Shelter Health

Treating Poinsettia Ingestion

Poinsettias are primarily mucous-membrane irritants – and despite the worry they cause pet owners, the plants aren't usually too dangerous if treated properly. Test your skills with the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center's hypothetical case study of Abernathy, a Bichon Frise puppy, who chews on a Poinsettia.

Abernathy is a 16-week, 5-kg Bichon Frise puppy with no prior health issues. His owners rush him to your hospital on Christmas Eve because they caught him chewing on a Poinsettia leaf, and they have heard that the plants are deadly. You examine Abernathy and find he's a completely normal, bright, bouncy puppy. There are bite marks in the leaf and there is a 1cm-by-1cm area of leaf missing.

What's Your Next Best Step?

1. Give activated charcoal, start Abernathy on fluids, monitor for hypernatremia from the activated charcoal, and monitor him in hospital for 24 hours for severe gastrointestinal upset.

2. Induce emesis and send him on a 14-day course of gastrointestinal protectants.

3. Have his owners monitor at home for mild gastrointestinal upset.

The best answer is 3. Even though he is a small puppy, the signs that we see with this are generally mild and self-limiting.

The first answer isn't best because the risk of activated charcoal is more than the risk of the mild gastrointestinal signs that Abernathy may develop. The second answer isn't best because the piece of leaf is small and we are likely to see more GI upset by inducing emesis, rather than letting this run its course.

Check out other holiday plants that often cause more worry than warranted and these holiday pet-safety tips you can share with clients.

More APCC Resources

Visit us on Facebook for daily APCC news and conversation.

Read case studies, keep up to date on the latest research, and find out more about how APCC can help you by checking out all the resources available in the APCC section on ASPCApro.

Sign up for the monthly APCC newsletter here.

You Might Also Like

Shelter Health Poison Control How-to