National Meadows Day is an annual celebration of wildflower meadows across the UK, which this year falls on the 2nd July.

Around this time of year we tend to get an increase in the number of hogweed (Heracleum species) poisoning cases received. Heracleum is a genus of biennial and perennial herbs in the carrot family, Apiaceae. These plants contain varying concentrations of psoralens and it is these compounds that cause the characteristic phototoxic effects of hogweed, by sensitising the skin to sunlight.

Although ingestion of hogweed can cause dermal effects (such as dermatitis, oedema, erythema and burn-like lesions) in most cases dermal effects occur following actual contact with plant material. Ingestion of plant material can cause gastrointestinal effects as well as ulceration around the mouth and muzzle. Due to the unique nature of its mechanism of toxicity, treatment for hogweed toxicity varies depending on the route of exposure. Management of dermal effects is mainly supportive and animals should be kept out of sunlight, even if asymptomatic.

If you are managing a case involving hogweed, vets can call us for advice on 02073 055 055.
Owners can call our Animal PoisonLine on 01202 509000.