Pet owners: BEWARE! If you're not already aware, there is a relatively harmless looking plant that can take your dog's life in just a couple of short hours. The plant in question? Water hemlock, which one unfortunate woman learned about the hard way after taking her dog and family on a walk at the Horsetooth Reservoir in Colorado.
Unfortunately, her dog, a Border Collie, chewed on some water hemlock while they were out. She steadily started losing motor function, and died within an hour while en route to the hospital.
Water hemlock doesn't naturally appeal to dogs, but some dogs are more curious than others. Just a few leaves can kill a large dog in two hours. This deadly plant is commonly found near lakes, streams, rivers, and marshy areas throughout North America.
Every part of the plant is toxic, especially the roots, which remain poisonous even after being dried. Farmers usually monitor their pastures for the appearance of water hemlock in order to safeguard their livestock.
Water hemlock grows to be anywhere from three to six feet tall with narrow, serrated-edged leaves and white flowers that bloom in June/July.
Water parsnip and cow parsnip are two plants that are commonly confused with water hemlock. Symptoms of water hemlock poisoning include seizures, muscle twitching, and drooling. These usually manifest within just a few minutes of ingestion.
Dogs may appear nervous with dilated pupils. This is usually followed by respiratory paralysis and death. If a non-lethal dosage is ingested, there is a possibility of recovery if the dog survives for 4-6 hours. Still, it's likely to result in permanent cardiovascular and/or skeletal damage. These toxins work fast, so if you think your dog has ingested some water hemlock, induce vomiting right away and contact your veterinarian immediately.