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  • Author or Editor: Jay Albretsen x
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Objective—To determine epidemiologic characteristics, clinical findings, and treatment outcome of 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) toxicosis in dogs.

Design—Retrospective study.

Animals—21 dogs with evidence of accidental 5-HTP ingestion.

Procedure—Information was retrieved from the National Animal Poison Control Center database. Records of dogs ingesting 5-HTP between January 1989 and February 1999 were reviewed for information on signalment, dose ingested, clinical signs (onset, severity, duration), treatments administered, and outcome.

Results—Clinical signs of toxicosis developed in 19 of 21 (90%) dogs. Neurologic signs included seizures (9 dogs), depression (6), tremors (5), hyperesthesia (5), and ataxia (4). Gastrointestinal tract signs included vomiting or diarrhea (12 dogs), signs of abdominal pain (3), and hypersalivation (2). Other clinical signs were hyperthermia (7 dogs) and transient blindness (3). Three dogs died. No important clinical laboratory or necropsy findings were reported. The doses of 5-HTP ingested ranged from 2.5 to 573 mg/kg (1.1 to 260 mg/lb) of body weight; the minimum toxic dose reported in our study was 23.6 mg/kg (10.7 mg/lb), and the minimum lethal dose was 128 mg/kg (58.1 mg/lb). Onset of signs ranged from 10 minutes to 4 hours after ingestion, and signs lasted up to 36 hours. Of 17 dogs with clinical signs of toxicosis that received treatment, 16 recovered; treatment consisted of decontamination, seizure control, thermoregulation, fluid therapy, and supportive care.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Ingestion of 5-HTP in dogs can result in a potentially life-threatening syndrome resembling serotonin syndrome in humans, which requires prompt and aggressive care. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;216:1937–1940)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


To report clinical and epidemiologic information, summarize characteristic clinical signs and laboratory results, and describe the expected course of cycad toxicosis in dogs.


Retrospective study.


60 dogs with evidence of cycad ingestion.


The National Animal Poison Control Center's case record database was searched for records of dogs ingesting cycad plants from January 1987 to November 1997. Data were retrieved on clinical signs, laboratory test results, exposure history, and physical examination findings. Cases were assessed as toxicosis, suspected toxicosis, or possible toxicosis.


Records from 60 dogs were retrieved; 89.7% of the dogs were from the southern United States, 38.7% ingested seeds, 95% developed liver and gastrointestinal tract problems, and 53.3% had abnormal neurologic signs. High serum bilirubin concentration and alkaline phosphatase and alanine aminotransferase activities were the most common serum biochemical abnormalities. Although clinical signs were observed within 1 day, laboratory values did not change for 24 to 48 hours after cycad ingestion. Mortality rate was reportedly 32.1 %.

Clinical Implications

68% of dogs responded well to treatment and supportive care. Dogs ingesting seeds are likely to develop more serious problems. Clinical signs can develop within 1 to 3 days and can last for several days. A tentative diagnosis should be made on the basis of history of ingestion, clinical signs, and duration of signs. Because of the nature of these toxins, cycad ingestion is serious and should be treated aggressively. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1998;213:99-101)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association