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The prayer bean goes by many names, such as rosary pea, Buddhist rosary bead, Indian bead, Indian licorice, love bean, lucky bean, Seminole bead, prayer bead, and weather plant. The vine has pods which open to expose hard seeds that vary in color. They may be red, orange, black, and white, with black and white centers. With the toxin’s structure being similar to that of ricin, inulin, botulinum, cholera, and diphtheria, it will prevent protein synthesis and cause cell death.
The plant flourishes in many areas such as the Caribbean islands, Hawaii, Belize, Polynesia, and parts of the mainland United States, particularly thriving in Florida.
The prayer bean plant is highly toxic to humans, dogs, cats, and horses. The seed has a tough coat to protect it but if the coat becomes broken and the seed is ingested, its toxins can affect your dog’s system causing serious damage. The seeds hold the highest concentration of the toxin.
Should your dog ingest the seeds and the toxins be absorbed, you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
If you believe your pet has ingested the seed or any part of the prayer bean plant, contact your veterinarian immediately.
The cause of poisoning from the prayer bean plant is from ingestion, or by the toxin somehow making its way into the bloodstream. Seeds with unbroken shells, though less likely to cause symptoms, can still pose a threat. The seeds of this plant are also often made into jewelry, which dogs may get ahold of and consume, thus becoming exposed to the toxin. Though the toxin itself is similar to ricin, it is far more toxic and deadly. Always contact a veterinarian if you believe your dog may have ingested the seed or any part of this plant.
Do not attempt to induce vomiting at home, unless instructed by your veterinarian over the telephone before the appointment, as some types of poisoning can be made worse by vomiting, and there is risk of aspiration pneumonia. If your pet is having vomiting spells, and/or diarrhea, collect samples of each in separate bags for your veterinarian to test. Check around your house to find anything that your dog may have ingested if you are unsure of the offending poison or the object that they could have consumed.
Unless you know for certain that your pet has ingested the prayer bean, your veterinarian will need to consider all of the possibilities for your dog’s symptoms. She may collect a fecal sample, a sample of vomit, and perform blood tests to rule out other reasons for the illness. While investigating the possible causes, your veterinarian may choose to begin intravenous fluids and medications to stop the vomiting, depending on your pet’s condition. Radiographs (x-rays) may also be done to check for a foreign body and to verify that there is no other underlying cause for the symptoms.
If your veterinarian deems the prayer bean to be the cause of your pet’s symptoms they will begin treatment, which may involve one or more of the following:
The intravenous will provide fluids for dehydration and can be used for the administration of medications such as antiemetics and medication to calm tremors.
Induction of vomiting
The veterinarian may induce vomiting in order to expel the prayer bean from your pet’s stomach if vomiting has not occurred. The administration of activated charcoal to bind the remaining toxins may be considered as well. This procedure may have to be repeated.
The veterinary team will monitor your dog’s vital signs carefully throughout his hospital stay, assuring that his temperature is normal and that his vital signs are stabilizing. There is always a risk that the treatment will not work, but if caught early enough, there is a good chance of reversing the effects of the poison.
The prayer bean is extremely toxic, and therefore, recovery may be slow. If you notice that your pet is having difficulty eating or drinking, or if you are concerned that your pet’s recovery may not be going as planned, contact your veterinarian without delay. Removal of this plant from your property is important. When walking your pet, do not allow him to chew on foliage as many plants have toxic properties.
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