What is Wild Arum Poisoning?
Having flowers indoors and out brightens up any home or office. When people look for unique flowers, many find the wild arum and immediately want it. While it is a gorgeous plant, it is a danger to dogs and other animals if they bite into it. If this happens, your dog will immediately begin to experience pain and burning of the mouth. Wild arum contains insoluble calcium oxalate crystals which lead to damage of the mouth. He will need to be seen by a veterinarian to ensure the crystals get out of his system entirely. If he receives the proper medical attention, he should recover without a problem.
Wild arum can be described as having the appearance of a calla lily, but with a unique maroon color. If your dog bites into this plant or ingests any amount of it, he will develop symptoms of toxicity such as mouth irritation and respiratory issues . If this occurs, contact your veterinarian.
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Symptoms of Wild Arum Poisoning in Dogs
As soon as your dog bites into the wild arum plant, he will begin to experience pain and negative side effects from the toxin the plant contains. Your dog may develop symptoms such as:
- 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
Wild arum is an ornamental plant in the typical shape of a calla lily except it blooms in a unique deep purple and maroon color. It is native to Israel and is also known as kardi, priest’s hood, black calla, wild calla, and Solomon’s lily. Scientifically, it belongs to the Araceae family with the scientific name of Arum palaestinum or can sometimes be found spelled Arum palestinum.
Causes of Wild Arum Poisoning in Dogs
Wild arum produces insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. These crystals are found in many plants and lead to symptoms related to pain and irritation of the mouth. When your dog bites into the plant, the crystals and their sharp-edged shape cause damage to your dog’s tongue and mouth. Instead of dissolving when coming into contact with the moisture of the mouth, the crystals cut the tissue and causes injury. The entire wild arum plant contains the insoluble crystals, but the leaves contain the highest concentration.
Diagnosis of Wild Arum Poisoning in Dogs
When you first arrive at the veterinarian’s office, she will begin by performing a physical exam 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. She will not be able to see the crystals themselves, but she will be able to see any damage they have caused.
If your dog vomits while at the clinic, the veterinarian will examine the contents for any evidence as to what he ingested. Most dogs do not actually swallow any part of the wild arum. When he bites into the plant and immediately feels pain, his instinct is to spit it out, not swallow it. If your dog does vomit, it is unlikely any plant remnants will be present.
Blood work will be performed to give the veterinarian a broad look as to how the internal organs are functioning and to rule out other possible causes of his symptoms. A complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry panel will provide the veterinarian with needed information for proper assessment of organ function. 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 from the oxalates. If possible, bring a piece of the plant to the clinic; this will help the veterinarian make a definitive diagnosis.
Treatment of Wild Arum 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 to the sensitive tissue of his mouth. This should offer your dog some much needed relief.
If your dog begins to develop breathing difficulties due to swelling of the airway from tissue damage, your veterinarian may start your dog on oxygen via flow-by or place him 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.
Just as in any toxicity case, your dog will be started on fluid therapy to flush the toxin from his body and to ensure he remains hydrated. The fluid therapy will prevent the kidneys from shutting down as well as correcting and preventing any level of dehydration your dog may be experiencing. 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 Wild Arum Poisoning in Dogs
Since most cases of wild arum poisoning are relatively mild, the prognosis for a full recovery is good. 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. There are medications and additional therapies the veterinarian can send home to ensure your dog is comfortable and recovers completely.
Educate yourself about the plants you have in and around your home. Wild arum has a unique color so many people enjoy having this plant in their home. However, they do not realize the danger it poses to their dog. 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.