What is Red Emerald Poisoning?
The red emerald is one of the green, leafy plants of the philodendron genus. This genus is known for is insoluble calcium oxalate crystals that can cause damage to your dog’s mouth immediately after he bites into it. Once he bites into the plant, he will develop burning of the mouth as well hypersalivation and possibly inflammation. You can attempt to rinse your dog’s mouth out, but it is recommended to contact your veterinarian for advice. Most dogs only need supportive therapies from their veterinarian and recovery very well without any lasting long term side effects.
The red emerald is a plant many people have in their homes for its leafy appearance and the pop of color it provides. However, if you have a dog in your home and he bites into the plant, he may develop signs of toxicity. If this happens, contact your veterinarian.
Symptoms of Red Emerald Poisoning in Dogs
As soon as your dog bites into the red emerald plant, symptoms will develop. Symptoms may include:
- Oral irritation
- Pawing at the mouth
- Intense burning of the mouth
- Burning of the tongue
- Burning of the lips
- Inflammation of the mouth and/or throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Calcium oxalate crystalluria
- Difficulty breathing
The red emerald plant belongs to the Araceae family with the scientific name of Philodendron bipennifolium. It is also known by many other common names including red princess, fruit salad leaf, fiddle leaf, saddle leaf, panda plant, cordatum, split leaf philodendron, horsehead philodendron and heartleaf philodendron. The foliage of the red emerald is green with a red or copper like color.. The size of the plant varies but can grow to be very large.
Causes of Red Emerald Poisoning in Dogs
The red emerald plant possesses insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. The shape of the oxalates and their insolubility causes damage of your dog’s mouth when he bites into the plant. While soluble crystals dissolve when they come into contact with the saliva and moisture of the mouth, the insoluble crystals do not dissolve and instead cut the tissue within the mouth and causes injury. This trait is what causes all the symptoms related to oral irritation. Also, if any of these crystals make their way into your dog’s bloodstream, it can lead to crystal formation in the urine as well as damage to other tissues within the body.
Diagnosis of Red Emerald Poisoning in Dogs
When you arrive at the veterinarian clinic, she will begin by performing a physical exam. The exam will allow the veterinarian to note the symptoms your dog is experiencing. While she is doing this, she will also collect a history from you to gather any and all information relating to what your dog could possibly have gotten into. If your dog is drooling excessively or displaying other symptoms of oral pain, she will take special care when examining your dog’s mouth if he will allow her. 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 tolerating the toxin. She may not get much information from the results, but it is important in any toxicity case to check lab work. A complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry panel will provide the veterinarian with needed information for proper assessment. If the veterinarian is concerned about dehydration, a packed cell volume (PCV) maybe performed to determine hydration status. A urinalysis will also be performed to check your dog’s urine for any crystal formation indicating he swallowed some of the crystals.
If you believe or witnessed your dog chewing on this plant, take a piece of it with you to the veterinarian clinic. This will allow for proper and quicker identification of the plant your dog consumed and therefore the toxin it contains.
Treatment of Red Emerald 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 remove any remaining crystals from your dog’s mouth and hopefully prevent any more damage from occurring. This should also give your dog some relief from the oral pain he may be experiencing. Your dog will be started on fluid therapy to flush the toxin from the body quicker and to correct and prevent dehydration.
If your dog is having trouble breathing, an antihistamine will be administered to help decrease the swelling of his throat as quickly as possible. Your veterinarian may start your dog on oxygen via flow-by or place him in an oxygen cage to get his oxygen saturation levels back to a safe range. If your dog is experiencing severe swelling and is still not receiving enough oxygen from either or both of these methods, the veterinarian may have to intubate him and maintain oxygen administration via intubation until he stabilizes. You should begin to notice a decrease in swelling within 2 to 4 hours and his breathing should return to normal.
Recovery of Red Emerald Poisoning in Dogs
Most cases of red emerald poisoning are usually relatively mild due to the fact your dog will immediately feel pain once he bites into the plant and his instinctive reaction will be to drop the plant. As a result, his prognosis for a full recovery is good. Once the oxalate crystals are rinsed from your dog’s mouth, no more injury should occur and recovery should begin.
Before bringing a new plant into your home and into your dog’s environment, educate yourself about the plant. Many dogs do not disturb plants unless they are young puppies, but even the most well behaved older dog can get curious.