What is Glory Lily Poisoning?
Unfortunately, these beauties are known to be fatal to dogs if they consume as few as two of the tubers (roots) of the glory lily. In addition, the glory lily is also dangerously toxic to other animals and humans as well. The colchicine alkaloids are present throughout the entire plant and flower, but is most concentrated in the tubers. Just eating one tuber can cause violent gastrointestinal distress, and any more than that may produce dangerous heart arrhythmias and even kidney and liver failure. The colchicine can also damage your dog’s blood cells, eventually causing multiple organs to fail. The glory lily is just as toxic to humans as to dogs, and is reported to have killed several in Africa.
The glory lily is one of the more poisonous lilies of the lily species, causing serious life-threatening symptoms within hours of consumption. The colchicine alkaloids in the lily are extremely toxic and can cause a range of issues from vomiting to liver failure and death without immediate treatment. The glory lily is a beautiful yellow and red vine lily from Asia and Africa, but has been a common cut flower in the United States for many years. The most poisonous part of the plant is the tuber (root), which has the most concentrated levels of colchicine alkaloids. If you think your dog may have eaten any part of a glory lily, it is essential that you get medical attention for him right away.
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Symptoms of Glory Lily Poisoning in Dogs
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Dehydration which includes dark urine, depression, dry skin, extreme thirst, loss of skin elasticity, reduced urination, sleepiness, sunken eyes
- Hiding under furniture or outside
- Kidney failure which includes swollen abdomen (fluid retention), unusual urination (marked increase or decrease), lethargy
- Liver failure which includes abdominal pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, swollen abdomen (fluid retention), vomiting, yellow skin and eyes
- Redness of the eyes, mouth, and tongue
- The glory lily is scientifically called the gloriosa superba, of the Liliaceae family. Other common names are climbing lily and superb lily
- These unique lilies grow in an ivy-like pattern, with a climbing vine that has tendrils on the end of the glossy, sword-shaped leaves
Causes of Glory Lily Poisoning in Dogs
The cause of poisoning in the glory lily is the colchicine alkaloids, which cause damage to the blood cells, leading to organ failure, and eventually death if left untreated. The roots are particularly toxic, though ingestion of any section of the plant can result in serious health issues for your dog.
Diagnosis of Glory Lily Poisoning in Dogs
Bring a part of the lily you believe your dog consumed to help the veterinarian get a faster diagnosis. The quicker the diagnosis, the sooner the treatment can be done. Also, inform the veterinarian all that you know about the incident, like how much and what part of the plant your dog consumed, when it happened, and if you have seen any adverse effects. It is best to have your dog’s medical records with you, or tell the veterinarian as much as you know about your dog, such as breed, age, overall health, last injury or illness, vaccinations, and behaviour and appetite changes you have noticed. The veterinarian will do a complete physical examination of your dog including body temperature, blood pressure, physical appearance, weight, reflexes, pulse oximetry, heart rate, lung sounds, respirations, and inspection of the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth.
An endoscopy may also be done to view the upper airway and can be used to remove any plant material. Some laboratory tests will be performed, such as biochemistry panel, complete blood count (CBC), blood gases, and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) levels. Many of these levels will be increased in the case of lily poisoning including phosphates, potassium, creatinine, and proteins. A urinalysis may show a decrease in specific gravity and increased amylase, glucose, and lipase.
Radiographs (x-rays) may be taken to view your dog’s intestinal tract and stomach to determine what damage may have been done. In addition, an ultrasound will possibly be performed to measure the size of the kidneys and liver and to assess the damage that has already been caused. In some cases, your veterinarian may use an MRI or CT scan to get a better view of the kidneys, liver, or stomach.
Treatment of Glory Lily Poisoning in Dogs
Evacuation of the toxic substance (colchicine alkaloids) will help reduce the symptoms, so the veterinarian will induce vomiting using a hydrogen peroxide solution. In addition, activated charcoal is recommended if it has been less than three hours since your dog ate the plant. Gastric lavage can be done to further empty the stomach of any poisonous residue left in your dog’s system. Fluid therapy with IV within the first 48 hours to flush your dog’s system reduces the chance of kidney and liver damage. The veterinarian will give saline two or three times within the first two days. If renal damage has already occurred, dialysis is essential to prevent permanent damage to the kidneys. Treatment to reduce liver failure is also given if needed.
Recovery of Glory Lily Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog is treated within the first eight hours and there have been no kidney or liver damage symptoms, the prognosis is good. However, if there have been any signs of liver or kidney damage or failure, the prognosis is poor, and the veterinarian may only be able to offer supportive treatment to make your dog as comfortable. Be sure to get rid of all lily plants in and outside of your home and avoid parks with these toxic plants. If you have any concerns, do not hesitate to call your veterinarian.