What is Straight Margined Dracaena Poisoning?
Dracaena marginata is often referred to as straight margined dracaena, red margined dracaena, and dragon tree. It is frequently enjoyed as a houseplant due to its hardiness and ease of care. Saponins that are found throughout the plant may cause serious gastrointestinal distress as well as loss of coordination, weakness, and increased heart rate, though it is not generally considered to be lethal. If your dog has consumed any part of this plant, your veterinarian should be contacted for further instructions. Depending on the symptoms showing and the amount ingested, you may be given home care instructions or asked to bring the animal in for supportive therapies.
Plants in the Dracaena family, such as Dracaena Marginata, contain compounds called saponins that can cause gastrointestinal distress and mild to moderate impairment of the central nervous system.
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Symptoms of Straight Margined Dracaena Poisoning in Dogs
Symptoms of poisoning from Dracaena plants tend to be mild unless large quantities of the plant are consumed. Initial symptoms are very similar to the symptoms from more dangerous toxins as well, so if you are at all uncertain of the origin of the poison, it may be wise to transport your pet to the emergency clinic.
- Abdominal pain
- Excessive drooling
- Increased heart rate
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of coordination
There are several plants in the Dracaena family that carry these saponins. Some of the more commonly seen plants in this family can include:
- Dracaena braunii - This plant is often marketed as lucky bamboo, but is not closely related to true bamboo at all; also known as curly bamboo and ribbon dracaena, it is commonly seen in both houses and places of business to promote happiness and prosperity
- Dracaena draco - This plant is a drought tolerant tree-like plant which secretes a reddish resin which is one of several plant based substances known as dragon’s blood
- Warneckeii dracaena - Also known as striped dracaena or the Jenny Craig plant, this evergreen is popular as a houseplant due to its beautiful lance-shaped leaves that are approximately two feet in length
Causes of Straight Margined Dracaena Poisoning in Dogs
Plants classified in the Dracaena family contain multiple noxious saponins throughout the plant. These saponins are non-toxic to humans but mildly to moderately intoxicating for both dogs and cats. If your cat ingests this plant, it will show all of the symptoms common to canines, as well as dilated pupils. If you catch your pets sampling this plant, you should contact your veterinarian for further instructions right away.
Diagnosis of Straight Margined Dracaena Poisoning in Dogs
If the ingestion of the plant was observed, identification of the dracaena combined with symptomatology is often all that the veterinary team will need for an initial diagnosis. If you did not witness the ingestion of the plant, your dog’s doctor will ask you questions regarding any opportunistic eating that is suspected in addition to any concurrent prescriptions or supplements that your dog is taking. This is done to try and deduce which toxin is culpable for the symptoms that are showing. A complete blood count (CBC) will also be used to this end, as will a biochemistry profile and urinalysis with particular emphasis made on results in regards to liver and kidney functionality.
If an intestinal blockage is causing the difficulty, rather than the toxin in the plant, the veterinarian may discover that the abdomen is extremely sensitive to touch, or may be able to feel a mass where the leaves have clumped together, which would prompt a recommendation for further imaging. X-ray, ultrasound, or even a barium study may be selected to accurately visualize the possible obstruction.
Treatment of Straight Margined Dracaena Poisoning in Dogs
Treatment for poisoning by dracaena plant is generally guided by the symptoms that the patient is displaying as well as the length of time since the ingestion of the plant. If your dog is in obvious distress when visiting the office, supportive treatment including therapy with IV fluids may be started before a final diagnosis is determined. In some cases, gastric decontamination is required in order to remove as much of the toxin from the patient’s system as possible. These steps could include the induction of vomiting, gastric irrigation, and to soak up any remaining toxins, the administration of activated charcoal.
If your pet is vomiting excessively, or vomiting does not stop after 12 to 24 hours, a period of withholding food may be utilized until the vomiting has ceased for at least 12 hours. In the case of an intestinal blockage, therapies such as fluid therapy are generally employed to speed the mass through the system. Imaging will need to be repeated periodically in order to track the movement of the mass until it exits the digestive tract. In severe cases, surgery may be required to remove the obstruction and correct any damage that it has caused.
Recovery of Straight Margined Dracaena Poisoning in Dogs
Prognosis for poisoning caused by eating the dracaena plant is usually good. Even when the toxin does not instigate a reaction from your pet, eating too much vegetation can cause gastrointestinal distress or blockage. A pet who suddenly develops pica, which is the urge to eat large amounts of inappropriate items like vegetation may be responding other disorders such as brain lesions, circulatory abnormalities, or vitamin deficiencies, and should be checked by a veterinarian. The best way to keep your pet safe is by careful observation of their behavior and environment.