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The precatory bean plant has been used in the making of jewelry, rosaries, and some percussion instruments. However, once it was discovered how toxic this seed is to humans and animals, production of such products stopped. If the bean is ingested by your dog but remains intact, it may pass through his system without any development of toxicity symptoms. However, if the outer seed casing is damaged in any way prior or during ingestion, toxicity symptoms will develop relatively quickly. You must seek veterinary attention for your dog if he ingests the precatory bean plant. Vomiting and diarrhea are the most common symptoms of toxicity and the first to develop. If toxicity occurs but does not receive veterinary care, consequences may be fatal.
The precatory bean plant is an invasive plant that produces bright red and black beans. This quality makes them attractive to curious animals but unfortunately, this plant is toxic to your dog if he consumes it. If your dog ingests this plant, it needs to be treated as a medical emergency and you need to contact your veterinarian immediately.
Onset of symptoms will be determined by how much of the precatory bean plant your dog ingests. Symptoms of toxicity include
With continuous vomiting and diarrhea, the presence of blood in either substance is a common development.
Abrus precatorius is the scientific name of the precatory bean plant. It is native to tropical regions but is making an appearance in the United States in subtropical regions such as Hawaii, Florida, and other southern states. The precatory bean looks similar to the castor bean, but they are indeed different. The precatory bean is also known by the common names rosary pea, jequirity bean, crab’s eye, John Crow bead, Indian liquorice, Seminole bead, Buddhist rosary bead, lucky bean, and love bean.
The precatory bean plant produces red and black seeds that contain the toxins abrin and abric acid. These toxins inhibit cell protein synthesis which leads to cell death. It has been reported, if the seed is not chewed in any manner or the seed casing remains completely intact, it will pass through the digestive system as a whole and not cause any toxicity symptoms. When the seed casing is broken via chewing or smashing, the toxin is released and able to be absorbed by your dog’s body system.
When you arrive at the veterinarian’s office, she will begin by performing a physical exam on your dog. This will allow her to note any symptoms your dog is having and any abnormalities of his vitals. Laboratory work will be done to assess your dog’s internal organ function. Blood work may consist of a complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry panel to give the veterinarian a broad overview of how the body is handling the toxin. A packed cell volume (PCV) may also be performed to detect any amount of dehydration. A urinalysis may be done to further evaluate kidney function.
If your dog is experiencing increased heart rate, the veterinarian may perform an ultrasound or ECG for a more detailed look at the heart rhythm. A radiograph of the abdomen will be taken to search for the cause of abdominal pain.
The toxicity symptoms your dog is suffering will determine his course of treatment. If his body temperature is elevated to an unsafe range, cooling methods will begin immediately. The veterinarian will attempt to get his body temperature down quickly but safely.
Your veterinarian may induce vomiting in your dog to expel any remaining plant particles from the stomach. If the vomit is clear and unsuccessful at producing any plant remnants, the veterinarian may administer activated charcoal to bind any remaining toxin in the gastrointestinal tract before the body absorbs it. Fluid therapy will be started to flush the toxin from your dog’s body quickly and efficiently. Fluid therapy will also correct and prevent any degree of dehydration your dog may be experiencing.
Supportive medications may be administered to correct any other toxicity symptoms your dog is experiencing. If your dog is suffering incoordination, the veterinarian will try to keep him calm and quiet to avoid any unnecessary excitement or bodily harm.
Toxicity from the precatory bean may be considered moderate to severe. The amount of precatory bean your dog ingested will play a major role in the recovery process. If your dog received medical attention in a timely manner, prognosis of a full recovery is good to fair. However, the longer you wait to seek veterinary treatment for your dog, the more his chances of a full recovery greatly decline.
The diarrhea and vomiting will stop once the precatory bean plant passes through your dog’s system; with supportive therapies he will remain stable. Other symptoms of toxicity aren’t as mild and easy to correct. If your dog’s body temperature is elevated for too long, it can literally cook his brain, leading to long-term brain damage. If he goes into shock, veterinary intervention is needed immediately or the consequences can be fatal.
Even if you do seek veterinary attention as soon as possible, your dog may not recover. The precatory bean plant is very toxic and should never be ingested, chewed, or licked. If you find this invasive plant on your property, get rid of it. When out for walks, do not let your dog stop and chew on foliage you are not familiar with. The best form of treatment for your pet regarding precatory bean poisoning is to prevent it from happening to the best of your ability.
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