What is Split Leaf Philodendron Poisoning?
Philodendron is a tropical plant that is characterized by very large leaves in varying shapes and sizes. The foliage is very easy to maintain, and it is commonly used as a houseplant. The leaves are bold and a vibrant green, which may attract dogs and other pets due to their curiosity. This plant requires mild to moderate sunlight and is best maintained approximately 7 feet away from the window. It only requires watering approximately once a week, and since the leaves and stems can become quite full and large, owners find themselves staking the plant or trimming it back.
The leaves and stems of the plant contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals which serve as a natural defense to the plant. Philodendron protects itself from damage by emitting razor-sharp crystals, or raphides, when the leaves are damaged, namely when they are chewed upon.
Belonging to the family Araceae with the scientific name of Philodendron bipennifolium, the split leaf philodendron looks as if each leaf has a split down the middle of it. Though an attractive plant within the home, it should not be in a home with small children or pets due to its toxic nature.
Split leaf philodendron poisoning in dogs occurs when dogs consume all or part of this philodendron. This plan contains insoluble calcium oxalate crystals which are toxic and quite painful to dogs and other small animals.
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Symptoms of Split Leaf Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog has ingested split leaf philodendron, symptoms will develop immediately. The harsh symptoms may include:
- Pain in the mouth
- Pawing at the mouth and face
- Labored breathing
- Loss of appetite
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Difficulty swallowing
- Pacing and agitation
- Swollen gums and tongue
- Airway obstruction
- Gastrointestinal distress, if swallowed
The split leaf philodendron has a variety of names. Common names for this plant are useful to know so you can be sure to avoid owning it in a home with curious pets or children.
- Red emerald
- Horsehead philodendron
- Heartleaf philodendron
- Fiddle leaf
- Red princess
- Saddle leaf
- Fruit salad plant
- Panda plant
Causes of Split Leaf Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
Biting into a split leaf philodendron can cause intense pain. Specific causes of this pain and toxicity include:
- Insoluble calcium oxalate crystals
- These raphides are razor-sharp, needlelike structures
- Raphides penetrate the oral cavity
- Raphides release a toxic histamine, causing pain and swelling
Diagnosis of Split Leaf Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog is experiencing any of the above symptoms and your home contains this type of plant, call the veterinarian as soon as possible. Take a part of the plant and with you to the appointment. The veterinarian will immediately begin assessing your dog’s symptoms and will ask you questions pertaining to how much of the plant he possibly consumed in the time frame of ingesting the plant, to when you arrived at the veterinarian’s office.
The veterinarian will immediately and thoroughly rinse your dog’s mouth and face area to help alleviate some of the distress caused by the crystals. Depending on how much of the plant your dog ingested, and if he actually swallowed any of the plant, your veterinarian may begin treatment immediately.
He will take bloodwork, urinalysis, and biochemistry profile to aid in his diagnosis; however, if you know your dog consumed a split leaf philodendron your veterinarian may be able to come up with a diagnosis right away.
If your dog is vomiting, the veterinarian may choose to test the substance for signs of the plant. If your dog is having any airway blockages, your veterinarian may need to go further and insert a tube to help clear the airway in extreme circumstances.
Treatment of Split Leaf Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
Treatment of split leaf philodendron toxicity depends on the amount consumed by your dog. Treatment methods are as follows:
Your veterinarian may insert a tube into the stomach of the dog from the mouth in order to flush out any contents from the stomach. Your veterinarian may also recommend emesis if your dog’s airway is not blocked and if his esophagus is not swollen. With both of these methods, he will then administer a dosage or two of activated charcoal to help absorb any of the remaining insoluble calcium oxalates.
IV fluids will be given to restore hydration, keep your dog’s electrolyte levels stable, and promote further flushing of the toxins from his body. IV fluids promote proper kidney function and urination.
In cases of severe nausea, medication to control it, along with a prescription to combat the vomiting, will be administered.
If your dog has consumed split leaf philodendron, he may have to be hospitalized for a few days. The veterinarian will want to monitor his liver enzymes and other blood markers, as well as any gastrointestinal inflammation he may be having. Your dog will be given IV fluids throughout this time and possibly oxygen therapy as well. Your medical professional will also continue to monitor his vital signs and take regular blood samples.
Recovery of Split Leaf Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
If the poisoning is caught early and your dog responds to treatment, prognosis is good. If symptoms become too severe before treatment is given, prognosis of this type of toxicity is guarded. If your dog is showing signs recovery after his stay in the hospital or his veterinary visit, he will be sent home with specific instructions for you to follow on his aftercare.
You will be asked to encourage your dog to rest and avoid active play. Your dog may also be put on a bland diet, either in prescription form given by the veterinarian, or an at-home bland diet which includes boiled chicken and rice. Your veterinarian will want to see your dog again for future visits to be sure he is recovering properly.
Be sure to remove any plants with insoluble calcium oxalates from your home, as they present a danger to your dog. If you are unsure if your plants contain these crystals, ask your veterinarian and he will help you decipher the different types of toxic plants.
Split Leaf Philodendron Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
Could eating split leaf philodendron cause a dog to vomit blood? I'm reading it causes them to scratch at their face but she hasn't done that that we noticed. I cam e home from work yesterday to solid stool on the floor which is completely out of character and several piles of vomit with blood.
Consumption of any philodendron plant results in visible swelling of the mouth and face with the dog usually pawing at himself to the point of self mutilation; due to the irritating effects of the calcium oxalate crystals, parts of the plant wouldn’t normally make it as for as the stomach. I would be more concerned about another type of poisoning or disease processing that is causing Kita to vomit blood and defecate in the house, a visit to your Veterinarian may be required for a check up as the potential list of conditions are too many to mention. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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