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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 16179
Experience:  Small animal veterinarian with a special interest in cats, happy to discuss any questions you have.
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My cat just ate a few bites of a green azalea leaf. Should

Customer Question

My cat just ate a few bites of a green azalea leaf. Should I be concerned? He's acting normal but it has only been an hour ago.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.
Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you with your wee one today.
Now this plant is actually a member of a very animal unfriendly group of plants and ingestion of even a small bit of leaf could cause adverse issues for Ozzie.
Generally speaking, we can see adverse signs of this plant within a few hours after eating it (so signs could still appear here). In regards ***** ***** toxicity risks of this plant, if he has had a small amount then we could see GI upset (ie drooling, appetite loss, cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, etc), lethargy, and weakness. In large dose ingestions (less likely here), we can also see wobbliness, depression, heart rate depression and collapse.
Therefore, in this situation and if it has only been an hour, we do have a few options. First, you can consider inducing vomiting at this point. To induce vomiting at home, you can administer 3% hydrogen peroxide orally at a dose of 1ml per pound. (1 teaspoons per 10 pounds of body weight). You can give it via dropper, syringe, turkey baster -- just we want to give it orally and just get it into him. After giving this orally, move the abdomen around or get him to walk about to get things mixing. This should usually lead to vomiting. If it is unsuccessful after 10 minutes then it can be repeated twice more. And if we still have no vomiting, then you'd need to consider seeing his ER vet so that the vet can administer apomorhpine (a very strong injectable emetic) to just get this out of his stomach and avoid any adverse issues.
As well or otherwise, you can also consider administering activated charcoal at this stage. This is available over the counter
from the pharmacy (ask for the high strength version, not the one for gas) and works by binding any remaining plant toxin in the stomach. For activated charcoal, we tend to give 1-4 grams per pound every 8 hrs. This can be mixed with food to be fed or with water to syringe feed (do note that it stains, so keep it away from white carpets/clothes). This will just limit how much he absorbs and reduce the intoxication risk here.
Finally, since he did have a small bit and GI upset is quite possible here, I would note that you can try to offset this for him. To do so, you can consider offering a light diet option for a few days. Examples of an easily digestible diet include boiled chicken, boiled white fish, scrambled egg, or meat baby food (as long as its free from garlic or onion powder). Ideally, we want to offer this as small frequent meals to keep his stomach settled.
Further to this, we can also cover him with an antacid to keep his stomach as settled as possible. There are a number of antacids that are available over the counter and pet friendly. I would advise only treating with one, but the two I tend to use are:
* Pepcid (More Info/Dose @ http://www.petplace.com/drug-library/famotidine-pepcid/page1.aspx#.VGJLgsn9XPg) or
* Zantac (More Info/Dose @ http://www.petplace.com/drug-library/ranitidine-hcl-zantac/page1.aspx)
These are usually given 20 minutes before offering food (to allow absorption) and of course you want to double check with your vet if your wee one has a pre-existing condition or is on any medications you haven't mentioned.
Overall, azalea is actually quite dangerous for cats. If he has only had a few bites of a leaf, then he would be more at risk of those GI upset signs. Still, as its only been an hour, you can choose to err on the side of caution with the above interventions. Or you can choose to monitor +/- use supportive care as needed to settle any GI upset he may have from this. And whichever you choose, we'd want to ensure this plant is moved out of his reach to avoid any future issues.
I hope this information is helpful.
If you need any additional information, do not hesitate to ask!
All the best,
Dr. B.
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