What is Rose of China Poisoning?
The plant known as the rose of China (Hibiscus syriacus) is a flowering shrub native to Asia also known as the rose of Sharon, the rose mallow, and St. Joseph’s rod. It is a member of the Hibiscus family, and although not all members of the Hibiscus family contain harmful compounds, the rose of China variety is known to be moderately toxic to dogs, cats, and even horses. The gastrointestinal distress that is caused by the consumption of this plant rarely lasts longer than 12 to 24 hours.
The rose of China is a flowering shrub from Asia with large trumpet-shaped white, pink, or purple flowers that can be mildly toxic to your pet.
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Symptoms of Rose of China Poisoning in Dogs
Although poisonings by the rose of China plant are not usually fatal, other dangerous poisons can cause the same types of gastrointestinal symptoms, so it is important to correctly identify the plant that your pet has been eating. The symptoms of toxicity from the rose of China shrub are very similar to poisonings by other plants. If you are not confident about the source of your dog’s gastrointestinal troubles, it is essential to contact your veterinarian as quickly as possible. Symptoms of poisoning include:
- Abdominal pain
- Excessive drooling
- Loss of appetite
There are many varieties of hibiscus flower, and according to botanical history, they are all hybrids developed from these eight founding species.
- Hibiscus rosa-Sinensis - One of the best-known varieties of hibiscus flowers, was brought to Europe by explorers in the 17th century, but whether it came originally from China or from India is still a mystery
- Hibiscus lilliflorus - One of three species of hibiscus native to the Mascarene Islands near Africa’s eastern coast, it usually sports bright pink or red flowers
- Hibiscus schizopetalus - The Madagascar native has distinct frilly petals in a range of colors
- Hibiscus fragilis - Another species from the Mascarene Islands, this particular variety is nearly extinct in the wild, with only a few dozen plants still growing, but it is cultivated in some botanical gardens as well, to save it from extinction
- Hibiscus genevieve - A lesser known species from the Mascarene Islands
- Hibiscus arnottianus - A Hawaiian hibiscus with large, white flowers
- Hibiscus storckii - This hibiscus was originally found on the island of Fiji in the 1800’s, but has since disappeared from the island; the botanist that located and named this plant gave a sample to the Kew botanical gardens in England, saving it from extinction
- Hibiscus kokio - A smaller Hawaiian hibiscus with smaller flowers in bright red
Causes of Rose of China Poisoning in Dogs
The toxin in the rose of China plant is still unknown, although it appears to be most active in cats, dogs, and horses. Unlike most toxic and noxious plants, the rose of China flower has a flavor that is pleasing to dogs and may be tempting to ingest substantial quantities of this plant.
Diagnosis of Rose of China Poisoning in Dogs
As the rose of China flower is only moderately noxious, signs and symptoms that are more critical than vomiting or diarrhea are usually due to a secondary disorder or to a misidentification of the plant. If the ingestion of the plant was unwitnessed, if vomiting has lasted for longer than twelve hours, or if blood is present in the vomit or diarrhea, your dog’s doctor will usually recommend a visit to the clinic based on the symptoms described. Symptoms of this type of poisoning are common and could characterize any number of toxins and disorders. Your pet’s doctor will want as thorough a history of your pet’s health as you can provide, including complete information regarding supplements or prescriptions being given to your pet, as well as any possible opportunities for eating plants or other inappropriate substances.
A urinalysis, biochemistry profile, and complete blood count will also be ordered to uncover any toxins or imbalances. The toxin from rose of China is unknown, and cannot be detected in the blood at this time. Any available stomach contents that were expelled will also be evaluated to confirm the preliminary diagnosis as material from the rose of China will often be detected in these contents.
Treatment of Rose of China Poisoning in Dogs
It is important to contact your veterinarian before starting any sort of therapy both to get specific instructions for your dog and to determine if either the response to the toxin or the amount eaten necessitates a visit to the veterinarian’s office. For most dogs, however, treatment for consumption of the rose of China can easily be handled at home. Initially, therapy for canines who are showing gastric distress such as excessive or persistent vomiting or diarrhea often includes the withholding of food until both the vomiting and diarrhea have died down for approximately half a day. This treatment method is calculated to give the gastric muscles of the patient time to recover from the incessant spasms that this kind of vomiting generally causes. It is essential that small amounts of water and crushed ice are offered often throughout this process in order to prevent dehydration.
When extreme vomiting or diarrhea become a concern, your veterinarian may request that you bring your pet into their clinic for supportive treatment. IV fluid treatment to prevent dehydration will be administered at the doctor’s office, and medications such as Pepcid AC or Imodium may also be recommended for their gastroprotective properties.These drugs should never be given to your pet without talking to a veterinary professional first as dosing for humans and canines can be very different.
Recovery of Rose of China Poisoning in Dogs
If your pet is particularly sensitive to the compounds in the plant, or if unusually large quantities of the rose of China are eaten, extreme nausea and vomiting may occur. One of the biggest risks that accompany profuse vomiting and diarrhea is the threat of dehydration. While your companion is exhibiting the effects of the toxin, he should be carefully monitored for signs of dehydration such as unexplained exhaustion, excessive panting, sunken eyes, loss of elasticity in the skin, and wobbling or tremors when standing. These symptoms can indicate that your canine is in grave distress and your veterinarian should be contacted immediately for further instructions.