What is Gloriosa Lily Poisoning?
The gloriosa is a stunningly beautiful red and yellow lily, originally from Africa, commonly used as indoor potted plants or cut flowers, and it is the national flower of Zimbabwe, but it has been cultivated to grow in the southern United States. Beauty aside, the gloriosa lily can be fatal to a dog or other small animal if eaten. As a matter of fact, it is toxic to humans as well, and even though physicians have been using it on humans for years to treat gout, the wrong amount can be fatal. Glory lily fatalities in humans are the same as with dogs; multiple organ failure and sepsis. The tubers are especially toxic and if your dog eats just one, he may experience abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. More than one can be fatal within just a few hours, caused by the damaging effect on the blood cells which eventually causes liver and kidney damage and death.
Gloriosa lily (Gloriosa superba) poisoning is an extremely dangerous condition which can produce serious side effects within minutes of eating the plant. There are alkaloids (colchicine) throughout the plant, but the highest content is in the seeds and the tubers (roots). In the first few minutes of ingestion, your dog may start vomiting, have diarrhea, and will be generally depressed and tired. However, these symptoms go from bad to worse very quickly, and may lead to kidney damage, liver failure, and death in less than a few hours. If you believe your pet ate any part of a gloriosa lily, you should go to the veterinary hospital or clinic as soon as you can. This is a life-threatening situation and should be taken care of immediately.
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Symptoms of Gloriosa Lily Poisoning in Dogs
- Abdominal pain
- Dehydration (dry skin, excessive thirst, reduced urination, loss of skin elasticity)
- Kidney damage and failure (fluid retention and an increase or decrease in urination)
- Liver damage and failure (yellowing of skin, appetite loss, swollen abdomen, extreme fatigue)
- Shock (cold feet, marked drowsiness, lack of response)
The gloriosa lily is a part of the Liliaceae family and is a climbing vine like an ivy plant. Some of the other names for this beauty are:
- Glory lily
- Climbing lily
- Superb lily
Causes of Gloriosa Lily Poisoning in Dogs
The cause of gloriosa lily poisoning is the colchicine in the plant, including the flowers, seeds, and roots. Colchicine kills your dog’s blood cells and leads to the failure of multiple organs and death if not treated right away.
Diagnosis of Gloriosa Lily Poisoning in Dogs
It is helpful if you can bring a photograph or piece of the lily plant your dog ate to get a better idea of what the toxic agent is. Your veterinarian may be able to get plant remains from your dog’s stool or vomit, but it may be too damaged to tell what it is. In addition, let your veterinarian know whether your pet has been ill recently or is on any medications, including over the counter and human medications. She will give your dog a complete physical exam including reflexes, temperature, blood pressure, pulse, weight, breath sounds, and overall skin and coat condition.
Once that is finished, your veterinarian will draw some blood to check blood gases, chemistry profile, and complete blood count (CBC). These tests will measure the amount of liver enzymes, gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT), alkaline phosphatase (ALT), and bilirubin. These tests are able to indicate whether all the major organs are functioning and at what capacity. A urinalysis will be done to check glucose, lipase, and amylase.
Radiographs (x-rays) may also be needed so the veterinary professional can get a better look at your pet’s stomach and intestinal tract. An ultrasound can also be helpful in determining what kind of damage has been done, if any. Additionally, the veterinarian may need to get a CT scan or MRI to get a detailed view of the stomach, liver, and kidneys.
Treatment of Gloriosa Lily Poisoning in Dogs
The treatment for colchicine poisoning can vary, but the most common procedures are evacuation, fluids, medications, and observations. In some cases, the veterinarian may decide not to use evacuation techniques, such as if your dog has already been vomiting for a while, or if it has been too long since ingestion. It is best to get treatment started in less than three hours, because any longer than that and the toxins may have already done irreparable damage to the organs.
The veterinarian will induce vomiting with ipecac or hydrogen peroxide solution and use activated charcoal to absorb whatever toxins are left in the system. She may also decide to do a gastric lavage, which is done by gently rinsing the stomach with warm saline solution to clean away any plant material and toxic chemicals.
An intravenous (IV) line will be started to provide fluids in order to flush your pet’s system and prevent kidney and liver damage. This prevents dehydration and sometimes, electrolytes will be given to stabilize your dog’s electrolyte levels. Fluid therapy may be continued for up to 48 hours, depending on the symptoms.
If renal damage has been indicated, dialysis is necessary for preventing permanent kidney damage. Medication will be given, including granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) to help stimulate white blood cells, atropine for cessation of diarrhea and nausea, and antibiotics to prevent infection. Blood transfusion may be necessary as well, depending on the amount of damage that has occurred.
Hospitalization and Observation
The veterinarian will keep your dog for 24 to 48 hours for observation and palliative treatment.
Recovery of Gloriosa Lily Poisoning in Dogs
Getting treatment within the first few hours is important for a successful recovery. If not treated right away, damage to the kidneys and liver may be permanent and will cause death within 24 to 36 hours. Remove the gloriosa lily plants from your pet’s reach and be sure you do not have any other poisonous plants where your dog can access them. If you are unsure of what kinds are poisonous, you can get a list of toxic plants from your veterinarian or online.