What is Striped Dracaena Poisoning?
The striped dracaena is an easy to manage houseplant that can grow up to five feet tall in the right conditions. The striped dracaena has long and pointed, narrow green and white striped leaves. The entire striped dracaena is poisonous to dogs, although the most toxic parts are the berries and flowers. The symptoms your dog may exhibit if he ingests this plant can range from mild intestinal issues to serious heart rate problems. If you believe your dog ate any part of a striped dracaena, you should call your veterinarian immediately or take your dog to the animal hospital or clinic.
The striped dracaena is a common houseplant with a vibrant green color and yellow stripes on the leaves, but is dangerously toxic to your dog and other companion pets. You will most often find it growing outdoors in warm climates, such as Louisiana and Florida, but it is also used as an indoor houseplant, popular for its berries and flowers. If your dog eats any part of the striped dracaena, the symptoms shown can be mild to moderate, depending on how much and what part of the plant your dog consumed. The berries of the striped dracaena plant are the most toxic, and can cause more serious problems, such as increased heart rate and can even cause your dog to lose control of body movements. Since this is a plant that most people have in their homes, it is commonly a cause of plant toxicity.
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Symptoms of Striped Dracaena Poisoning in Dogs
Unfortunately, because the striped dracaena is a common plant, poisoning is not uncommon. Symptoms of poisoning include:
- Abdominal pain
- Appetite loss
- Dilated pupils
- Excessive drooling
- Increased heart rate
- Loss of control over bodily movements
- Stomach irritation
- Walking difficulty
The scientific name for the striped dracaena is Dracaena deremensis or Dracaena fragrans. This is a flowering plant species that is from the tropics of Africa, but it is popular as a houseplant in the United States. It can go by many names, which are:
- Corn plant
- Cornstalk dracaena
- Dracaena fragrans
- Dracaena massangeana
- Dragon tree
- Janet Craig plant
- Ribbon plant
Causes of Striped Dracaena Poisoning in Dogs
The poisonous compound in the striped dracaena is the steroidal saponin. This agent has the capability to foam when consumed and that is what causes the intestinal upset in your dog. Even though the striped dracaena has an unpleasant taste, many dogs will eat it anyway, causing symptoms that range from vomiting to increased heart rate. If you believe your dog has consumed any part of a striped dracaena, visit your veterinarian or animal hospital right away.
Diagnosis of Striped Dracaena Poisoning in Dogs
Bring a portion of the striped dracaena with you to the veterinarian to help aid in diagnosis. When you arrive, they will perform a physical examination, including overall condition, heart rate, breath sounds, respiratory rate, blood pressure, body temperature, weight, reflexes, and oxygen levels. Be sure to give them all the details about the incident, such as how much and what part of the plant your dog ate. You should also tell the veterinarian about your dog’s health history, vaccination records, unusual behavior, or appetite changes. Laboratory tests will be done next, including biochemical profile, complete blood count, urinalysis, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), electrolyte and glucose levels. To check if your dog is dehydrated, a packed cell volume (PCV) test will probably be done.
An endoscopy could also be performed to view the esophagus and remove any plant material. This procedure is done using an endoscope, which is a long, flexible tube with a camera on the end. Your dog will most likely be anesthetized during the procedure. An electrocardiogram (ECG) is sometimes performed to measure the electrical and muscular performance of the heart. Imaging done with x-ray, CT scan, MRI, and ultrasound may also be necessary.
Treatment of Striped Dracaena Poisoning in Dogs
Treatment will depend on how much your dog ate and what symptoms he is showing. Early decontamination can help reduce the symptoms, so the veterinarian will induce vomiting with a hydrogen peroxide medication. Also, activated charcoal is recommended if it has been less than three hours since ingestion. Depending on the electrolyte levels and PCV results, they will probably need to give your dog intravenous fluids. This helps flush the toxins from your dog’s body as well as rehydrates the system. Gastric lavage can be done to further empty the stomach of any poisons remaining in the body. Other supportive therapy may be administered depending on your dog’s needs.
Recovery of Striped Dracaena Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog is treated within the first 18 hours and there have been no renal system symptoms, the prognosis is good. If you have any questions or concerns once your dog is home and undergoing recovery, call your veterinarian. To prevent this from happening again, it is best to remove any striped dracaena plants you may have inside and outside your home.