What is Gladiola Poisoning?
Once your cat has eaten any part of the gladiola, it will begin to have diarrhea and vomit. If these symptoms and the underlying poisoning aren’t treated right away, your cat can become dangerously dehydrated. Once you’ve removed your gladioli and bulbs from the ground for the winter, make sure the bulbs are stored in an area inaccessible to your cat.
The gladiola comes from the Iridaceae, or iris family and is highly toxic to cats. The bulb or corm is considered to be the most toxic part of this plant, posing a potential risk of death to your cat. Some of the toxic effects of gladiola and their bulbs can cause irregular heartbeat, liver and kidney problems in your cat.
Symptoms of Gladiola Poisoning in Cats
Once your cat has eaten any part of a gladiola plant, including its bulb, it will become sick. Depending on how much of the plant the cat managed to eat, the resulting health problems can range from gastrointestinal issues all the way up to liver, kidney and cardiac symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Bloody diarrhea
- Excessive drooling
Liver and kidney involvement:
- Blood in the urine
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Dark-colored urine
- Frequent urination
- Inability to urinate
- Jaundice (yellow skin and eyes)
- Heart murmur
- Slowed heartbeat
While some lilies may cause only gastrointestinal symptoms, poisoning from gladiola can lead to ulceration of your cat’s stomach and small intestine.
Causes of Gladiola Poisoning in Cats
All parts of this plant are toxic for your cat:
- The corm (bulb) is the most poisonous part
- Depending on how much of the plant your cat eats, it may develop cardiac issues, liver and kidney involvement
- If your cat chokes on any part of the plant, it may lose its ability to breathe and develop seizures
Diagnosis of Gladiola Poisoning in Cats
If you know your cat ate part of a gladiola, your work and that of your vet will be much easier. Bring some of the plant with you so your vet can quickly identify the exact poison affecting your pet. It will be even easier for your vet if you know just what part of the plant your cat nibbled from, including the bulb.
After completing a complete physical of your cat, the vet takes blood and obtains a urine sample from your cat. Using the blood sample, the lab will perform a CBC, a blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and check your cat’s electrolyte levels. The urinalysis allows your vet to check your cat’s lipase, amylase and glucose levels. Your cat will also be X-rayed, allowing your vet to get a view of its stomach, which makes it easier to detect any damage, such as ulceration, from the gladiola. If they suspect that any part of the gladiola remains in your cat’s stomach, they will perform an endoscopy of your anesthetized cat so they can remove the remaining bits.
Treatment of Gladiola Poisoning in Cats
Your vet will have to induce vomiting in your cat to help remove the remainder of any gladiola in your cat’s system.Once this process has been completed, your cat may also undergo a gastric lavage with activated charcoal. This substance binds to the toxins in your cat’s body so they can be washed out of its system.
An IV to deliver badly needed fluid to your cat may also be started and allowed to rehydrate your cat for a few hours or even overnight.
If the gladiola has left signs of ulceration, the vet will give your cat famotidine or sucralfate to protect your cat’s GI system.
If your cat has begun to exhibit symptoms of kidney or liver involvement, the vet will run tests so the appropriate treatments. This includes fluid and electrolyte imbalances as well as any damage to the cat’s liver and kidneys.
If it begins to experience cardiac arrhythmia, the vet will administer the correct treatments. These may continue for several days.
Recovery of Gladiola Poisoning in Cats
Your cat has a much better chance of recovering from gladiola poisoning if it ate only a small amount of the plant. Your vet should keep it under observation for several hours to ensure that it is recovering, especially if it ate a large amount of the plant or managed to get to the corm. Your pet stands the best chance of recovery if treatment for the poisoning is begun within 18 hours of eating the plant or bulb.