Could Aconite Cause Strange Behaviour in Dog?
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Susan Lowry Litchfield
Posted on: July 1, 2003

German Short Hair. She has been acting strange for about a week. I have really focused on her problems and she acts like something is going on with her nervous system. Could she have ingested monkshood? While I was looking through one of my herbal books I noticed the monkshood’s properties. I didn’t know anything about the flower except I hadn’t seen it in anybody’s garden and didn’t know its name. This probably sounds bizarre but I have seen my dog in my flowers and while pulling weeds I accidentally pulled one and transplanted it. They don’t transplant well. I was watching the plant to see if it was going to take and it came up missing. Then I ran across the info on the plant in my book. What do you think besides this sounds bizarre? Thank you.

Aconite or monkshood (Aconitum napellus) is a poisonous plant that causes distress to the cardiovascular, central nervous and gastrointestinal systems in humans, and it likely does the same in animals. The following information is from human data but may also apply to dogs.

The roots contain the highest concentrations of the toxins aconitine, mesaconitine, and jesaconitine, but all parts are poisonous. When aconitine is accidentally ingested arrythmias of the heart can develop or the heart can fail altogether within hours. Respiratory paralysis and diarrhea can occur also.

The first symptoms of poisoning come on quickly, starting with numbness and tingling of the mouth and tongue, and in a few hours, salivation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. If the poisoning is severe, the cardiotoxic effects occur within the first 24 hours of poisoning. Because the liver metabolizes aconitines quickly, the gross effects of poisoning – assuming the victim doesn’t die – pass within a day or two. But electrocardiogram disturbances can persist for days.

Was your dog poisoned by aconite? It is possible, but I think that it is unlikely. For there to be lasting effects – i.e., effects lasting beyond two days – the poisoning would have to be severe and you should have noticed severe symptoms in the first 24 hours. But this is a guess based on the assumption that dogs experience much the same effects as humans do.

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