What is Sorrel Poisoning?
The sorrel plant, commonly known as shamrock, tastes extremely bitter, thus deterring animals from destroying the plant. Although poisoning from this plant usually occurs in cattle and other large animals which graze in fields on farms, dogs can also be affected when roaming and consuming the plant. The soluble oxalates within the plant are what cause the plant to be toxic, namely the oxalic acid and the oxalate salts. The scientific name of this plant is Oxalis triangularis.
This plant is native to Brazil and is usually grown in homes, although many people prefer adorning their lawns with sorrel, as well as their outdoor potted plants. This plant needs a very bright place to flourish, and if grown indoors requires a core temperature. Outdoors, they thrive in milder weather with a lot of water. They are grown from bulbs, and the bulbs within the soil divide for further growth. The oxalis does go through a period of dormancy on a regular schedule throughout the growth cycle. Many people take the bulbs out of the soil and remove the side bulbs and then replant for new plants. The leaves of the sorrel plant are “Shamrock” shaped and open up during the daylight hours and close at night. The leaves come in a variety of colors, such as white, lavender, and light yellow.
Sorrel poisoning in dogs is a result of dogs ingesting all or part of the sorrel plant, which contains soluble calcium oxalates. These compounds are toxic to dogs.
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Symptoms of Sorrel Poisoning in Dogs
Symptoms of sorrel plant poisoning may vary depending on the quantity ingested. Symptoms may be mild, moderate, or severe. Symptoms include:
- Blood in the urine
- Excessive thirst
- Excessive urination
- Loss of appetite
- Body tremors
The sorrel plant is toxic, and it is important to know the alternate names for the same plant. Alternate names for the sorrel plant include:
- Purple shamrock
- Love plant
- Soluble oxalates
- Soluble calcium oxalates
Causes of Sorrel Poisoning in Dogs
Causes of sorrel plant poisoning are the soluble calcium oxalates, which are found in all of the plant parts. Specific causes of toxicity include:
- Contains oxalate salts as well as oxalic acid
- When absorbed via gastrointestinal tract, soluble oxalate salts bind with calcium
- A sudden decline in the dog’s calcium
- Acute failure of the renal system occurs
Diagnosis of Sorrel Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog is exhibiting any of the above symptoms, take him to the veterinarian immediately. If you suspect he ingested the sorrel plant, take a part of the plant into the veterinarian with you. Once you call the veterinarian and tell him your suspicions, he may give you suggestions on how to induce vomiting. If you are able to, taking a sample of the dog’s vomit into the veterinary appointment will aid the veterinarian in diagnosing his condition at a faster rate.
Once you take your dog to the veterinarian, he will immediately assess his symptoms. He may take bloodwork, urinalysis, and perform a biochemistry profile. The biochemistry profile will check the functionality of the organs, namely the renal system. These tests will also rule out any other illnesses or conditions that your dog may be suffering from.
Bloodwork will show extremely high abnormalities within the dog’s blood if they are suffering from toxicity from the plant. Known as uremia, this syndrome has characteristics of hormone imbalances, abnormalities in metabolism, waste products in the blood, and abnormal fluid and electrolyte levels. Uremia occurs when there is abnormal renal function, which can be caused by soluble calcium oxalates. Bloodwork will also reveal hypocalcemia, or a decrease in calcium, and oxalate crystals within the urine.
Treatment of Sorrel Poisoning in Dogs
Once the veterinarian has diagnosed your companion with soluble oxalate toxicity from the sorrel plant, he will begin treatment. Treatment methods may include:
With sorrel plant toxicity, the veterinarian may induce vomiting to remove the toxins from your dog’s stomach. You may have already done so before your visit, or your dog may have vomited on his own. The veterinarian will make the decision to induce vomiting depending on if he has already done so. Once emesis is performed, your veterinarian may follow-up with activated charcoal to soak up any remaining toxins and prevent them from being absorbed into your dog’s system.
Your dog will need plenty of fluids, especially if he has electrolyte imbalances. He may be hooked up to IV fluids for quite some time, depending on his condition. For many dogs, fluid therapy may be given for 48 hours. Fluids not only help restore electrolytes, they also prevent dehydration, especially if the dog has had diarrhea and vomiting. Fluids also encourage proper kidney function and urination.
The veterinarian may decide to keep your dog overnight or for a few days, depending on his condition. The veterinarian will have to monitor his symptoms and keep a close eye on him to make sure he is recovering properly.
Recovery of Sorrel Poisoning in Dogs
When the veterinarian decides that your dog is able to come home, he will have a list of instructions for you to follow in terms of his aftercare. The medical professional may also want to see him for follow-up appointments to be sure he is recovering properly.
You may have to follow a special diet, at least for a few days, for his system to heal. The veterinarian may prescribe a prescription dog food or will give you a list of foods that you can feed him. More than likely you will be feeding him bland foods due to the fact that he may have had quite an upset stomach.
Be sure to provide fresh water several times a day so he can continue to flush out his system. Monitor him carefully and encourage rest, and if you see any new symptoms arise please do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian.