continue to work. Vitamins B and C may be given with the fluids to give the immune system an extra boost.
If you suspect your dog ingested this plant but are unsure of what it is, take it with you to the veterinarians office. She or a member of her staff may know exactly what plant it is. This will allow the veterinarian to know what toxin she is dealing with then treating your dog. A quicker diagnosis means a quicker treatment plan put into place and started.
Recovery of Portulaca Poisoning in Dogs
Other than offering supportive therapies and medications, there isn’t much more the veterinarian can do for your dog in cases of portulaca toxicity. Once ingested, you have to wait for it to leave your dog’s system and offer him support as he needs it. If kidney failure develops, there is no way to correct it and it will ultimately be the cause of death for your dog.
Due to the dangers associated with the pothos plant it is recommended you do not have this plant anywhere in or around your home. The risk to your dog is not worth having the plant. While some sources say this is an edible plant, they are discussing how it is edible for people, not dogs. Do not offer your dog this plant if you eat it yourself. The best form of treatment in any and all toxicity cases is prevention.