Felis ISSN 2398-2950

Plant poisoning: calcium oxalate

Synonym(s): insoluble oxalate poisoning

Contributor(s): Rosalind Dalefield, Patricia Talcott

Introduction

  • A number of plants, including many popular house plants, contain insoluble, needle-like crystals of calcium oxalate which can cause severe irritation of the mouth and pharynx.
  • Plants include:
    • Elephant's ear (Alocasia or Caladium or Xanthsoma).
    • Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum).
    • Flamingo plant (Anthurium).
    • Wild calla (Calla).
    • Dumbcane (Dieffenbachia) Leopard lily (Dieffenbachia spp).
    • Philodendron (PhilodendronPhilodendron.
    • Split-leaf philodendron = fruit salad plant (Monstera).
    • Peace lily (Spathiphyllum).
    • Skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus).
    • Devil's ivy (PothosEpipremnum Scindapsus).
    • Cuckoo pint (Arum maculatum).
    • Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestrum).
    • Calla or arum lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica).

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Needle-like crystals of calcium oxalate penetrate the mucosa of the mouth and pharynx. Some of these plants, such as Dumbcane (Dieffenbachia Leopard lily (Dieffenbachia spp)), also contain proteolytic enzymes which trigger the release of histamine and kinins, increasing the inflammatory response.

Predisposing factors

General

  • Access to plants; recent introduction and therefore a novelty to a pet.
  • Boredom or stress may be a factor.

Timecourse

  • Onset is rapid; immediately or within 2 hours.
  • Most cats recover fully within 24 hours.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Prevention

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

Other sources of information

  • Osweiler G D (1996) Toxicology. Williams and Wilkins.
  • Plumlee K H (ed) Clinical Veterinary Toxicology. Mosby.

Organisation(s)


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