A large number of plants can cause adverse effects when ingested by animals or people. Plant toxicity is due to a wide diversity of chemical toxins that include alkaloids, glycosides, proteins and amino acids. There are several notable toxic plants for which a specific chemical responsible for toxicity has not been determined. There are many examples of species differences in terms of their sensitivity to intoxication from plants. Pets, such as dogs and cats, and people, especially children, are frequently exposed to the same toxic plants due to their shared environments. On the other hand, livestock are exposed to toxic plants that are rarely involved in human intoxications due to the unique environments in which they are kept. Fortunately, adverse effects often do not occur or are generally mild following most toxic plant ingestions and no therapeutic intervention is necessary. However, some plants are extremely toxic and ingestion of small amounts can cause rapid death. The diagnosis of plant intoxication can be challenging, especially in veterinary medicine where a history of exposure to a toxic plant is often lacking. Analytical tests are available to detect some plant toxins, although their diagnostic utility is often limited by test availability and timeliness of results. With a few notable exceptions, antidotes for plant toxins are not available. However, general supportive and symptomatic care often is sufficient to successfully treat a symptomatic patient.
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