:Vickie on…potpourri strychnine poisoning


I just posted the following on the rescue blog …

There have been at least two confirmed reports in the past ten days of dogs dying of strychnine poisoning after ingesting potpourri. 

A case in Indiana involved potpourri imported from India by a company in California and then sold by the owner’s local Walmart.  The owner of the deceased dogs (two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels) is working to have the product removed/banned.  Case studies by an English lab on toxic potpourri from India note that the tree, Strychnos nux-vomica, is native to India and is the chief commercial source of strychnine. 

The primary effect of the toxin is on the neurological system. The toxin interferes with inhibitory transmitters, which produce a state of muscle rigidity and stimulation. Death is often caused by the effect on muscles that stimulate breathing.

What to Watch For:

Violent seizures
Muscle stiffness
Fast heart rate
Difficult or slow breathing
Cessation of breathing and death

If you have any kind of potpourri in the home, please make sure it is inaccessible to both children and pets.  Even if your potpourri doesn’t contain strychnine, it can cause an obstruction in the pet’s intestine.

13 Comments on “:Vickie on…potpourri strychnine poisoning”

  1. Kathy says:

    Vickie, thanks for this!
    Different topic: With our minus temps and snow, the apsos are in sweaters when they go out in the yard, but it’s their feet that literally become almost frozen/painful–to the point of not moving without whimpering! And this is only after a couple of minutes to do their business. Should I be moisturizing their paws with Vaseline or some other product?

  2. Susan M says:

    Hey, Kathy, why not knit them some booties????

  3. Mare says:

    Kathy, there’s a product used by sled dog folk and many others as well that’s applied to paws and it protects from ice and snow! It’s called ‘Musher’s Secret Wax’…you don’t have to have sled dogs to use it:-) Here’s just one of several online websites that offer it for sale…
    Hope this is helpful to you and best of luck!
    S. Ontario, Canada

  4. Kathy says:

    Thanks Mare! I just put in an order!!

  5. Jacki says:

    I was wondering if anyone has actually confirmed this problem with the potpourri? I had the email forwarded to me by my dog trainer but it just seems like a typical internet rumor. When I search it online I only find reference to the email, never the actual story. No one actually knows the person who it happened to, the person knew where the potpourri was manufactured (India) and where she bought it (WalMart), the emergency vet clinic did not know the signs of strychnine poisoning which, according to various vet web sites is very obvious.

    I am not saying that letting your dogs eat potpourri is a good idea and safety is always a good idea but this email just fits the bill for another Urban Legend.

  6. >>> No one actually knows the person who it happened to …

    Karen Cantner of Heartland Kennels is a show breeder of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels in Evansville, Indiana. What I received was from the Cavalier King Charles Club of Northern Arizona. For those not familiar with the exhibiting, that is a recognized AKC regional speceialty show club based in Arizona.

  7. From Infodog show results … note the owner.

    B/G4 7 CH SANICKRO ESPECIALLY MADE . TN 59417301. 12-07-96 (Mr Michael E Scott, Agent).
    By Alberto Of Kindrum – Sanickro Maid Of Honour At Colneka. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Dog.
    Owner: Karen A & Kevin W Cantner., Evansville, IN 47720. Breeder: Mrs G Tomlinson.

  8. Kathy says:

    Mare, I just used Musher’s Secret Wax on the apsos’ paws and they are navigating the snow and ice pain-free! Thanks much for suggesting this product.

  9. Karen says:

    This is absolutley NOT an urban legand. I personally know Karen Canter and she did have 2 of her Cavaliers die from eating the potpourri. She spent days and nights and thousands of dollars trying to save them, to no avail. Yes, it came from Walmart and yes it was manufactured in India. It is lethal. It was agonizing for both dogs and all humans involved.

  10. Dave Bilyue says:

    Well I hope we all follow through on this my daighter is going through this right now — both her dogs we’re poisoned by the pot potpourri…. they are getting help, looks like they may survive this — but this is an outrage, something should be done immediately – lookout wal-mart here we come!!!!

  11. Linsey says:

    My dog is going through this now! But what do I do???

  12. lhasalhady says:

    Linsey, I haven’t done investigating into how this is treated. I hope you’ve rushed your dog to the veterinarian!

  13. Rita Barberousse says:

    I have two Shih Tzu’s going through this right now. Potpourri was from Walmart also. They were vomiting profusely on Sunday and rushed to Animal ER right away. They have been on IV’s and antibiotics since.
    What treatments have helped? Dr. giving them barium to soothe their intestines. I am praying endlessly for them to live. I can’t believe this happened.
    Has anyone sued Walmart? I am totally in for suing them big time. What if this was a child? Why is this stuff still on their shelves???

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