What is Lilies Poisoning?
Consumption of just a couple lily tubers is known to be fatal in dogs, so be sure to keep these out of your dog’s reach at all times. Not only inside your home, but outside as well because dogs have been known to dig up lily tubers out of the ground. Even though the whole plant is toxic, the colchicine alkaloids are most concentrated in the tuber. Just eating one tuber may produce severe intestinal upset and if more is eaten, cardiac imbalance and organ damage are possible.
The lily is one of the more poisonous types of flower, causing serious life-threatening symptoms within hours of consumption. The colchicine alkaloids in the lily are extremely toxic and can cause a wide variety of complications from intestinal upset to organ failure and it can be fatal if not treated right away. Lilies come in many colors and types and some are more toxic than others. The tuber, which is the root, has the most concentrated level of colchicine alkaloids. If you think your dog may have eaten any type or portion of a lily, it is vital to get to a veterinary professional as soon as possible. Your dog has a better chance of survival if you get treatment right away.
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Symptoms of Lilies Poisoning in Dogs
The symptoms vary depending on how much and what portion of the lily is eaten. It also depends on which type of lily is consumed because some are more toxic than others:
High toxicity (star lily, glory lily, lily of the valley)
- Kidney failure (swollen abdomen - fluid retention, unusual urination - marked increase or decrease)
- Liver failure (abdominal pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, swollen abdomen, vomiting, yellow skin and eyes)
Moderate toxicity (calla lily, peace lily)
- Bad breath
- Dehydration (dark urine, depression, dry skin, extreme thirst, loss of skin elasticity, reduced urination, sleepiness, sunken eyes)
- Excessive drooling
Low toxicity (crinum lily, rain lily)
- Redness of the eyes, mouth, and tongue
Lilies come in many different types and colors, but a true lily is from the Lilium species in the Liliaceae family.
Lilium and Hemerocallis
- Asiatic hybrid
- Japanese show
Other Lily Species
- Lily of the Nile
- Lily of the valley
Causes of Lilies Poisoning in Dogs
The cause of poisoning in the lily depends on the type. The true lilies contain colchicine alkaloids, which cause damage to the blood cells, leading to organ failure, and eventually death if left untreated. Other lilies have insoluble oxalate crystals, which cause irritation to the skin and intestinal system.
Diagnosis of Lilies Poisoning in Dogs
Immediate treatment for a true lily is essential so you should bring your dog and a portion of the plant to the veterinarian or animal hospital right away. The faster the veterinarian can get a definitive diagnosis the sooner treatment can begin. Tell the veterinarian all the details you know about what happened, like what part and how much of the lily your dog ate, when it happened, and what symptoms you have seen, if any. Bring your dog’s medical history or tell the veterinarian as much about your dog as you can, like age, breed, health issues, previous injuries, changes in behavior, and shot records. The veterinarian will do a comprehensive physical examination of your dog which includes heart rate, blood pressure, respirations, breath sounds, blood oxygen level, and overall appearance.
The laboratory tests needed include urinalysis, biochemistry profile, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), complete blood count (CBC), blood gases, and glucose levels. Many of these will be higher than normal with lily poisoning including creatinine, potassium, proteins, and phosphates. A urinalysis will reveal decreased specific gravity and increased glucose, lipase, and amylase. An endoscopy may be done to remove any plant material and view the upper airway.
Radiographs (x-rays) may be done to view your dog’s intestinal tract and stomach to determine what damage has been done. Additionally, an ultrasound may be performed to measure the size of the kidneys and liver and to assess the damage. In some cases, your veterinarian may use a CT scan or MRI or to view the intestinal tract, stomach, liver, and kidneys.
Treatment of Lilies Poisoning in Dogs
Ridding your dog’s body of the toxic substance will help reduce the symptoms, so the veterinarian will induce vomiting using a hydrogen peroxide solution. In addition, activated charcoal is used to absorb the toxins and a gastric lavage can further empty the stomach of any poisonous residue. Intravenous (IV) fluids will be given to flush your dog’s system and reduce 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 will be needed to prevent permanent damage to the kidneys. Treatment to reduce liver failure is also given if needed.
Recovery of Lilies Poisoning in Dogs
The prognosis is good if your dog is treated within the first eight hours and there has been no kidney or liver damage. However, if your dog has any liver or kidney damage, the prognosis is poor, and the veterinarian may only be able to offer supportive treatment. Be sure to get rid of all lily plants inside and outside of your home and avoid parks with these poisonous beauties. If you have any questions or concerns, call your veterinarian right away.