What is Climbing Lily Poisoning?
Climbing lily, commonly known as gloriosa, is a rooted, tuberous plant within the family Colchicaceae. These plants are native to the tropical areas of Asia and Africa. The species of this plant is rather small, containing 12 species. Climbing lily can grow from 3 feet to 8 feet tall and is a beautiful climbing vine with trumpeting, tube-like flowers. The slender vines have long stems which are narrow and contain flowers of a variety of colors, such as purple, yellow, and red.
In Africa and India, many preparations of this plant are used for medicinal purposes and it is quite respected. However, this plant does contain the toxin known as colchicine alkaloids and is poisonous when ingested by dogs. Having contact with the leaves and stems can cause moderate to severe skin irritations as well.
Climbing lily poisoning in dogs occurs when dogs consume all or part of the climbing lily, or gloriosa, plant. Climbing lily contains the toxin known as colchicine alkaloids, which can be fatal if ingested in large amounts without immediate treatment.
Symptoms of Climbing Lily Poisoning in Dogs
Climbing lily toxicity presents itself in a variety of symptoms. If your dog ingests climbing lily, he may experience the following symptoms:
- Abdominal cramps
- Organ failure
- Heavy breathing
- Difficulty catching his breath
Climbing lily is also known by a variety of alternate names.
- Creeping lily
- Flame lily
- Gloriosa lily
- Malabar glory lily
- Turk’s cap
- Rothschild’s glory lily
- Superb lily
Causes of Climbing Lily Poisoning in Dogs
The various symptoms of Climbing Lily are caused by the ingestion of the plant. Specific causes of Climbing Lily poisoning are due to the colchicine and other alkaloids. Causes of Climbing Lily poisoning include:
- All parts of the plant containing colchicine, especially the tubers
- All parts the plant containing toxic alkaloids
- Immediate damage to the blood cells
- Immediate organ damage and possible organ failure
Diagnosis of Climbing Lily Poisoning in Dogs
If you suspect your dog has consumed climbing lily, take a sample of the plant to the veterinarian with you. Be sure to take your dog to an emergency veterinarian if it is after hours, as immediate treatment is crucial.
The veterinarian will ask you a variety of questions concerning the ingestion of the plant, such as how much he ingested, and how much time has passed since he ate the plant. He will also ask you about the symptoms your dog is having while simultaneously assessing your dog for the symptoms and any other clinical signs. He will do a complete physical examination which includes checking his vital signs and carefully looking at his mouth, ears, eyes, and nasal area. He may perform an endoscopic procedure to look into the upper airways to check for plant material. He will also run laboratory tests, which include a complete blood count, the checking of blood urea nitrogen levels, and a biochemistry profile to check for organ functionality. With climbing lily poisoning, your dog may have elevated levels of potassium, protein, creatinine, and phosphates. A urinalysis may also be performed to give the veterinarian even more information.
In addition to these tests, imaging may be done to check the inner organs of the kidneys, liver, and stomach areas. These tests will allow the veterinarian to see any damage that has been caused to the organs by the toxic substances within the climbing lily.
Treatment of Climbing Lily Poisoning in Dogs
Treatment of climbing lily poisoning will vary depending on your dog’s condition and the amount of toxicity. Treatment methods may include:
The veterinarian may induce vomiting using a solution containing hydrogen peroxide or other similar method. This is an important procedure and will help your dog release some of the toxicity in his stomach. Emesis is usually followed up by the administration of activated charcoal, which absorbs any remaining toxic substances from the plant and prevents them from being absorbed into the bloodstream.
Climbing Lily is very irritating to the skin. If your dog shows distress within the facial area, including the eyes and mouth, the veterinarian will cleanse your dog thoroughly with a mild detergent before rinsing him well. He may choose to completely bathe the dog; this depends on his symptoms.
Gastric lavage will empty the stomach even more so after the emesis has been performed. The dog will require anesthesia for this process, as a tube is placed within the stomach to draw out, or flush out, any remaining toxins.
Fluid therapy is crucial in treating climbing lily poisoning. Fluids help restore the dog’s electrolytes and rehydrate the system, especially after emesis and gastric lavage have been performed. If your dog suffered from diarrhea, further dehydration could have occurred. Fluid therapy also encourages proper functioning of the kidneys. If severe kidney damage has occurred, the veterinarian may want to perform dialysis.
Recovery of Climbing Lily Poisoning in Dogs
Climbing lily poisoning is very serious. Many dogs who do not receive immediate treatment succumb to the toxins within the plant. If your dog has been treated within 4 to 8 hours, his prognosis is fair to guarded. Damage to the kidneys and liver will impact your dog’s recovery. He may need to stay in the hospital longer in order to recover properly. Even then, the prognosis is guarded to poor.
If you are able to take your dog home, your veterinarian will give you specific instructions on how to care for your pet. It will be very important to not leave him alone for any amount of time and to keep watch of any new symptoms that may develop. Your veterinarian may also recommend a special diet so that his system may heal, especially after the emesis and gastric lavage. Your veterinarian will give you a list of foods that he recommends and he will also tell you any foods that you need to avoid.
As a loving dog owner, be sure to keep your dog comfortable and encourage rest. Your veterinarian will also want to see him several times for follow-up visits, and it is very important to keep all appointments. Be sure to remove any toxic plants from inside or around your home. If you are unsure which plants are toxic, you can contact your local ASPCA or Humane Society, or ask your veterinarian.