Identifying giant hogweed: Warning to dog owners over toxic plant- what it looks like, the symptoms and what you can do

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Dog owners are being warned about taking their pets for their daily walks as harmful giant hogweed has now entered flowering season, which can cause serious burns, blisters and boils to both humans and animals.

One dog owner was horrified to find her dog had gone into anaphylactic shock after encountering the deadly plant.

Google Trends shows a 5000% increase in searches for 'identifying giant hogweed' so this information on the plant is actively being searched.

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Dog experts at Kennel Store have weighed in and provided an expert comment, explaining the risk that giant hogweed poses to dogs when touched or ingested, the symptoms of poisoning, and what members of the public can do if they see giant hogweed during a dog walk.

One dog owner was horrified to find her dog had gone into anaphylactic shock after encountering the deadly plant.One dog owner was horrified to find her dog had gone into anaphylactic shock after encountering the deadly plant.
One dog owner was horrified to find her dog had gone into anaphylactic shock after encountering the deadly plant.

Dogs are naturally curious animals and are likely to interact with the plant, however, this can cause serious sores and blisters, and if ingested, will induce vomiting and diarrhoea.

Dog owners need to recognise the plant in order to keep their pet far from it on walks.

What does giant hogweed look like?

Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) has a tall and thick stem with purple blotches and large, jagged leaves. They produce umbrella-shaped clusters of white flowers on top.

Where is giant hogweed most common?

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As a highly invasive plant, giant hogweed can be found in many grassy or overgrown areas like parks or even gardens but is commonly found near watercourses and in damp meadows, as well as waste grounds.

How is giant hogweed poisonous?

Giant hogweed produces toxic sap in its stems, leaves, flowers, and roots that reacts to UV light, which results in skin inflammation, blisters, redness, swelling, and pain. The plant can also release 10,000 seeds that spread in the wind. It is especially crucial to avoid this plant in the summer, while the plant is most common during its flowering season and UV light is at its strongest.

What are the symptoms of poisoning by giant hogweed in dogs?

Sensitive, red skin

Blisters and ulcers

Swelling

Rashes and itching

Excessive licking or scratching

Eye irritation

Vomiting (if ingested)

Diarrhoea (if ingested)

Mouth ulcers (if ingested)

What do I do if my dog touched/ingested giant hogweed?

If your dog has been exposed to giant hogweed:

Immediately remove them from the plant and take them home and keep them away from sunlight as UV light will worsen the symptoms

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Wash your dog thoroughly with soap and water to get rid of as much of the sap from their skin as possible - use protective gloves to make sure your own skin doesn’t interact with the poison

Seek veterinary help as soon as possible, especially if your dog has ingested giant hogweed. The vet can assess the situation, and provide appropriate treatment to relieve your dog of discomfort”