What is Fire Lily Poisoning?
The fire lily, or amaryllis, is one type of fire lily of the Amaryllidaceae family. This beautiful, plant is located in many parts of South America and South Africa. One interesting fact about the fire lily is that it is called this unique name in South Africa because it is known to consistently bloom after a fire.
The family of the fire lily is divided among three subfamilies; these are Amaryllidoideae, Allioideae, and Agapanthoideae. The largest family is the Amaryllidoideae, which is the family of the fire lily. The members of this family, including the fire lily, have a tropical-like appearance, with multi-colored bulbous and trumpet-like flowers that are vivid and bright. Although this plant is gorgeous, it is also highly poisonous if ingested by dogs and other small animals.
The fire lily is like many other ornamental and beautiful plants with bulbs, such as buttercups, daffodils, and calla lily plants. While they are stunning to look at, they are very toxic and should be avoided in the home if you have pets.
Fire lily poisoning in dogs is a result of dogs becoming poison by this plant known as Amaryllis. The fire lily contains a toxic crystalline alkaloid.
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Symptoms of Fire Lily Poisoning in Dogs
Symptoms of fire lily poisoning in dogs will occur if the dog ingests any part of the plant, namely the flowering part. Symptoms include:
- Stomach discomfort and cramping
- Loss of muscle control
There are different types of plants that contain lycorine, a very toxic crystalline alkaloid. Plants that contain lycorine and other toxic alkaloids include (by their scientific name):
- Amaryllis belladonna
- Ammocharis coranica
- Boophone disticha
- Brunsvigia spp.
- Cyrtanthus spp.
- Haemanthus coccineus
- Narcissus spp.
- Zephyranthes spp.
- Nerine spp.
- Scadoxus spp.
Causes of Fire Lily Poisoning in Dogs
Causes of fire lily poisoning begin with the ingestion of the toxic plant. Specific causes include:
- The containment of lycorine, a crystalline alkaloid that is toxic
- Lycorine being an active inhibitor of the alkaloids
- Lycorine prevents the synthesis of protein
Diagnosis of Fire Lily Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog has consumed fire lily, take him to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Also, take a part of the plant in with you so the veterinarian may come to a conclusive diagnosis as soon as possible. The veterinarian will ask you questions concerning how much of the plant he ingested in the time frame between ingesting the plant and bringing him to the office.
Your veterinarian will then begin to assess his symptoms and perform blood work, urinalysis, and a biochemistry profile. He may also run electrolyte panel, check for organ functioning, and check protein levels. All of the tests that your veterinarian performs will determine his method of treatment. Fortunately, your medical professional is trained to look at the dog’s symptoms along with the test results to develop a plan of treatment.
Since lycorine is highly toxic when ingested, your veterinarian may go ahead and begin treatment as he is assessing your dog. He may immediately begin emesis, oxygen therapy, and fluid therapy, depending on your dog’s symptoms. If immediate treatment is not given, this crystalline alkaloid can be lethal.
Treatment of Fire Lily Poisoning in Dogs
Treatment of amaryllis poisoning, or fire lily poisoning, is symptomatic. There is no antidote for this type of poisoning. Treatment methods may include:
Your veterinarian will administer IV fluids to stabilize your dog. IV fluids promote proper kidney function and urination, thus helping your dog rid his body of the crystalline alkaloids. IV fluids also give your dog electrolytes, which are helpful for his system to recover.
Emesis will be performed by the veterinarian by giving him a solution, possibly of hydrogen peroxide, and will help him dispel the contents from his stomach. Activated charcoal will also be administered to absorb any of the remaining contents containing the toxins from this plant.
Your dog may be in the hospital for a few days to be monitored by medical professionals. Any symptoms that your dog has will be treated as they arise, and monitoring may include the regular checking of heart rate, body temperature, protein and enzyme levels, and organ function. Your dog may also receive oxygen therapy as well.
Recovery of Fire Lily Poisoning in Dogs
In order to properly recover from fire lily poisoning, your dog will need to rest and receive lots of fluids so that his body can get rid of the toxins. Once your dog is able to come home, you will have instructions to follow for aftercare. It will be important to avoid rough play and outdoor activities; rest will be very important.
The veterinarian may prescribe a prescription dog food or recommend a bland diet by giving you a list of foods that he can eat. He will also alert you to any new symptoms to watch for, and will recommend that you call him if any of these adverse symptoms arise.
Checking your home for poisonous plants should be done at this time to avoid this happening in the future. If you have other ornamental and bulbous plants from this family or any other toxic plants within your home or on your property, it is recommended that you have them removed. You can get a list of toxic plants from your veterinarian or from your local Humane Society.