What is Satin Pothos Poisoning?
In Thailand, the satin pothos can grow up to 10 feet tall outdoors, but it cannot tolerate temperatures under 60 degrees Fahrenheit so it has to be grown as a houseplant. The evergreen climbing plant has green and silver oval leaves that become pinnately lobed like feathers as the satin pothos matures. Although this plant has small flowers in the wild, they are rarely seen in houseplants. Biting into a satin pothos usually causes intense pain due to the crystals embedding themselves into the skin, but it is the inflammation that causes the most dangerous side effects. If your pet has eaten part of a Satin pothos plant, it is essential that you make a trip to a veterinary clinic or hospital if you cannot get an appointment with your veterinarian.
Satin pothos poisoning in dogs is a moderate to severe condition that can affect your pet after eating the leaves or stem of a satin pothos plant. The dangerous substances in the satin pothos are insoluble calcium oxalate crystals, which are very small and sharp enough to lodge themselves in the tissues of the mouth, throat, and intestinal tract. The severe pain caused by the oxalate crystals usually stops most dogs from eating a lethal amount, but not always. In some circumstances, these oxalate crystals can cause intense swelling that may create breathing trouble. If the throat and airway swell too much, it can be life threatening. The sap also contains insoluble calcium oxalates and will cause a painful burning skin irritation. Consuming any part of a satin pothos plant is poisonous for humans as well, but dogs are more susceptible because they like to chew and graze on greenery and foliage.
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Symptoms of Satin Pothos Poisoning in Dogs
The first thing you will probably notice if your pet eats some of a satin pothos plant is redness around the mouth and possibly whining or yelping. Also, your dog may have an irritating and burning rash anywhere else on the body that may have been exposed to the plant or the sap. These are some of the most often reported symptoms:
- Mouth pain
- Excessive drooling
- Foaming from the mouth and nose
- Appetite loss
- Pawing at the mouth
- Inflammation and burning tongue, lips, and mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
The scientific name of the Satin pothos is Scindapsus pictus from the Araceae family. Some additional names that this plant is known by include:
- Silver vine
- Silk pothos
- Spotted pothos
- Golden pothos
Causes of Satin Pothos Poisoning in Dogs
- Insoluble calcium oxalate crystals
- Intense swelling that may create breathing trouble
- Crystals lodge themselves in the tissues of the mouth, throat, and intestinal tract
- Sap will cause a painful burning skin irritation
Diagnosis of Satin Pothos Poisoning in Dogs
If you can, bring a portion of the plant or a picture to show to the veterinarian. This may help speed up diagnosis, which means your dog will get treatment faster. Explain in detail what symptoms you noticed and how much of the plant you think your pet ate. In addition, be sure to mention any medications, vitamins, or dietary supplements you have given your dog recently, even if it is just an over the counter product.
A comprehensive physical checkup will be done, including pupil reaction time, reflexes, height and weight, temperature, blood pressure, coat and skin condition, pulse ox (oxygen level), breath sounds, respirations, and heart rate. The veterinarian will also get some urine and stool samples for microscopic evaluation at this time. Next, blood is drawn for laboratory tests, such as blood glucose level, biochemistry analysis, BUN (blood urea nitrogen), CBC (complete blood count), PCV (packed cell volume), and liver enzyme panel.
The veterinarian may want to do an endoscopy, which is done by inserting an endoscope (flexible lighted tube) into your dog’s throat to view the esophagus and upper airway. Additionally, if there are any plant residue or other foreign materials in the throat, the veterinarian can remove them by inserting a tool through the endoscope. This procedure is done while your pet is sedated to prevent injury. Afterward, the veterinarian will get some abdominal x-rays and maybe an ultrasound to look for blockages and inflammation.
Treatment of Satin Pothos Poisoning in Dogs
The veterinarian will use the test results, your pet’s overall health, and symptoms to decide on a plan of treatment. The usual treatment for calcium oxalate crystal ingestion includes removing as much of the plant particles and toxins as possible, detoxification, medication, and observation.
To help remove any toxins from the digestive system, the veterinarian will give your dog an emetic medication (ipecac or peroxide), to encourage vomiting. Activated charcoal will be given next because it binds to the oxalates so they can be expelled from the body without any more being absorbed.
To detox your pet, intravenous (IV) fluids and electrolytes will be administered. This will flush the toxins out through the kidneys and prevent dehydration from vomiting.
If your dog is having trouble breathing, oxygen can be given through a tube inserted into the nose. Also, antihistamines and corticosteroids may be given for the inflammation and irritation. For gastric distress, antacids or an H2 blocker can reduce acids and calm the stomach.
The veterinarian may want to keep your dog overnight for observation. During that time, the medical personnel can provide fluids, oxygen, and other treatment if necessary.
Recovery of Satin Pothos Poisoning in Dogs
Your pet’s prognosis is good if you were able to obtain treatment within the first 12 hours. Be sure to follow all instructions your veterinarian gives you and provide a quiet place for your dog to rest. The veterinarian may suggest a soft, bland diet for a week or two so your pet’s stomach can heal.A follow-up appointment may be required, depending on the severity of the poisoning event.