Is Mistletoe Fig Toxic to Dogs?

Mistletoe fig (Ficus deltoidea) is toxic to dogs. The toxic principles are ficin a proteolytic enzyme, and ficusin, a psoralen that causes oral and dermal irritation along with vomiting and diarrhea.

What is mistletoe fig?

FamilyMoraceae
Botanical nameFicus deltoidea
Common namesMistletoe fig, Mistletoe rubber plant
Mature height60 – 90 cm (24 – 36 inches)
Flower colour
White, green, yellow
Leaf colour
Green, variegated
Native toSoutheast Asia
ToxicityToxic to dogs

The mistletoe fig (Ficus deltoidea) is an evergreen shrub native to Southeast Asia with attractive leathery, spoon-shaped leaves. In the wild, mistletoe fig grows as an understory plant beneath

The mistletoe fig is named for its white berries which have a similar appearance to those of the mistletoe plant.

In warm climates, mistletoe fig can be grown as an ornamental evergreen in the garden or a decorative indoor plant in cooler climates.

Related: Is ficus toxic to dogs?

Toxic principles

Mistletoe fig contains ficin, a proteolytic enzyme, and ficusin, a phototoxic psoralen in the latex sap of the plant. Damage to the plant from chewing will release the milky sap which can cause oral or dermal irritation as well as gastrointestinal upset (vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite).

First aid

If it is safe to do so, remove any remaining plant matter from the dog’s mouth and offer a drink of something tasty such as milk to help flush any remaining sap.

Wash off any sap on the coat with warm water and dog shampoo, or dishwashing liquid (Dawn, Fairy Liquid, Morning Fresh).

Symptoms

Symptoms of mistletoe fig poisoning will vary depending on the route of exposure.

Ingestion

  • Oropharynx pain
  • Inappetance
  • Hypersalivation
  • Pawing at the face
  • Vomiting
  • Mild diarrhea

Dermal

  • Redness
  • Blisters

Ocular

  • Squinting
  • Ocular pain

Treatment

If your dog ingests any part of mistletoe fig, contact your dog’s primary veterinarian, or an emergency veterinarian. The veterinarian may advise a wait-and-watch approach for dogs with no sympcoms. Dogs with underlying health conditions or who are experiencing symptoms should see a veterinarian for treatment.

There is no antidote to mistletoe fig ingestion and treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms as and providing supportive care.

  • If exposure was within the previous 1.5 hours, the veterinarian may induce vomiting followed by administration of activated charcoal which will bind to any remaining plant matter in the GI tract.
  • Intravenous fluids will be administered to dogs with vomiting and diarrhea to treat or prevent dehydration and electrolyte derangements.
  • Antiemetics are medications that can be prescribed for dogs that are vomiting.
  • If the coat has been contaminated, the veterinarian will give the dog a bath to remove any remaining sap. Ocular eye washes will be used to rinse the eye of any sap.
  • The veterinarian may recommend a bland diet for the next few days to rest the gastrointestinal tract.

Prognosis

The prognosis for mistletoe fig ingestion is excellent and most dogs will make a full recovery.

Prevention

The only way to eliminate the risk is to not grow mistletoe fig in gardens or homes with dogs. Some plant lovers may choose to keep their plant and dog in which case, keep the plant a room the dog cannot access if he or she is showing an interest in chewing it. There are plenty of non-toxic plants for dog lovers to choose from.