Oleander poisonous to dogs

Oleander

Oleander is an outdoor shrub, popular for its evergreen qualities and delicate flowers. Found commonly in warm locations (e.g., along highways in Hawaii, California, Texas, etc.), all parts of this plant are poisonous to multiple species (e.g., dogs, cats, humans, horses, cattle, etc.). Oleander contains naturally-occurring poisons that affect the heart, specifically cardenolides or bufadienolides. These poisons are called cardiac glycoside toxins, and they interfere directly with electrolyte balance within the heart muscle. The following plants are known to contain glycosides (please see specific plant for more information):

  • Dogbane
  • Giant milkweed
  • Foxglove
  • Kalanchoe
  • Lily of the valley
  • Milkweed
  • Star of Bethlehem

The toxins within these plants are similar to digitalis or digoxin, a common heart medication used in both human and veterinary medicine. The level of poisoning varies with the particular plant, part of the plant, and amount consumed. All parts of the plant are generally considered toxic – even the water in the vase has been reported to cause toxicosis. Clinical signs from ingestion include cardiovascular signs (e.g., abnormal heart rhythm and rate), electrolyte abnormalities (e.g., a life-threatening high potassium level), gastrointestinal signs (e.g., nausea, drooling, vomiting, etc.), or central nervous system signs (e.g., tremors, seizures). In severe cases, an expensive antidote, digoxin-specific Fab fragments, can be used for severe, life-threatening cases.

Oleander Poisoning in Dogs

Oleander is toxic when eaten by dogs. In fact, common oleander (Cerium oleander), which is a popular landscaping plant in warm climate areas of the United States, is severely toxic to dogs, cats, and horses.

How Is Oleander Poisonous to Dogs?

Oleander contains compounds that act as cardiac glycosides. These are toxins that affect a dog’s heart by interrupting the electrolyte balance there. The result is life-threatening heart rhythm disturbances.

All parts of the oleander plant, including flowers, leaves, fruit, stems, and roots, contain cardiac glycosides and are poisonous if ingested by a dog.

Signs of Oleander Toxicity in Dogs

Dogs that eat oleander may show some or all of the following signs within 30 minutes:

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Pupil dilation
  • Listlessness
  • Weakness
  • Wobbliness
  • Tremors
  • Abnormal heart rhythm (atrial or ventricular fibrillation)

Diagnosis of Canine Oleander Poisoning

There are blood tests that can confirm the presence of oleander’s toxins in a dog’s bloodstream, but it takes too long to get the results when a dog has been poisoned. Usually, a diagnosis is made on suspicion based on history and clinical signs.

A dog’s blood potassium levels are usually high during oleander poisoning, which can help confirm a veterinarian’s suspicions.

How Is Oleander Toxicity in Dogs Treated?

Vomiting is usually induced if a dog has eaten oleander and hasn’t already vomited on his own. Activated charcoal is then given, which can help bind remaining oleander and move it through the dog’s system with less absorption.

Dogs with oleander toxicity are hospitalized, placed on intravenous fluids, and given medications as needed. Electrolyte levels and heart rate are monitored.

There is an antidote to oleander poison, Digibind, but it’s expensive and not widely available.

Dogs with oleander toxicity have a good prognosis if it is caught early and treated aggressively, but the longer the toxins have to affect the heart, the worse the long-term prognosis is because long-term heart damage is done.

Prevention of Oleander Poisoning in Dogs

It’s important to be aware of plants that are toxic to dogs and keep them out of your yard. Keeping your dog on a leash when you are out and about is also important.

Learn more about other dangers for dogs outside here: “Garden Threats for Dogs.”

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Top 10 Dog Toxins – Slideshow

Foods Toxic to Dogs – Slideshow

Mushroom Toxicity in Dogs

Why Is Chocolate Bad for Dogs?

Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at DogHealth.com is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site. Just Answer is an external service not affiliated with DogHealth.com.

Dangerous beauty: Oleander toxicosis in dogs, horses and more

Pink oleander (Nerium oleander) flowers. (Photos courtesy of Dr. Lynn Hovda)Recent print news about the deliberate and malicious poisoning of a dog and two horses with oleander baits was confirmed in the April 2016 California Food Animal Health and Food Safety (CFAHS) bulletin.1 An 18-year-old draft horse and a dog died after ingesting baits placed along a fence line and in a horse paddock. A second horse developed clinical signs but recovered. The baits appeared to be cookies and contained “oats, shredded apples, carrots, and molasses” as well as “very small green leaf fragments throughout.”1 Analysis of the baits showed large amounts of oleandrin, one of the toxins found in the shrub Nerium oleander.1

The culprit

Nerium oleander (common oleander) and Thevetia peruviana (yellow oleander) are the two most common species of oleander in the dogbane family Apocynaceae.2,3 Nerium oleander is native to the Mediterranean region and T. peruviana to tropical America regions. Both species are currently grown as ornamental evergreen shrubs in many tropical and subtropical areas, but N. oleander is the prevalent species in the United States. Although a few hardy varieties exist elsewhere in the United States, N. oleander is found primarily in the Southern states and California.4 Little T. peruviana is present in these areas. More frequently it is used as an ornamental shrub in many parts of Mexico and Central American countries. Let’s concentrate on N. oleander.

Pretty poison

Nerium oleander is well-described as a shrub or small tree growing to heights of six to 12 feet.2,3 The narrow leaves, often described as lancet-shaped, are dark green with rather distinct yellowish veins and grow in pairs or whorls of three.

Oleander leaves.Clusters of two- to three-inch-diameter, five-lobed, fringed, white-, pink-, salmon- or red-colored flowers are found at the branch ends. Fruits are present as a long, slender pod or capsule with downy seeds, and the sap is clear and sticky.

All parts of the N. oleander plant are toxic.2,3,5 Cardiac glycosides, the known toxins, are found in the roots, stems, leaves, flowers, seeds and fruit as well as sap, plant nectar and even water in which oleander leaves have been floating.2,6 Roots and stems contain the highest amount of toxin, with the amount in leaves and flowers following closely behind.2,3 Interestingly, the total cardiac glycoside content is reported to be highest in plants with red flowers.2,5 A number of different cardenolide glycosides have been identified in N. oleander, with some references suggesting there may be as many as 30 separate glycosides.3,7 Oleandrin, however, with a mechanism of action similar to digoxin or digitoxin, remains the most widely recognized cardiac glycoside in most scientific papers.2,3

A little goes a long way

The toxic dose of N. oleander varies depending on the plant part and concentration of toxin. It is difficult to find a single toxic dose that includes all animal species. Most suggested toxic doses are related to leaves, although it is often hard to know whether they are green or dry leaves. An ingested dose of 0.005% of an animal’s weight in dry leaves is generally considered lethal to horses and ruminants.4,5 This amount is equal to about 10 to 20 leaves for a mature horse. Other ruminant studies suggested a minimal lethal dose of 50 mg leaves/kg.8 This information is complicated by a suggested lethal dose in sheep of 110 mg dry leaves/kg6 and much larger amounts in goats.8 Recently, a suggested dose of 0.25 mg green leaves/kg was associated with poisoning in dogs.7

Heart-stopping effects, among others

Cardiac glycosides act at the cellular level to inhibit the sodium-potassium-ATPase pump present on cardiac myocytes.2-4 The overall change is an increased concentration of intracellular sodium and corresponding increase in extracellular potassium. In addition, an influx of extracellular calcium along with release of bound intracellular calcium from the sarcoplasmic reticulum results in an increased force of cardiac contraction (positive inotropic effect).2-4 The accompanying increase in sympathetic outflow causes a decrease or alteration in normal electrical conduction causing atrioventricular (AV) blocks, ventricular arrhythmias and asystole.

The cardiovascular, gastrointestinal (GI) and neurologic systems are all affected. Clinical signs in all animal species generally occur with 30 minutes to a few hours of ingestion. GI signs include hypersalivation, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Horses may show decreased GI motility, colic and evidence of renal failure.4,9 Recently, clinical signs consistent with hypoglycemia were reported in a dog ingesting oleander leaves.9 Sinus bradycardia, AV block, atrial fibrillation or ventricular fibrillation are commonly reported cardiovascular dysrhythmias.2,4,7,9 Neurologic signs include lethargy, drowsiness, weakness, tremors, ataxia and mydriasis.

A single pink oleander flower.Fingering the guilty party

The diagnosis is based on a history of plant ingestion, description of plant and parts ingested and time of ingestion. The history of plant ingestion, presence of hyperkalemia, and electrocardiographic abnormalities support oleander toxicosis but are not a definitive diagnosis. Several toxicologic methods of diagnosis are currently available but take some time to obtain and may not be effective in guiding clinical care. Currently several different immunoassays are available for confirming the presence of N. Oleander cardiac glycosides in blood.2,4,9 Of these, the specific digoxin immunoassay (Digoxin III-Abbott Laboratories) is a rapid and sensitive test for the determining presence of oleandrin and therefore N. Oleander in blood.2 The definitive diagnosis for legal cases, however, is liquid chromatography mass spectrometry analysis of biological fluids.

Ameliorating the effects

If animals are physiologically capable of vomiting and are not already doing so, emesis should be induced if presented within the first hour or so after ingestion. This should be followed with a single dose of activated charcoal with a cathartic and two additional doses of activated charcoal administered every six to eight hours. In animals, such as horses, that are unable to vomit, mineral oil via a nasogastric tube followed one to two hours later with activated charcoal is recommended. Hospitalization is required for all animals with known ingestions, as is close electrocardiographic monitoring for 24 hours if clinical signs are present. Baseline blood glucose and electrolyte (including serum potassium) concentrations and serum chemistry profile results (including BUN and creatinine concentrations) are useful for guiding therapy.4,7,9 Digoxin specific FAB fragments (Digibind-GlaxoSmithKline) have been used successfully to reverse the cardiac effects of N. oleander exposure, but their high cost may preclude use.2,4,9

Further therapy is supportive and based on clinical signs. Early but cautious use of intravenous fluids is needed to maintain blood pressure yet not overload the cardiovascular system. Atropine or glycopyrrolate are options for treating bradycardia, although in some severe situations a temporary pacemaker may be needed. Lidocaine or procainamide may be needed if the animal is persistently tachycardic and nonresponsive to intravenous fluids, has severe ventricular dysrhythmias or has evidence of poor perfusion (hypotension, pulse deficits, tachycardia, pale mucous membranes, prolonged capillary refill time). Antiemetics and gastric protectants are indicated in most cases. Fructose-1,6-diphosphate has been used successfully in experimentally poisoned dogs to lessen the severity of cardiac effects, but clinical use has not been examined.7 Calcium channel blockers and beta-blockers are contraindicated as they can have additive effects on AV conduction and may result in complete heart block.

Is there hope?

It is difficult to provide a prognosis, as each case is unique. Many animals, in particular large animals such as horses and cows, are often found dead in the pasture. Survival is increased in those animals provided with timely intervention and appropriate care. The occurrence of severe cardiac arrhythmias complicates recovery but is not insurmountable.

Animal caretakers, in particular those with small animals, are advised to learn to identify N. oleander, recognize the environmental presence and keep animals far from it. Nerium oleander grows wild in many parts of Texas, Arizona, Nevada and California, and off-leash pets should be watched closely for any signs of exposure. Those individuals with large animals should be cognizant of what is growing in their pasture and along the fence lines. Shrub clippings, a common source of equine poisonings, should not be disposed of in the pasture or left along the fence line but discarded in areas away from any susceptible animals. It is only through continued vigilance that animals can be kept safe from this beautiful, yet deadly shrub. Sadly, even under the best of circumstances, poisonings continue to occur.

2. Bandara V, Weinstein SA, White J, et al. A review of the natural history, toxinology, diagnosis and clinical management of Nerium oleander (common oleander) and Thevetia peruviana (yellow oleander) poisoning. Toxicon 2010;56:273-281.

3. Kiran C, Prasad DN. A review on Nerium Oleander Linn. (Kaner). Int J Pharmacog and Phytochem Res 2014; 6:593-597.

4. Smith PA, Aldridge BM, Kittleson MD. Oleander toxicosis in a donkey. J Vet Intern Med 2003;17:111-114.

6. Aslani MR, Movassaghi AR, Mohri M, et al. Clinical and pathological aspects of experimental oleander (Nerium oleander) toxicosis in sheep. Vet Res Comm 2004;28:609-616.

7. Bellodi C, Socha JJM, Hatayde MR. Experimental poisoning of dogs with green leaves of Nerium oleander and use of fructose 1,6 diphosphate and glucose as treatment. PUBVET 2014;8:Art 1679.

9. Page C, Murtaugh RJ. Hypoglycemia associated with oleander toxicity in a dog. J Med Toxicol 2015; 11:141-143.

Lynn R. Hovda, RPh, DVM, MS, DACVIM

Director, Veterinary Services

SafetyCall International and Pet Poison Helpline

About Pet Poison Helpline

Pet Poison Helpline, an animal poison control center based out of Minneapolis, is available 24 hours, seven days a week for pet owners and veterinary professionals that require assistance treating a potentially poisoned pet. The staff provides treatment advice for poisoning cases of all species, including dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, large animals and exotic species. Pet Poison Helpline is available in North America by calling 800-213-6680. Additional information can be found online at www.petpoisonhelpline.com

Oleander poisoning

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Claim: A troop of Boy Scouts dies after roasting hot dogs on oleander sticks.

Examples:

A troop of Boy Scouts on a camping trip (no one can say where specifically) decides to have a weenie/marshmallow roast. They cut some sticks for everyone, and roast away, and eat their fill. The next morning they are all dead because they all used oleander sticks to roast with, and as your basic retard knows, oleander is deadly poison (where was the scoutmaster?).

I understand that any part of the oleander plant is toxic to all mammals. However, my veterinarian told me a story about a family cooking hot dogs over a fire while camping. Supposedly, the family unwittingly speared the dogs with branches from an oleander to cook them over the fire. All of the family members succumbed to oleander poisoning, which affects the heart.

Origins: This sorrowful tale of the fatal poisoning by oleander sticks used to roast treats over a campfire has been part of the urban legend canon for decades, with many of our readers in the U.S.A. reporting having heard versions of it in the 1960s and even the 1950s. It was also told as a true, local, and recent tale in the 1970s in Australia.

Yet in fact the tale is far older. A version of it appears in a gardening book published in England in 1886, under the entry for “Nerium” (which is another name for this plant):

The leaves are fatal to animals (horses, &c): the flowers have caused death to those who carelessly picked and ate them, and it is on record that the branches, divested of their bark, and used as skewers, have poisoned the meat roasted on them, and killed seven of twelve people who partook of it.

Similar is this cite from an 1853 book (which itself references a 1844 publication):

In 1809, when the French troops were lying before Madrid, some of the soldiers went a marauding, every one bringing back such provisions as could be found. One soldier formed the unfortunate idea of cutting the branches of the Oleander for spits and skewers for the meat when roasting. This tree, it may be observed, is very common in Spain, where it attains considerable dimensions. The wood having been stripped of its bark, and brought in contact with the meat, was productive of most direful consequences, for of twelve soldiers who ate of the roast seven died, and the other five were dangerously ill.

We’ve no idea how valid those claims from 1886 and 1853 are, but at least these entries grant a far better appreciation of the age of this cautionary tale.

Oleander is a common outdoor woody shrub found in warmer climates, often used for edging freeways or gardens. It is also quite poisonous, with the ingestion of as little as a single leaf reportedly being enough to kill a child. It

is a plant worthy of respect even by those who neither have children nor themselves make it their habit to gnaw on shrubbery, as cats and dogs — and even horses — have been killed by oleander poisoning.

According to this well-traveled cautionary tale, the unwitting use of oleander branches or leaves in a campfire brings about the death of a group of people either through roasting sticks fashioned from the plant adding a fatal kick to cookout ingestibles or the leaves or branches used to feed the flames creating a deadly cloud of poisonous smoke. Because this is a legend meant to make a point about the danger posed by this particular plant so that those exposed to the tale will afterwards be more careful about their use of plants in the wild, the victims are presented as folks with whom listeners will sympathize: a troop of Boy Scouts or a vacationing family (which implies the presence, and thus the demise, of small children). The use of sympathetic characters makes for a loss deemed especially tragic and adds to the pathos of the story, which in turn helps ensure that the tale better sticks in memory and so makes for a more effective teaching device. Likewise, in this legend the element of horror is raised to the highest possible level in that everyone in the group exposed to the oleander dies: not one Boy Scout survives the hot dogging, nor does any member of the luckless family live through their exposure to the acrid smoke. All die, as they must if the point is to be

made.

Was there ever such an ill-fated family or troop of Boy Scouts? Though we’ve searched for news stories about such a tragedy, we haven’t found any, not even an account of a non-fatal poisoning. Death by oleander is rare to begin with, and the cases we’ve located so far involved direct ingestion of the plant.

In Los Angeles in 2001, a woman suspected of administering a lethal mixture of antifreeze and oleander to her husband was charged with murder. Also in Los Angeles, but in 2000, two adopted Russian boys (age 3 and 2) died from eating oleander leaves off a neighbor’s hedge. Both were found dead in their cribs. Their mother said she saw the children chewing the leaves a few days before they died and noticed they had picked some again the night of their deaths.

How poisonous is poisonous? Oleander (leaves and branches) is deemed extremely dangerous, with the poison known to affect the heart, produce severe digestive upset, and to have caused death. The size and relative health of the person ingesting the plant have a great deal to do with the severity of the poisoning. Their relatively small body size places children especially at risk, making oleander a plant one may not want in one’s garden if children are part of the household or live nearby.

Yet could enough of the plant’s deadly essence be transmitted to a foodstuff during a cooking process that involves skewering the item to be eaten on an oleander stick? Highly unlikely says this 2005 toxicological study:

Methods: Hot dogs (Hebrew National Beef Franks, ConAgra Foods) were skewered their full length on either freshly-cut or dried Nerium oleander branches (4 each) and cooked over a disposable charcoal barbecue. The cooked hot dogs were then frozen until analysis of oleandrin content by liquid chromatography/mass spectroscopy.

Result: Hot dogs cooked on dried branches contained 14.3±8.8 ppb oleandrin, while hot dogs cooked on freshly-cut branches contained 7.0±2.1 ppb oleandrin (control: oleandrin). The most contaminated hot dog contained oleandrin; even allowing for other unmeasured cardiac glycosides, this oleandrin content is orders of magnitude lower than that expected to cause human toxicity if the hot dogs were consumed. In addition, several mechanical difficulties with both the freshly-cut and dried oleander branches make their practical use as skewers to cook food unlikely.

Conclusion: Hot dogs cooked on Nerium oleander branch skewers contain a negligible amount of oleandrin. Poisoning by consuming hot dogs or other food items cooked on oleander branches is probably an urban myth.

Barbara “non-fatal attraction” Mikkelson

Last updated: 31 July 2011

Sources:

Lindley, John. The Vegetable Kingdom.
London; Bradbury & Evans, 1853 (p. 600). Nicholson, George. The Illustrated Dictionary of Gardening.
London; L. Upcott Gill, 1886 (p. 447). Suchard, JR; Janssen, MU.
“Negligible Oleandrin Content of Hot Dogs Cooked on Nerium Oleander Skewers.”
Abstracts of the 2005 North American Congress of Clinical Toxicology Annual Meeting.

October 2005. Associated Press. “Coroner Confirms Two Toddlers Died from Oleander Poisoning.”
25 July 2000. City News Service. “Woman Pleads Innocent in Husband’s Poisoning Death.”
27 February 2001.
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Toxic Principle Oleandrin and neriine are two very potent cardiac glycosides (cardenolides) found in all parts of the plant. Red flowered varieties of oleander appear to be more toxic. Oleander remains toxic when dry. A single leaf can be lethal to a child eating it, although mortality is generally very low in humans. The lethal dose of the green oleander leaves for cattle and horses has been found to be 0.005% of the animal’s body weight. The minimum lethal dose of oleander for cattle was found to be 50mg/kg body weight. Horses given 40mg/kg body weight of green oleander leaves via nasogastric tube consistently developed severe gastrointestinal and cardiac toxicosis. Cardiac glycosides that act by inhibiting the cellular membrane sodium-potassium (Na+-K+ ATPase enzyme system) pump with resulting depletion of intracellular potassium and an increase in serum potassium. This results in progressive decrease in electrical conductivity through the heart causing irregular heart activity, and eventual complete block of cardiac activity, and death. Description A perennial, evergreen shrub or small tree up to 25 feet tall with whorled, simple, narrow, sharply-pointed, leathery leaves 3-10 inches long with prominent mid-vein. The showy white, pink or red flowers with five or more petals are produced in the spring and summer. Fruit pods contain many seeds, each with a tuft of brown hairs.
Gastrointestinal Colic, vomiting in some species of animal,
Treatment Cattle and horses should be given adsorbents such as activated charcoal (2-5gm/kg body weight) orally to prevent further toxin absorbtion. In ruminants known to have eaten oleander, a rumenotomy to remove all traces of the plant from the rumen may be life saving. The cardiac irregularities may be treated using anti-arrhythmic drugs such as potassium chloride, procainamide, lidocaine, dipotassium EDTA, or atropine sulfate). The use of fructose-1,6-diphosphate (FDP) has been shown to effectively reverse hyperkalemia, dysrhythmias and improve cardiac function in dogs experimentally poisoned with oleander. The mechanism of action of FDP is not known but it apparently restores cell membrane Na+-K+ ATPase function. As hyperkalemia is a common feature of oleander poisoning, the use of potassium containing fluids should be used very cautiously, and not at all unless serum potassium levels can be monitored closely. Intravenous fluids containing calcium should not be given as calcium augments the effects of the cardiac glycosides. Poisoned animals should be kept as quiet as possible to avoid further stress on the heart. Inactivation of the absorbed oleander glycosides can be inactivated by using digoxin specific antibodies. These antibodies cross react with oleander glycosides. The digoxin specific antibodies must be given early in the course of poisoning to be effective. ( Reference: Shumaik GM et al. Oleander poisoning: treatment with digoxin-specific Fab antibody fragments. Ann Emerg Med 1988. 17: 732-735.)
Cardiovascular system Sudden death may be the presenting sign. Cardiac arrhythmias, rapid, weak pulse. Signs of shock including cold extremities, weakness, collapse, and death.
Respiratory System Difficulty in breathing
Ocular System Dilated pupils, impaired vision.
Diagnosis Cardiac arrhythmias, increased serum potassium. Detection of cardiac glycosides in the serum, urine, tissues and stomach contents is possible using high performance liquid chromatography. Oleander glycosides will cross react with digoxin radioimmunoassays.
Special Notes Livestock are usually poisoned when they are allowed to graze in places where oleander is abundant or when prunings are carelessly thrown into animal pens. Oleander should not be planted in or around livestock enclosures. References

THE POISON GARDEN website  

Incidents

During the Peninsular Wars some of Wellington’s soldiers are alleged to have died after eating meat cooked on skewers made from the wood. This same claim is made about other groups of soldiers during other wars so is impossible to verify. This alleged ability of oleander skewers continues to be ascribed to various groups, often boy scouts out camping, to this day. This in spite of the fact that oleander does not produce woody stems of the size or strength to be used as skewers. And, there has been one piece of research that found insufficient transfer of oleandrin from the skewer to the meat to produce a fatal barbecue.

Soldiers sleeping on oleander branches were reported to have died according to the Gardener’s Chronicle in 1880 though this may have been a sort of ‘Chinese whispers’ corruption of the skewer story.

In 1989, the Western Journal of Medicine reported the case of an 83 year old woman who attempted suicide by drinking a tea made of an infusion of Oleander leaves. She suffered severe bradycardia with a pulse rate of 40 and was treated with atropine to counteract this. There are other reports in the literature of failed suicide attempts.

There are numerous reports of animal poisoning featuring a wide range of animals including sheep, cattle, horses, canaries, budgerigars, donkeys, a sloth and a bear. The following are two of the more recent examples.

In 2005, the Los Angeles Daily News reported the case of Fudgie, a dwarf cow beloved of the primary school students in its area. Fudgie ate some oleander branches and suffered cardiac arrest. It was fortunate that the vet called in knew a senior toxicologist because between them they restarted Fudgie’s heart twelve times over the week that it took for the cow to recover. The vet apparently kicked Fudgie in the chest to restart his heart.

In August 2009, 23 horses at Rockridge Farm in Rancho Santa Fe near San Diego were reported to have been poisoned after an intruder broke into the stables during the night and fed them oleander leaves. When staff opened the barn at 6 am they found one horse already seriously ill and the others showing the first signs of poisoning.

The workers say they found oleander leaves in the stalls as well as remains of carrots and apples thought to have been used to disguise the bitter taste of the plant.

Three horses were transferred to a veterinary hospital, though two were well enough to be released the next day, and the rest were treated at the ranch.

In July 2011, a giraffe died at a zoo in Tucson, Arizona, after being accidentally fed oleander leaves by an apprentice keeper. Another animal was taken ill but survived with careful medical attention. The zoo had a long-standing policy of feeding clippings from its extensive grounds to its browsing animals but, it seems, the apprentice went against the policy that only material identified by the head grounds’ keeper should be collected. More details of this incident are given in the blog.

Is Oleander Poisonous: Information About Oleander Toxicity

Gardeners in warm climates often rely on oleander in the landscape, and for good reason; this nearly foolproof evergreen shrub is available in a tremendous variety of shapes, sizes, adaptability and flower color. However, it’s important to be knowledgeable of oleander toxicity and the potential for oleander poisoning before you plant. Read on to learn the specifics.

Oleander Toxicity

Is oleander poisonous? Unfortunately, oleander in the landscape is considered to be highly toxic whether the plant is fresh or dried. The good news is that there have been very few reports of human death due to oleander toxicity, probably due to the plant’s vile taste, says University of Wisconsin’s BioWeb.

The bad news, according to UW, is that many animals, including dogs, cats, cows, horses and even birds have succumbed to oleander poisoning. Ingestion of even a small amount can cause serious illness or death.

What Parts of Oleander are Toxic?

The National Institute of Health reports that all parts of the oleander plant are toxic and can cause severe illness or death, including the leaves, flowers, twigs and stems.

The plant is so poisonous that even drinking water from a vase holding a bloom can cause a severe reaction. The gummy sap can cause irritation when it comes in contact with the skin, and even smoke from burning the plant can cause severe adverse reactions.

Symptoms of oleander poisoning include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Low blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Weakness and lethargy
  • Depression
  • Headache
  • Tremors
  • Dizziness and disorientation
  • Sleepiness
  • Fainting
  • Confusion

According to the National Institute of Health, getting medical help quickly increases the chance of full recovery. Never induce vomiting unless advised to do so by a medical professional.

If you suspect a person has ingested oleander, call the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222, a free service. If you’re concerned about livestock or a pet, contact your veterinarian immediately.

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