What is Spotted Dumbcane Poisoning?
Many plants in the plant world contain calcium oxalate crystals; the spotted dumbcane is one of them. If your dog chews on or ingests this plant, he will immediately learn it was a poor choice. The most commonly seen symptoms of spotted dumbcane toxicity relate to irritation of the mouth, tongue, and lips. If you witnessed your dog chewing on this plant, contact your veterinarian. In more severe cases, damage to the gastrointestinal tract can occur if veterinary care is delayed. But in most cases, dogs recover well with just flushing of the mouth and basic supportive therapies.
The spotted dumbcane is an aesthetically pleasing, green potted plant commonly found in homes, offices, and businesses. If your dog chews on or ingests a part of this plant, take him to a veterinarian.
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Symptoms of Spotted Dumbcane Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog chews on or ingests the spotted dumbcane plant, symptoms develop almost immediately. Symptoms include
- Pawing at the mouth
- Oral irritation
- Irritation of the mouth
- Irritation of the tongue
- Irritation of the lips
- Foaming at the mouth
- Excessive drooling
- Swelling of the upper airway
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty breathing
The spotted dumbcane is commonly found as a potted plant indoors. This plant is known by the other common names of charming dieffenbachia, dumbcane, giant dumbcane, tropic snow, exotica, exotica perfection and dieffenbachia. Scientifically, the spotted dumbcane is known as Dieffenbachia amoena.
Causes of Spotted Dumbcane Poisoning in Dogs
The spotted dumbcane produces insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. The crystal shape of the oxalates and their insolubility cause damage to the mouth. Instead of dissolving when coming into contact with the moisture of the mouth, it cuts the tissue and causes injury. This trait is what causes all the symptoms related to oral irritation. These crystals can also cause damage to the gastrointestinal lining if a piece of the plant is ingested.
Diagnosis of Spotted Dumbcane Poisoning in Dogs
Your veterinarian will begin by performing a physical examination on your dog. This will allow her to assess his symptoms and note any abnormalities of his vitals. If your dog is drooling excessively or displaying other symptoms of oral pain, the veterinarian will take special care when examining his mouth to note any abnormalities. If your dog vomits while at the clinic, the veterinarian will examine the contents for any evidence as to what he ingested.
Blood work will be performed to give the veterinarian a broad look as to how the internal organs are functioning. A complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry panel will provide the veterinarian with needed information for proper assessment. A packed cell volume (PCV) may also be performed to determine hydration status. If your veterinarian feels it is necessary, she may also perform a urinalysis for further evaluation of kidney function.
If you believe or witnessed your dog eating this plant, take a piece of it with you to the veterinarian clinic. This will allow for proper identification of the plant your dog consumed and the toxin it contains.
Treatment of Spotted Dumbcane Poisoning in Dogs
For any type of oral pain, drooling, or foaming at the mouth, the veterinarian may wash out your dog’s mouth. This should remove any of the remaining crystals and prevent further injury from occurring. An antihistamine may be administered to help decrease the swelling and you should begin to see a noticeable reduction in 2 to 4 hours.
If your dog is experiencing breathing difficulties, your veterinarian may start your dog on oxygen via flow-by or place them in an oxygen cage. If your dog is experiencing severe difficulties and swelling, the veterinarian may have to intubate him and maintain oxygen administration via intubation until he stabilizes.
The veterinarian may attempt to flush his stomach to remove any remaining plant particles. If this is unsuccessful, she may administer activated charcoal to absorb the remainder of the toxin before the body absorbs it. If the lining of the stomach or the intestine does not receive proper protective medications, it can lead to irreversible damage that may require surgical correction.
In addition to these supportive therapies, medications may be administered to combat other symptoms. For example, if your dog is not eating, the veterinarian may administer an appetite stimulant. Additional administration of medications will be determined by your veterinarian depending on your dog’s needs.
Recovery of Spotted Dumbcane Poisoning in Dogs
Toxicity from the spotted dumbcane may be considered mild to moderate. With supportive therapies, prognosis for a full recovery is considered good. Once the crystals are rinsed from your dog’s mouth, they will no longer be able to cause damage and therefore the development of new irritation should cease. Your dog’s mouth may be sensitive for a while due to injuries from the crystals, but it will heal in time.
Even the most well behaved dog gets curious, but he may quickly learn chewing on the spotted dumbcane was a huge mistake. If you have this plant in or around your home, keep it in an area your dog does not have access to. For his own good, teach him to leave the plant alone or you may have to remove the plant from your home for his own safety.