What is Winterberry Poisoning?
There are many kinds of houseplants that are commonly purchased, yet are toxic to pets. Winterberry is one such plant. Canines may not consume large amounts of the plant due to the sharp leaves, but there are dogs who will push past the pain in order to graze on the plant. If you have discovered that your dog has eaten any part of the plant, it is suggested that you go to the veterinarian’s office.
Your pet may experience drooling, pawing at the mouth, and gastrointestinal disturbances like diarrhea; if a large amount of winterberry was ingested the effects could be serious enough to warrant a hospital stay.
Winterberry poisoning affects dogs, cats, and horses. The berries and leaves of this plant are toxic, though typically at a milder level than other similar plants.
Book First Walk Free!
Symptoms of Winterberry Poisoning in Dogs
Winterberry, also known as winter holly, comes from the Aquifoliaceae family. The scientific name is Ilex verticillata. Symptoms of winterberry poisoning will be contingent on the current health status of your pet, his age, and how much of the plant he consumed. Fortunately, toxicity involving this plant is often mild as the sharp leaves render the plant less palatable.
- Difficulty breathing
- Excess salivation
- Swelling in and around the mouth
- Irritation of the throat and mouth
- Difficulty swallowing
There are different names for Winterberry which include:
- European Holly
- English Holly
- Oregon Holly
- American Holly
Causes of Winterberry Poisoning in Dogs
- Saponins contained in the winterberry plant are concentrated in the berries
- The leaves are sharp and spiny which may cause damage to the tongue and throat if eaten
- Changes in the red blood cells will cause toxicity in your pet
Diagnosis of Winterberry Poisoning in Dogs
Laboratory tests, including urinalysis, packed cell volume of the blood, and a complete blood count may indicate the condition of winterberry poisoning. Clinical signs can contribute to the diagnosis as will any pertinent information that you can provide. If you have a sample of the plant ingested, the veterinary team can identify the plant which will, in turn, assist in the treatment decision.
Canines do not have a digestive system suitable for consuming large amounts of greenery; when the veterinarian performs the physical examination he may palpate the abdomen to verify if a mass is present. If your dog is presenting symptoms related to an obstruction, the veterinarian may choose to use imaging tools such as an x-ray or ultrasound.
If your pet is vomiting, portions of the plant may be visible in the stomach contents. This observation, along with the clinical signs and laboratory test results, may confirm your suspicions fairly quickly.
Treatment of Winterberry Poisoning in Dogs
Once your pet is diagnosed, your veterinarian will commence appropriate treatment. The initial treatment step will be to induce vomiting. The veterinary specialist may repeat this process after twenty minutes if a large amount of winterberry was consumed. The veterinarian may begin intravenous therapy to provide extra fluids since vomiting and diarrhea symptoms, if severe, could cause dehydration. In addition, the fluids will help to encourage urination, allowing for optimal kidney and liver function. Detox measures (such as activated charcoal and gastric lavage) may be applied to flush the internal organs and cleanse the body of all poisoning.
If medication is required to ease nausea, protect the stomach, or increase appetite, the intravenous will used for administration. Observation of your dog will be continuous throughout the treatment.
Recovery of Winterberry Poisoning in Dogs
If you plan your garden planting, you can safely place your winterberry plant in an area that your dog cannot access. Clean up fallen berries and leaves to prevent your curious canine from experimenting with the plant.
Once your pet has been released from veterinary care, you can expect a full and fast recovery. Symptoms of dehydration and vomiting typically cease fairly quickly after treatment, but your dog will need rest and quiet at home, with access to water. If hospitalization is needed, the recovery time will be longer, but in most cases, this is not necessary.