05 Mar National Pet Poison Prevention Month
National Pet Poisons Prevention Month is here, and to contribute to this important initiative we will be sharing a series of informative posts on five common poisons. To kick it off we wanted to talk about plants.
In 2020, nearly 1 in every 10 calls to the Animal Poisons Helpline was regarding plant exposures. Many of these calls are about plants that contain needle shaped crystal structures known as raphides. Such plants include but are certainly not limited to the peace lily, dumb cane, devil’s ivy, and the elephant ear.
The crystal structures contained throughout these plants are housed in specialised ejector cells known as idioblasts. When an animal bites into or swallows the plant material, the needle shaped raphides are literally ejected from the idioblasts and deposit into the tongue, lips, and throat. As you can imagine, this can be immediately painful.
Within minutes, dogs and cats will often start drooling and scratching at their mouth. Animals may be reluctant to eat or drink and vomiting can occur if any plant material has been swallowed. In some cases, swelling of the tongue and throat can occur and this can rarely lead to breathing difficulties which could be life-threatening.
Prevention is always better than a cure. If you have a curious pet, always check the safety of plants in and around your home. If your pet has eaten or potentially eaten any plant material, phone the Animal Poisons Helpline on 1300 869 738 (AU) or 0800 869 738 (NZ) or your vet immediately, even if your pet looks well.
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