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Many plants do not pose a threat to your pet leading owners into a false sense of security. Before you bring in any new plant to your dog’s environment, be sure to do your research first. The racemose asparagus plant looks delicate and harmless but can actually poison your dog. If he ingests it, it can lead to gastrointestinal upset and intense abdominal pain. Also, by coming into contact with the plant repeatedly, it can lead to your dog developing allergic dermatitis. If this happens to your dog, take him to a veterinarian so he can receive supportive therapies. Dogs recover very well with the help of therapies and medications the veterinarian can offer him.
Racemose asparagus is a small shrub like plant that looks good indoors and out. This is why many people have this plant in and around their home. While it may look nice, it can be toxic to your dog if he ingests it or comes into contact with it.
Depending on how much of racemose asparagus is ingested by your dog, his symptoms may include:
Unlike its name suggests, the racemose asparagus looks nothing like the typical vegetable asparagus. This plant is a type of bushy plant similar to that of a lacey fern. It belongs to the Liliaceae family with the scientific name of Asparagus densiflorus cv sprengeri. Other names this plant is commonly known as includes asparagus, asparagus fern, lace fern, plumosa fern, emerald fern, sprengeri fern, emerald feather and shatavari.
Racemose asparagus contains sapogenins, also commonly known as saponins. These steroidal sapogenins are found in different families of plants and can cause toxicity symptoms in any species of animal that ingests it. Sapogenins do have beneficial qualities in the health field, such as being used to treat inflammation, but when it is in its unprocessed form and ingested in excess, it can harm your dog.
When you first arrive at the veterinarian’s office, she will begin with a physical exam. This will allow her to check your dog’s vitals and note any abnormalities. This will also allow her a thorough look over your dog to evaluate his symptoms. She will collect a history from you to try and decipher what your dog may have ingested or come into contact with in the past 24 hours.
The veterinarian may suggest performing a skin scrape on your dog. This involves the veterinarian gently scraping the top layer of skin on your dog in a small, affected area. She will collect the sample to look at under the microscope to rule out skin mites, mange, or bacterial overgrowth. She may also want to take a hair sample from your dog to put on a culture to determine if his symptoms are being caused by a fungus.
The veterinarian will want to perform blood work to give her a look at how things are functioning internally. A complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry panel are usually the first tests to be run. These tests give a large amount of information in a very short amount of time. If your dog is vomiting, having diarrhea excessively, or drooling excessively she may run a packed cell volume (PCV) to determine the severity of dehydration he is experiencing. Depending on the preliminary results, your veterinarian may choose to run more diagnostic tests for further evaluation.
If your dog’s abdomen is tender, the veterinarian may want to take a radiograph for an internal look. This will allow her to check the gastrointestinal tract for a blockage or other abnormality.
Your dog will be started on intravenous fluids to flush the toxin from his system quickly and safely. It will also help correct and prevent any dehydration he may be experiencing from the vomiting, diarrhea, and hypersalivation. Vitamins may be added to the fluids to give your dog an extra boost for his immune system.
If your dog is vomiting profusely, the veterinarian may administer an antiemetic to offer him some relief from the vomiting. If your dog is not vomiting, the veterinarian may induce vomiting to rid his stomach of any remaining ingested pieces of the medicine plant. If too much time has passed since he ingested the plant, she may just administer activated charcoal to bind to the toxin, to prevent the body from absorbing any more, and to act as a protective layer for the gastrointestinal tract. This will also help with any diarrhea he may be experiencing as it will work to rid his system of the toxin.
If he is experiencing some type of skin irritation, a medicated ointment, cream, or spray may be prescribed. This will offer relief of any itching or pain he may be experiencing from it. He may also be sent home with an e-collar, also known as a cone, to keep him from biting at his skin and possibly causing a secondary infection.
Any lethargy, weakness, and incoordination will subside as the toxin leaves your dog’s body and as he gets his strength back. He may need to be on kennel rest for a few days with very little exercise to ensure he does not accidentally hurt himself if he is still slightly clumsy.
Racemose asparagus toxicity may be considered mild to moderate. In most cases, dogs recover very well with the help of supportive therapies alone. Hospitalization or intense treatment is unlikely as most dogs do not react severely. While the racemose asparagus is a aesthetically pleasing ornamental plant, keep it out of the reach of your dog.
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