What is Yew Pine Poisoning?
Yew pine (Podocarpus macrophylla), part of the Podocarpaceae family, are evergreen shrubs or trees that have needle-like leaves and pods. All parts of the tree can be toxic to dogs if ingested, with even small amounts leading to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, possibly causing dehydration in your dog. It is not clear what the chemical is within the yew pine that is poisonous, however the highest concentration of toxic chemicals is in its cones. Mainly growing in the south and the west, the yew pine is becoming more common in states with warm climates. The cones may be considered to be tasty by your dog, which could lead to his ingesting a lethal dose in a short period of time.
Yew pine, also known as Buddhist pine, are evergreen shrubs or trees, all parts of which can be toxic to dogs when consumed, leading to diarrhea and vomiting among other symptoms.
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Symptoms of Yew Pine Poisoning in Dogs
There are a variety of symptoms that may occur in your dog should he ingest yew pine and will depend upon which part of the plant he consumed, how much was eaten and his health prior to ingesting the poison. Symptoms may include the following:
- Abdominal pain
- Enlarged pupils
- Dehydration (as a result of vomiting and diarrhea)
- Difficulty breathing
- Dilated pupils
- Changes in heart rate
The yew pine is also known by the following names: Buddhist pine, yew plum pine, fern pine, and Southern yew.
Causes of Yew Pine Poisoning in Dogs
It is not clear what causes the yew pine to be poisonous. Multiple parts of the plant can be poisonous to your dog to include:
- Fruit (highest toxicity)
- Leaf blades
Diagnosis of Yew Pine Poisoning in Dogs
Should you see that your dog has ingested yew pine, or believe that he may have, it is important that you bring him to the veterinarian. It is best to bring a part of the plant you saw your dog eat or believe that he did eat, so that your veterinarian will be able to see what was likely ingested that led to his sickness. The sooner that your dog can be diagnosed, the sooner he will be able to begin treatment. Your veterinarian will first conduct a physical exam. An electrocardiogram (ECG) will be conducted should your dog have any cardiac symptoms liked an increased or decreased heart rate. This will allow your dog’s heart rate to be monitored. Your dog’s temperature will be taken, along with his blood pressure, and blood oxygen level. An oral examination may take place, as well as a vision and reflex test. You will want to be prepared to discuss with your veterinarian what symptoms you have noticed and when you first noticed them. The following laboratory tests may be conducted:
- Fecal examination
- Complete blood count
- Biochemistry profile
- Blood gas panel
- Glucose level
- Blood urea nitrogen (BUN)
- Endoscopy (to check for any remnants of the plant or fruit in his airway and esophagus)
- Chest and abdominal x-rays
- CT scan
Treatment of Yew Pine Poisoning in Dogs
In order to get the poison out of your dog’s system, your veterinarian will induce vomiting (if your dog has not already been doing so on his own). A gastric lavage may be performed next in order to rid your dog’s stomach of the toxins from the yew pine. Your veterinarian may use activated charcoal in order to soak up the toxins and keep them from being absorbed into your dog’s stomach or any of his other tissues.
Should your dog have been experiencing convulsions, your veterinarian will consider administering paraldehyde intravenously. This will reduce the anxiety your dog is experiencing and help him to relax. Depending upon his symptoms, your dog may be kept overnight for observation.
Recovery of Yew Pine Poisoning in Dogs
Once your veterinarian has released your dog to go home, it will be important that you keep him calm for a few days while he recovers from his illness. Resting in a crate may be recommended in order to limit his activity. Fresh water should be provided to your dog regularly and a bland diet will likely be recommended for about a week. Your veterinarian will provide you with information on how to best help your dog as he recovers, as well as let you know about when you should return with your dog for a follow-up appointment.