What is Taro Vine Poisoning?
With the taro vine having so many names, it can be confusing. Luckily, this plant has a unique look to it making it easier to identify by sight versus name. The leaves are a combination or yellow and green with the green outlining the yellow. Taro vine toxicity may be considered mild since it mainly causes symptoms of oral irritation. If you witness your dog chewing on or ingesting this plant, take them to a veterinarian before more severe symptoms develop. Most dogs recover well with supportive therapies alone. However, if you wait too long to receive veterinary care, his bladder may begin to form crystals in the urine which can lead to other medical issues. The sooner you seek veterinary attention, the higher his chances of a full, uncomplicated recovery.
The taro vine goes by many different names making it difficult to identify by name. However, it is easily recognized by sight due to its distinct markings on its leaves. If you witness your dog ingesting this plant, contact your veterinarian immediately.
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Symptoms of Taro Vine Poisoning in Dogs
Symptoms of taro vine poisoning develop almost immediately after your dog chews on this plant. Symptoms include
- Pawing at the mouth
- Irritation of the eyes
- Irritation of the mouth
- Irritation of the lips
- Irritation of the tongue
- Excessive drooling
- Foaming at the mouth
- Oral inflammation
- Difficulty swallowing
- Respiratory distress
- Calcium oxalate crystalluria
The taro vine goes by many names. The scientific name of taro vine used to be Scindapsus aureus and is still identified under this name in Europe. Today, the taro vine is known in Canada and America as Epipremnum pinnatum. Botanists call it Epipremnum aures, a combination of these two names. Common names for the taro vine include devil’s ivy, devil’s vine, ivy arum, silver vine, and Australian native monstera.
Causes of Taro Vine Poisoning in Dogs
The taro vine 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. The entire taro vine plant contains the toxins, but the leaves contain the highest concentration.
Diagnosis of Taro Vine Poisoning in Dogs
When you first arrive at the veterinarian’s office, she 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 suspects crystalluria, she may perform a urinalysis for further evaluation of kidney function and to check for crystal formation in the urine. 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 Taro Vine Poisoning in Dogs
For any type of oral pain, drooling, or foaming at the mouth, the veterinarian may attempt to wash out your dog’s mouth. This will rinse any remaining crystals from your dog’s mouth to prevent further damage.
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 swelling, the veterinarian may have to intubate him and maintain oxygen administration via intubation until he stabilizes. An antihistamine will be administered to help decrease the swelling and you should begin to notice a decrease in swelling in 2 to 4 hours.
Your dog will be started on fluid therapy to flush the toxin from the body quicker, to prevent the kidneys from shutting down and to correct and prevent dehydration. With the possibility of crystals forming in the urine, the fluids will continuously push liquid into him. This will make him need to urinate frequently enough for the urine to not remain in the bladder long enough to allow the formation of crystals.
Recovery of Taro Vine Poisoning in Dogs
Since most cases of taro vine poisoning are relatively mild, the prognosis for a full recovery is excellent. Once the oxalate crystals are rinsed from your dog’s mouth, no more injury should occur. If your dog is experiencing crystalluria, once the toxin has passed through his body, formation of crystals in the urine should cease.
Educate yourself about the plants you have in and around your home. Many dogs do not disturb plants, but even the most well behaved dog can get curious. If you have this plant in your home, keep it at a height your dog cannot reach, even when standing on his hind legs. If you have this plant outside your home, keep it in an area your dog does not have access to and teach him to not chew on or ingest foliage. The best thing you can do for your dog is to avoid taro vine poisoning all together.