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Chamomile has been used medicinally for centuries. It is commonly used as a tea to calm nerves and to gently induce sleep. The name chamomile can refer to several plants although the most commonly known chamomile is German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla). Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) is also frequently used. Both plants are similar in appearance, and contain many of the same compounds. They are often used for the relief of many of the same disorders, however German chamomile tends to create a more potent oil and Roman chamomile is superior for calming and muscle relief. Although Roman chamomile is often used for its medicinal properties, it can also become moderately noxious.
Although chamomile is often used theraputically and medicinally for both dogs and humans, when large quantities of the plant or concentrated oil are ingested it can cause gastrointestinal distress.
Initial symptoms of chamomile overdose are very similar to the symptoms of more critical toxins, so if you are uncertain about the origin of the poison, it may be wise to transport your pet to the emergency clinic.
Roman chamomile can also cause uterine contractions and pregnant individuals should avoid ingesting this plant.
The two types of chamomile plant that are commonly referred to are German and Roman chamomile. Although both plants are similar in appearance as well as having similar medicinal properties and toxicity levels, they are from entirely different genera within that family.
German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) - This plant is the most studied of all the plants with the name of chamomile, it is a widespread annual that grows in temperate areas of America, Asia, and Europe and the oil from German chamomile is a dark blue
Roman chamomile has several compounds that make it useful for multiple symptoms and disorders. Some of these compounds also make this flower moderately toxic in large quantities. It contains sesquiterpene lactones, which are known to instigate allergic reactions as well as being noxious when ingested. Roman chamomile also contains anthemic acid, a known emetic, and in large or prolonged doses can also cause vomiting, diarrhea, gastritis, and heartburn.
Chamomile, whether German or Roman, is only mildly noxious, and symptoms that are more critical than vomiting and diarrhea are usually due to a secondary disorder or toxin, or to a misidentification of the plant. Ingestion of substantial amounts of the concentrated oil may cause the symptoms of poisoning to intensify. Questions regarding your canine’s health background, dietary habits, oral medications, access to plants or other potential toxins, and current symptoms are all likely to be covered when you contact your veterinarian. If your pet has a reaction severe enough to go to the clinic, a thorough physical exam will be performed with particular attention being paid to the stomach and abdomen area to check for intestinal blockages.
A complete blood count, urinalysis, and biochemistry profile will also generally be requested. This is completed in order to detect if there are any toxins or imbalances present in the patient’s system. If a sample of the plant was brought in, this sample may be evaluated to definitively determine which type of chamomile your dog ingested, as well as checking for possible pesticides. If symptoms of poisoning are occurring but the consumption of the toxin was not witnessed then any contents of the stomach will be tested for plant material or other toxins. If the vomiting is severe, your veterinarian may recommend that anti-emetic and gastroprotective medications be administered to reduce acute symptoms.
In most cases, treatment for consumption of Roman chamomile or the essential oils that are extracted from it can be handled at home with comparative ease. Contacting your veterinarian before starting any type of treatment is recommended to get specific instructions, and to determine if either the amount that was ingested or the reaction to the toxin merits a visit to the veterinarian’s office. Early therapy for dogs with excessive vomiting involves the withholding of all food and treats until both the vomiting and diarrhea have ceased for approximately twelve hours. This technique is designed to give the dog’s gastric muscles time to recover from the spasms caused by constant vomiting. Small amounts of water and crushed ice should be offered frequently during this treatment to combat dehydration.
If the vomiting or diarrhea become excessive, your veterinarian will generally request that you bring your pet into their office for additional supportive therapies. If your pet is exhibiting any indications of contact dermatitis or allergic reactions, antihistamines and anti-inflammatory medications may be recommended. IV fluid treatment will be administered at the veterinarian’s office to prevent chemical imbalances and dehydration. Medications like Pepcid AC or Imodium may be recommended for their gastroprotective properties. Do not give these medications to your pet without instructions from a veterinary professional the ensure proper individual dosing amounts.
The prognosis for animals that have ingested too much of the Roman chamomile plant or oil is quite good in most cases. One of the biggest dangers that can occur with the type of profuse vomiting and diarrhea caused by emetics such as an anthemic acid is the risk of dehydration. It is crucial that you monitor your companion carefully for signs of dehydration such as sunken eyes, exhaustion, excessive panting, loss of elasticity in the skin, and unsteadiness when standing. These symptoms may signal that the dog is in serious distress, and your veterinarian should be contacted for further instructions.
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