What is Red Princess Poisoning?
The red princess plant can frequently be found in homes, offices, and stores as a potted plant. It is a leafy plant that adds color to any room. The red princess is green with tinges of red and copper throughout the leaves and the rest of the plant. If you have a dog, you might consider avoiding having this plant in or around your home due to the fact that is toxic to your dog. If he bites into a piece of this plant, symptoms of toxicity will appear immediately. In most cases, the dog experiences oral pain and related symptoms. Since pain is typically located in the mouth, treatment involves rinsing of the mouth and possible medications. Most dogs recover well once symptoms subside.
The red princess plant is plant known by many names but has a distinctive color scheme. This color makes it easier to identify, which is a good thing since the red princess is toxic to your dog. If he bites into or ingests a part of this plant, contact your veterinarian.
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Symptoms of Red Princess Poisoning in Dogs
When your dog bites into the red princess, symptoms will develop almost immediately. Symptoms may include:
- Oral irritation
- Pawing at the mouth
- Burning of the tongue
- Burning of the lips
- Intense burning of the mouth
- Inflammation of the mouth or throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Calcium oxalate crystalluria
- Difficulty breathing
The foliage of the red princess is green with a red or copper like color. It can be found indoors and outdoors due to its leafy nature, but sometimes it can grow to be too large to comfortably keep inside your home. The size of the plant varies but can grow to be very large. The red princess plant is commonly known by other names including red emerald, panda plant, saddle leaf, fiddle leaf, fruit salad leaf, split leaf philodendron, horsehead philodendron, heartleaf philodendron and cordatum. The red princess plant belongs to the Araceae family with the scientific name of Philodendron bipennifolium.
Causes of Red Princess Poisoning in Dogs
The red princess plant possesses insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. Scientists believe the plant produces these crystals as a defense mechanism. When your dog bites into the plant, the shape of the oxalates and their insolubility factor leads to damage of your dog’s mouth. This is what causes all the symptoms of oral irritation. 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 leads to injury. 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 Princess Poisoning in Dogs
The veterinarian will begin by performing a physical examination of your dog when you first arrive. She will be able to take a proper look at every part of your dog and the symptoms he is suffering. While she is examining him, she will also collect a history from you to gather any and all information relating to what your dog may have encountered before his symptoms began.
If your dog is drooling excessively or displaying other symptoms of oral pain, if he will allow her, she will take special care when examining your dog’s mouth. If your dog vomits while at the clinic, the veterinarian will examine the contents for any evidence as to what he might have ingested. However, most dogs do not swallow this plant so it is unlikely anything will be found in the regurgitated contents.
Lab work will be performed to give the veterinarian a broad look as to how the internal organs are tolerating the toxin. A urinalysis will be performed to check your dog’s urine for any crystal formation indicating he swallowed some of the crystals. She will also run blood work in the form of a complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry panel to provide her with needed information for proper assessment. If the veterinarian is concerned about dehydration, a packed cell volume (PCV) may be performed to determine hydration status.
If you witnessed your dog chewing on this plant before his symptoms developed, take a piece of it with you to the veterinarian’s office. This will allow for proper and quicker identification of the plant your dog consumed and therefore the toxin it contains.
Treatment of Red Princess Poisoning in Dogs
Since the source of your dog’s pain will mainly be in his mouth from the cutting action of the crystals, the veterinarian may attempt to wash out his mouth. This should remove any remaining crystals from your dog’s mouth and hopefully prevent any more damage from occurring. The cooling sensation of the flush should also relieve some of the burning sensation he may be experiencing. Once this is done, she may decide to start him on intravenous fluid therapy to correct and prevent any dehydration, to flush the toxin from his body quicker, and to decrease his chance of developing crystalluria.
If your dog is having trouble breathing or experiencing any type of swelling, an antihistamine will be administered immediately. If his oxygen saturation is too low due to the swelling or breathing issues, 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.
Recovery of Red Princess Poisoning in Dogs
Since most dogs immediately drop the red princess plant once they bite into it and do not swallow it, most cases of red princess poisoning are relatively mild. 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. If your dog does happen to swallow some, treatment will be more intense and recovery may take longer.
Before bringing a new plant into your dog’s environment, educate yourself about the plant. Many plants go by many names so research it using its scientific name, each plant has only one of those. If you have this plant in or around your home, keep it out of your dog’s reach or consider removing it entirely. Sometimes, even the most well behaved dogs can get curious and the consequences will not be fun for either of you.