‘World first recorded’ – Erina Heights Vet Hospital identified the toxicity of this plant in a dog. The moth plant (‘false choko’) has been infrequently recorded as being toxic to poultry and cattle; but this is the first recorded case in a dog of which we are aware.

Ruby is usually a happy and active young Bernese Mountain dog and always keen on her dinner. So when Ruby suddenly declined her food her owners were very concerned. She was reluctant to move, and had a very stiff gait. Pain relief medication gave mild respite; but over the next 2-3 days she began to show signs of a very painful abdomen.

Ruby refused to eat, but would drink huge quantities of water-often over five litres per day; and had a small amount of greenish diarrhea on one occasion only. Her blood and urine results were essentially normal; so after several days of illness, radiographs, and ultrasound examination, we elected to perform exploratory abdominal surgery. All tissues were normal.

Post surgery, Ruby slowly responded to supportive treatment with intravenous fluids and antibacterials, but the cause of the illness remained a mystery.

After Ruby was discharged, her owner became suspicious of a vine in the backyard which Ruby was playing with only days before she became ill. The vine (Araujia sericifera) is commonly called the “moth plant” because the flowers attract moths, but also looks similar to the choko vine. It was very likely the cause of Ruby’s severe illness which resulted in a weeklong stay in hospital.

Ruby is now completely well, but her owner is now very watchful of plants in the garden. Other common plants which are toxic to pets include the zamia palm and related cycads, “Yesterday,Today and Tomorrow” (or Brunsfelsia), Duranta hedge, oleander and various lily type species.