What is Pothos Poisoning?
Pothos is known by many different names. Because of this, it can be confusing when discussing or trying to identify it. Luckily, this plant has a unique look, making it easier to identify by sight versus name. The leaves are a combination or yellow and green with the green outlining the yellow. If you witness your dog chewing on or ingesting this plant, he will develop symptoms related to pain and irritation of the mouth. In cases of pothos toxicity, most dogs recover well with supportive therapies alone. However, if you wait too long to receive veterinary care, crystal formation in the urine may develop which can lead to other medical issues. The sooner you seek veterinary attention, the higher his chances of a full, uncomplicated recovery.
The pothos plant can cause complications for your pet ranging from mild (irritation of the lips) to severe (breathing difficulties due to a swollen tongue). The pothos plant is easily recognized by sight due to the distinct markings on its leaves. If you witness your dog ingesting this plant, contact your veterinarian immediately.
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Symptoms of Pothos Poisoning in Dogs
Symptoms of pothos poisoning develop almost immediately after your dog chews on or bites into this plant. Symptoms include:
- Pawing at the mouth
- Irritation of the eyes
- Irritation of the mouth
- Irritation of the lips
- Irritation of the tongue
- Excessive drooling
- Foaming at the mouth
- Oral inflammation
- Difficulty swallowing
- Respiratory distress
- Calcium oxalate crystalluria
The pothos plant goes by many common names that get used interchangeable depending on what each person grew up knowing it as. In the scientific world, this plant is known as Epipremnum aureum and belongs to the Araceae family. Common names for pothos include devil’s ivy, taro vine, ivy arum, and golden pothos.
Causes of Pothos Poisoning in Dogs
Pothos produces insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. The crystal shape of the oxalates and their insolubility cause damage to the mouth. Instead of dissolving when coming into contact with the moisture of the mouth, it cuts the tissue and causes injury. This trait is what causes all the symptoms related to oral irritation. The entire pothos plant contains the toxins, but the leaves contain the highest concentration.
Diagnosis of Pothos Poisoning in Dogs
When you first arrive at the veterinarian’s office, she will begin by performing a physical exam on your dog. This will allow her to assess his symptoms and note any abnormalities of his vitals. If your dog is drooling excessively or displaying other symptoms of oral pain, the veterinarian will take special care when examining his mouth to note any redness or swelling. If your dog vomits while at the clinic, the veterinarian will examine the contents for any evidence as to what he ingested.
Blood work will be performed to give the veterinarian a broad look as to how the internal organs are functioning. A complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry panel will provide the veterinarian with needed information for proper assessment. A packed cell volume (PCV) may also be performed to determine hydration status. If your veterinarian suspects crystalluria, she may perform a urinalysis for further evaluation of kidney function and to check for crystal formation in the urine.
It is suggested that you take a piece of the pothos plant with you to the veterinarians. This will allow for proper identification of the plant your dog consumed and the toxin it contains.
Treatment of Pothos Poisoning in Dogs
For any type of oral pain, drooling, or foaming at the mouth, the veterinarian may attempt to wash out your dog’s mouth. This will rinse any remaining crystals from your dog’s mouth to prevent further damage.
If your dog is experiencing breathing difficulties, your veterinarian may start your dog on oxygen via flow-by or place him in an oxygen cage. If your dog is experiencing severe swelling, the veterinarian may have to intubate him and maintain oxygen administration via intubation until he stabilizes. An antihistamine will be administered to help decrease the swelling and you should begin to notice a decrease in swelling in 2 to 4 hours.
Your dog will be started on fluid therapy to flush the toxin from the body quicker, to prevent the kidneys from shutting down and to correct and prevent dehydration. With the possibility of crystals forming in the urine, the fluids will continuously push liquid into him. This will make him need to urinate frequently enough for the urine to not remain in the bladder long enough to allow the formation of crystals.
Recovery of Pothos Poisoning in Dogs
Since most cases of pothos poisoning are relatively mild, the prognosis for a full recovery is excellent. Once the oxalate crystals are rinsed from your dog’s mouth, no more injury should occur. If your dog is experiencing crystalluria, once the toxin has passed through his body, formation of crystals in the urine should cease.
Educate yourself about the plants you have in and around your home. Many dogs do not disturb plants, but even the most well behaved dog can get curious. If you have this plant in your home, keep it at a height your dog cannot reach, even when standing on his hind legs. If you have this plant outside your home, keep it in an area your dog does not have access to and teach him to not chew on or ingest foliage.
Pothos Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My dog chewed up one pathos leaf. It doesn’t look like she ingested any of it just chewed it up. She did not show any immediate signs and is still acting completely normal. Running barking drinking bathroom fine. With reading about pothos plant poisoning some mention nothing to worry about and others say it’s serious. Was wondering at this point if everything will be fine or if I should bring her to vet.
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My puppy (10 weeks) ate some of my Pothos plant. He’s bit at it a few times prior but I immediately stop him. Last night he ate more than normal and led him to throwing up. I did some research and realized it’s my plant ! I had no idea my plant Was poisonous. He seems a little lethargic but nothing else out of the normal aside from throwing up once.
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