What is Saddle Leaf Philodendron Poisoning?
Saddle leaf philodendron is a tropical plant displaying large decorative leaves with a shiny appearance. Philodendrons are often used as a decorative houseplant due to their low maintenance and interesting foliage. The insoluble calcium oxalate crystals that cause the extreme pain and irritation are present in all parts of the saddle leaf philodendron. Ordinarily, the discomfort that is caused by the sharp crystals when the plant is chewed on will prevent more serious consumption amounts. Infrequently, your pet may end up swallowing larger amounts of plant material. If your canine companion chooses to eat more substantial quantities of the plant material, a visit to the veterinarian may be necessary.
Like all plants in the philodendron genus, saddle leaf philodendrons contain calcium oxalate crystals which can cause intense pain and irritation of the mouth and gastrointestinal tract when chewed or swallowed.
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Symptoms of Saddle Leaf Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
All philodendron plants contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. When any part of the saddle leaf philodendron is chewed or swallowed these crystals can cause:
- Cardiac arrhythmias
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Dilated eyes
- Excessive drooling
- Hoarseness when barking
- Loss of appetite
- Numbness of exposed area
- Obstruction of the airway
- Pawing/rubbing at the face or mouth
- Swelling of the tongue and lips
Saddle leaf philodendron plants are most often encountered as houseplants as they are both attractive and low maintenance. Several other varieties of plants contain the same calcium oxalate crystals which are the cause of the pain and irritation from the philodendron variety of plants. These other plants can include:
- Arrowhead vine (Syngonium podophyllum)
- Calla or arum lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica)
- Candelabra cactus (Euphorbia lactea)
- Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestrum)
- Devil’s ivy (Pothos, Epipremnum)
- Elephant’s ear (Alocasia/Caladium/Xanthosoma)
- Flamingo plant (Anthurium)
- Fruit salad plant (Monstera)
- Philodendron (Philodendron)
- Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)
- Peace lily (Spathiphyllum)
- Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum)
- Skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)
- Wild calla (Calla)
Causes of Saddle Leaf Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
All parts of the saddle leaf philodendron contain calcium oxalate crystals, and this is the compound that causes the distress to your pet. Calcium oxalate is a calcium salt made of oxalic acid which creates irritation and then numbness in the tissues it comes into contact with. Chewing any part of the plant can cause intense swelling and pain in the mouth and throat areas as the microscopic crystals embed themselves deep into the nearby soft tissues. If any of the sap or plant material is swallowed, the inflammation can then extend down the throat and through the gastrointestinal tract. This can cause discomfort, stress, and severe internal pain. The swelling has also been known to cause breathing difficulties if the airway becomes blocked.
Diagnosis of Saddle Leaf Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
Symptoms are occasionally known to take up to two hours to show up, however, many symptoms of contact with the calcium oxalate crystals from consuming saddle leaf philodendron plants will show up right away, which means that identification of the plant in combination with your canines symptoms is often enough to allow for an initial diagnosis. If your dog chooses to ingest large quantities of plant material or if you did not happen to witness what your pet may have ingested, your veterinarian will likely request a visit to the office.
Information will be collected from you regarding any opportunities for inappropriate grazing. If your dog has been prescribed supplements or prescriptions, these will be considered as well. Tests, including a complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis, may reveal any coexisting diseases or disorders when it is analyzed. If exposure to the plant material is causing your pet to vomit, then the vomitus will also be examined by the veterinary team and then tested for toxins. Plant material in the vomitus will be conducive to confirming the preliminary diagnosis.
Treatment of Saddle Leaf Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
Immediate treatment will generally begin with a thorough flushing out of the mouth and other affected areas with fresh, cold water, in order to remove as much of the plant material as possible. The unpleasant taste and discomfort from the crystals will usually prevent ingestion of large quantities of this plant. In those cases, a thorough rinsing of the mouth area may be sufficient treatment. Ice cubes or milk can be offered to your dog to ease the oral distress until you are able to get further advice from your veterinarian. Pain relievers or antihistamines may be appropriate for your pet as well, depending on the circumstances involved.
If sizeable quantities of the either the plant material or sap were consumed, a visit to the veterinarian’s office will be recommended. Intravenous fluid treatment will be offered to prevent dehydration, and if an antihistamine was not previously administered, administration as an intramuscular injection might occur at this time. In order to protect the stomach lining, gastroprotective medications may be administered to the patient. If the airway has become significantly swollen, your canine should be kept under observation by the team at the veterinary office until the swelling has subsided. In some extreme instances, pets will need oxygen therapy because the intense swelling can cause an airway obstruction.
Recovery of Saddle Leaf Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
Prognosis is usually quite good for dogs that ingest only small quantities of the plants containing the calcium oxalate crystals, such as the saddle leaf philodendron. Pain caused by the crystals in the mouth and gastrointestinal tract usually are often displaced within just twelve to twenty-four hours after ingestion. Swelling that occurs in the airway should be thoroughly evaluated and monitored by a veterinarian. Substantial doses of the plants that contain calcium oxalate crystals are rare due to the initial pain and discomfort in the mouth. Pets who do manage to consume significant amounts of these plants risk liver and kidney damage, so further monitoring of these organs by your veterinarian will mean follow-up appointments until the veterinarian feels that your pet is out of danger.