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Frequently (and not so frequently) Asked Questions

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BRIEF: Do you think that my dog is going to get worse?


QUESTION:
On Friday, the dog (40 lb lab mix) was left in the yard all day and upon returning home, we found she had dug up and chewed up the japonica. The only remains left of the plant was a fist size portion of the root ball (don't recall if it appeared "alive or dead"). I should note that the japonica (1-2 gallon size) was already (presumed) dead, since shortly after planting in early to mid August, it became very hot and the leaves scorched and fell off, and the plant turned completely brown. Sunday morning, we took the dog for a walk and she ran into a metal stake and hit the right side of her face, but was not phased. Late Monday night, we noticed her left eye was a bit swollen. Over the night, we noticed her right eye was now a bit swollen and the swelling on her left eye had gone down in comparison. Tuesday morning both eyes were still a bit swollen, but now her cheeks were also swollen. She looked in pain but was her normal active self so we were not overly concerned thinking that she was bruised up from bumping into the stake. This morning (Wednesday), we noticed that her eyes and cheeks are back to normal but now her ears are swollen. Again, her overall health appears ok. Is it possible that she is having a reaction to eating the plant (although it was dead, or maybe not?)? If so, does it appear that she received a "low dose" of poison and it is now working it's way out, or is it preparing to get worse? We are trying to determine if we should take her to the vet for medication or treatment. I know you are not a vet, but I thought that since you were familiar with the toxin of this plant, that I would check with you first (pardon my ignorance, maybe vets are familiar with this).

ANSWER:

As you recall, we did find that this plant was potentially harmful to dogs, but didn't think your lab would eat enough to harm her. Obviously, your dog is a bit unusual in this regard. The toxin would certainly be in the leaves stems, and roots. I can't imagine why your dog would eat a dead bush, but she did and it would not surprise me if she suffered an intoxication as a result. Watery eyes and nose are among the symptoms as are dizziness and salivation, signs of irritation to the mouth and mucous membranes. Low blood pressure, convulsions and death can occur eventually, although if this were going to happen, you should have already seen it. An open question is what else did this animal of such omnivorous and prodigous appetite eat? If she can eat a bush, is she eating other potentially harmful materials? And why is she doing this? I presume she is well-fed, so boredom could be a contributing factor here. I am not a vet or a trained behavioral scientist, but if I were you, I would find one or both in a hurry to help you restore this dog to health. And the more running and playful interaction you can provide for this dog, the better.