Oleander (also known as nerium) is a shrub or a small tree, with toxicity all over its parts. It is cultivated in so many places that it is hard to identify a place of origin. This plant is popular for its delicate flowers. It is normally found in warm places.
Characteristics of Oleander
The Oleander plant blooms throughout the summer and into the fall. It can grow from 6 to 19.7 ft tall and bear in conditions of high wind and drought.
The leaves all appear in pairs or sets of three. They are dark green and narrow. The flowers grow in clusters of white, pink to red flowers.
Some of the flowers are sweet-scented and will develop into fruits, which are long narrow pairs of follicles.
Toxicity to Animals
Consumption of any part of an Oleander can have lethal consequences for both humans and animals. The most toxin is held in the roots and stems. The toxin is also found in high concentrations in the flowers, leaves, seeds, fruit, nectar, and sap.
The plants of Oleander contain natural poisons known as glycoside toxins that can affect the heart, such as cardenolides and bufadienolides. They take action by interfering directly with the heart muscle’s electrolyte balance.
The toxin in some Oleander plants resembles digoxin or digitalis, which is a medication commonly used for the heart in both human and animals. There is no exact dose that is considered to be lethal to dogs or cats. There is a general thought that 0.005% of an animal’s weight in dry leaves of the plant will be lethal for a horse and ruminants.
For dogs, the lethal dose suggested is about .25 milligram of green leaves per kilogram of body weight.
Symptoms to Look For
The clinical symptoms after the ingestion of any part of the Oleander plant include cardiovascular signs that manifest as abnormal heart rhythm and rate.
Other symptoms of Oleander toxicosis includes:
- Drooling in dogs and cats
- Vomiting in dog and cats
What to Do
If you suspect that your pet has ingested an Oleander plant take him to the veterinarian immediately. When the ingestion is very recent (within an hour), vomiting is induced. If you live in areas where the plants grow profusely in the wild, take care of off-leash pets.
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