Several ficus plants like fiddle leaf fig are known to cause irritation and poisoning in pets, but what about ficus carica?
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®) lists some ficus species as toxic for cats, dogs, and horses.
There are no specific mentions of Ficus carica being toxic to cats and dogs by any health organizations. Luckily, we can make good conclusions based on the understanding of what causes poisoning with other ficus species and the information from the pet owners with fig trees from the community.
Why Do Dogs and Cats Eat Plants?
Cats and dogs are carnivorous, but they sometimes chew and even swallow plants for several reasons.
Simple, playful curiosity is the most common reason. Dogs especially like to try and chew everything in their surroundings.
Genetical studies suggest dogs might have a genetic need to eat plants because some of their long-gone ancestors had to fill the nutritional gaps between the meat.
I’ve seen both cats and dogs eat random plants when they want to force themselves to vomit because they ate something that made them sick before that. It’s not the most common thing they do, but it might be the reason for your pet getting poisoned.
Can Dogs and Cats Eat Fig Fruit?
Ripe fig fruit is normally safe to eat for dogs and cats.
Although, cats don’t really like them. I’ve heard stories of mild irritation in dogs caused by eating a lot of figs, but I’m not sure if they are true. My dog eats figs from when she was a pup and never had any issues.
On the other hand, unripe figs can be very dangerous to dogs and cats. Same as humans, they can’t digest the type of sap found in all ficus plants.
The sap is present only before figs are ripe.
Fresh leaves and branches are toxic because of sap, while old dry or dead wood and dry leaves aren’t.
What Is Fig Sap?
Ficus plant sap is a latex-type fluid that is stickier than most because it has a high quantity of a proteolytic enzyme called Ficin.
Fig sap is considered an allergen because Ficin is toxic and can cause irritation and burns to organic material similarly to acid.
Not only is it an allergen, but it can transform into solid material and cause additional problems in the digestive system.
Fig Sap Poisoning Symptoms in Cats and Dogs
- Excessive drooling
- Shaking of the head
- Pawing and rubbing his face in distress
- Abdominal pain
- Mouth pain
- Watery eyes
- Skin irritation, sometimes in form of open dermatitis (weeping sores)
How To Keep Pets Away From Fig Plants?
Pets and plants should not be kept together unless you know the plant is harmless to them.
If you have a pet, it’s a good idea to keep dangerous things out of their reach, just like you would with children. Assuming you’re not at home, this may not be enough to keep cats and other dogs away – especially if they’re really determined. Keep your fig tree behind a locked door if you can’t watch your dogs and cats.
Use lemon juice to spritz your fig tree.
A natural deterrent that is safe for your pets to swallow is lemon juice, which is beneficial for plants because dogs and cats don’t like the taste or scent of it. However, it may disrupt the soil’s ph levels, so make sure it stays on the leaves and doesn’t drip down.
Make sure your pet is getting enough exercise.
Keep an eye on your dog or cat’s level of boredom since it might escalate to destructive behavior. Dogs and cats benefit greatly from regular, long walks or rigorous sessions with string toys. That will help keep them away from your fig tree by lowering their energy levels and curiosity towards stuff they shouldn’t touch.
Give your pet toys to play with.
Toys are a great method to keep your cat or dog occupied when they’re feeling restless or bored. Give your cat a variety of toys to play with or your dog something to gnaw on to keep them entertained. Chew toys are a great idea for obvious reasons.
Keep your dogs away from your fig tree by using training tactics.
If your dog or cat is snooping around your fig tree, you may want to use some form of punishment to deter them. Startling cats and dogs can be as simple as a short spritz of water from a spray bottle. Make sure to reward your pet for staying away from the fig tree with a treat, so they can learn that nice things happen when they do not touch the plant.
Treatment of Fig Sap Poisoning in Cats and Dogs
The most important thing to know is not to try and induce vomiting in your pets if you suspect a ficus plant has poisoned them. Both, cats and dogs will do that on their own if possible. Forcing it may lead to complications.
Let the professionals handle it or ask them for advice on how to proceed. The pet’s medical history, period of exposure, symptoms, blood tests, and measurements of heart rate and respiration rate can all be used in the diagnosis.
The severity of the poisoning will dictate the course of treatment.
The vet may do an emesis straight away if your dog hasn’t vomited from the poisonous sap. That will aid in the evacuation of your dog’s stomach contents. After administering a dose or two of activated charcoal, the dog’s system will be protected from the poisons.
Washing and rinsing
If your dog ate a fig plant, it’s very probable that he has sap in his mouth. Your pet’s veterinarian may decide to disinfect him. Additionally, this will eliminate any residual sap from his body, therefore preventing any additional skin irritation. He will also participate in an eyewash if the sap is in his eyes.
An IV Infusion of Fluids
Intravenous fluids will improve your pet’s hydration and renal function. Your pet’s system will benefit from the healthful enzymes given by these fluids.
The Skin’s Care
You should be concerned if the sap got into touch with your pet’s eyes or mouth, or skin. To treat the pet’s contact dermatitis, he might use a prescription cream or ointment.