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Veterinary session

Plant poisoning in companion animals - from the perspective of the veterinarian and the owner
Horváth Ariella Roxána - year 6
University of Veterinary Medicine Budapest, Department of Botany
Supervisor: Dr. Dániel Cserhalmi


Nowadays, various companion animals are present in most households, but while in the past their habitat was limited to the yard, nowadays they are viewed more than as a member of the family. Although this change has removed many dangers from their lives, new ones have taken the place of those that threaten their health. Such are the garden and indoor ornamental plants found in their living space.

These species are easily accessible to pets and can easily become poisoned when in contact with or consumed. All this is quite common in farm animals, as previously confirmed by toxicological studies, but little data are available for companion animals. Cases of poisoning due to the ignorance of the owners are common and could be easily prevented with basic knowledge.

It is a general view that knowledge of plants is not a necessary part of the basic knowledge of our profession, but experience points to the opposite. Although there is usually no specific cure for plant poisoning, knowledge of the species involved is very useful for establishing prognosis and targeted intervention.The aim of our research is to assess the knowledge of animal keepers and veterinarians about poisonous plants, and we hypothesize that the latter group is presumably more trained in this field.

Participants ’knowledge was assessed using an online questionnaire. The research involved 941 owners and 134 professionals.

According to the owners, there is a smaller (58.8%), according to the answers of the veterinarians, there is a higher (78%) probability of having a poisonous species in their home. Among veterinarians, there was a higher incidence of plant poisoning in their environment (17.1%), in the case of owners it was only 4.3%. Plant identification was around 70-80% in both groups, the degree of toxicity could be determined in 45-50%, while the possibility of a “don’t know” answer was used in about 20-30% of cases. Based on the responses, there was no significant difference between the groups.

Veterinarians were only able to pair the symptoms correctly with 33.3% with a 43,1% “don’t know” answer.

Our hypothesis has been refuted, as veterinarians do not have the right knowledge either.We can also state that it would be useful to develop a toxicology center in Hungary, where they could deal with the coordination and documentation of plant-related poisoning cases, as more than 95% of the respondents would use such an option.

At the end of the project, I will prepare an educational publication, which will be made available free of charge to domestic pet practices, reaching the widest range of owners. With my dissertation we would like to draw the attention of practicing veterinarians to the importance of further training.

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