Indian hemp is a perennial herbaceous plant that includes cardiac glycosides such bufadienolides and cardenolides, which are toxic to cats if eaten. These substances alter the electrolyte balance of the heart’s contracting muscle. Any part of the Indian hemp plant that a cat consumes can have serious repercussions. As a result, the most common clinical indications are cardiovascular, but they can also be neurological or gastrointestinal.
What Is Indian Hemp or Dogbane Hemp?
Apocynum androsaemifolium is the scientific name for Indian hemp, and it is also known by the common names fly-trap dogbane and spreading dogbane. It is a herbaceous perennial native to North America, including the United States and southern half of Canada. It typically grows in forests, woodlands, forest edges, prairies, meadows, and fields.
This plant from the Apocynaceae plant family has branching stems, hairs on the underside of the leaves, and no hair on the stems. It also has a milky sap that can also be seen from its broken stems. The Indian hemp leaf margin is complete, and the leaf venation is alternate. Its leaves are pointed ovals, and its flowers are terminal on a stalk.
Clinical Signs of Indian Hemp or Dogbane Hemp Poisoning in Cats
Because the toxins’ direct target is the heart, a feline will primarily exhibit cardiac symptoms. The following are the clinical signs of feline Indian hemp poisoning:
- Weakness of the body
- Mucous membranes are blue in color which indicates insufficient blood oxygen levels
- Loss of appetite
- Dilated pupils
- Increased pulse rate
- Potassium levels that are potentially lethal
- Irregular heartbeat and heart rate
First Aid and Treatment of Indian Hemp or Dogbane Hemp Poisoning in Cats
If your cat’s toxicity is not life-threatening, the veterinarian will provide symptomatic and supportive treatment. This process may include inducing vomit by giving an emetic to your cat, or administering activated charcoal if your cat has not vomited yet. This substance bind with the toxic agent and prevents the cat’s body from absorbing more plant chemicals. The feline’s treatment may conclude with intravenous fluids to flush the toxin from his or her blood and restore hydration.
Other procedures and medications may still be given by the vet based on his diagnosis of your cat’s condition.
Recovery from Indian Hemp or Dogbane Hemp Poisoning in Cats
The prognosis for cats suffering from mild to moderate Indian hemp poisoning is usually favorable. If your cat consumed a large amount of Indian hemp and has underlying health issues, the prognosis may be bleak. To avoid negative consequences for your cats, it is critical that the poisoning symptoms be addressed as soon as possible.
Prevention of Indian Hemp or Dogbane Hemp Poisoning in Cats
Keeping your cats confined in your home is an ideal way of preventing them to be exposed to Indian hemp and even other toxic plants in your surroundings. Try utilizing cat cages or playpens to keep them engaged while safe. You can also install safety nets and build fences around your lot area to restrict your cat from wandering away from home.
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