What is Tree Philodendron Poisoning?
The tree philodendron is scientifically known as Philodendron selloum but there are countless other philodendron plants. All of the philodendron species are leafy and green and belong to the Araceae family. The most commonly seen toxicity symptoms of philodendron toxicity in dogs are irritation of the mouth and gastrointestinal system. Death is rare, but you should still seek veterinary attention for your dog if he develops symptoms of toxicity. With administration of supportive therapy, the prognosis for a full recovery is good.
The tree philodendron is a green, leafy plant that makes for a nice source of greenery in any home. While this plant provides a nice pop of color, it is toxic to your dog. If your dog chews on or ingests this plant, take him to a veterinarian.
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Symptoms of Tree Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
Symptoms of tree philodendron toxicity develop almost immediately after your dog bites or chews on the plant. Symptoms include
- Foaming at the mouth
- Oral pain
- Pawing at the mouth
- Irritation of mucous membranes
- Irritation of the tongue
- Irritation of the lips
- Swollen tongue
- Swollen pharynx
- Difficulty swallowing
- Respiratory distress
The tree philodendron belongs to the Araceae family and Philodendron genus. The exact scientific name of the tree philodendron is Philodendron selloum, but there are many species of philodendron plants. Basically, any plant with the word ‘philodendron’ in the common name or scientific name belongs in this category.
Causes of Tree Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
The tree philodendron 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.
Diagnosis of Tree Philodendron 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 you dog ingested 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 Tree Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
For any type of oral pain, drooling, or foaming at the mouth, the veterinarian may wash out your dog’s mouth. If your dog is vomiting excessively, the veterinarian will begin administration of fluid therapy with electrolytes. This will treat any dehydration and prevent it from becoming more severe. It will also help the body flush the toxin out quicker.
Your veterinarian may induce vomiting in your dog to get him to expel any remaining pieces of the plant from the stomach. If the vomit is clear and unsuccessful at producing any plant remnants, she may administer activated charcoal to bind any remaining toxin in the gastrointestinal tract before the body absorbs it.
If your dog is experiencing breathing difficulties, your veterinarian may start your dog on oxygen via flow-by or place him 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. An antihistamine will be administered to help decrease the swelling and you should begin to notice a reduction in swelling in 2 to 4 hours.
Recovery of Tree Philodendron Poisoning in Dogs
Toxicity from the tree philodendron may be considered mild to moderate. Since the toxin contains insoluble crystals, the sooner you wash out your dog’s mouth, the less damage the crystals can do. If part of the plant was swallowed, the crystals can also do damage to the gastrointestinal tract. However, with proper veterinary intervention, there is a good prognosis for a full recovery.
If you have the tree philodendron in or around your home, keep it in an area your pet does not have access to. If you have it inside, keep the plant at a height your pet cannot reach, even when standing on his hind legs. If you have this plant outside, keep your dog away from it or train him to not chew on foliage. If he learns to leave the plant alone, he will never have to suffer the consequences.