ISSN 2398-2950      

Plant poisoning: cyanide

ffelis

Introduction

  • A number of plants accumulate cyanogenic glycosides. These include:
    • Pitted fruits such as peaches, cherries and almonds.
    • Pome fruits such as apples and pears.
    • Elderberry.
    • Legumes such as clover and vetch.
    • A variety of grasses.
  • Of these, those of greatest risk to cats would most likely be the pits or seeds of pitted or pome fruits, which cats might eat out of curiosity. Rapid ingestion of a toxic dose is required to overcome detoxification processes.
  • Cyanide poisoning in the cat may also result from ingestion of cyanide baits laid to kill pests. Poisoning with these baits may be accidental or malicious.
  • Hydrogen cyanide can be released from certain synthetic materials during a house fire, but a cat that is distressed or comatose after it has been exposed to the smoke from a house fire should be treated with oxygen for carbon monoxide poisoning because this is more likely Smoke inhalation.
  • Generally there is not time to treat for both poisonings and the treatment for hydrogen cyanide poisoning may counteract the efficacy of treatment for CO poisoning.
  • Cyanide poisoning in pets is extremely uncommon.

Pathogenesis

Etiology

  • Cyanogenic glycosides or cyanide baits.

Pathophysiology

  • Cyanide combines with iron in cytochrome oxidase, preventing terminal electron transfer and blocking cellular respiration. Oxyhemoglobin cannot release oxygen. Although the blood is highly oxygenated and therefore a characteristic bright red, oxygen delivery to the tissues is poor and the pet becomes severely hypoxic.
  • Convulsions and death are due to cerebral hypoxia.

Timecourse

  • Peracute to acute, typically less than 30-60 minutes.

Diagnosis

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Treatment

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Outcomes

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed papers

Other sources of information

  • Plumlee Konnie H (editor) (2004) Clinical Veterinary Toxicology. Mosby.
  • Osweiler Gary D (1996) Toxicology. Williams and Wilkins.

Organisation(s)

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