What is Oriental Lily Poisoning?
The vast Lilium genus is a favorite of gardeners and there are numerous different cultivars and varieties. These species are true lilies, unlike some plants like water lily and lily of the valley which have “lily” in their names but actually belong to another genus. Since the Lilium genus is so large it is divided into seven different sections. Oriental lilies, belong to the Archelirion section. They are often called oriental hybrids because they are based on crosses between several different species, including Lilium auratum, Lilium spesiosum and some other Japanese breeds. Oriental lilies are usually tall, but some dwarf varieties are only a few feet high. They have large outward facing flowers and are sometimes referred to as stargazers. This is also the name for one specific cultivar of oriental lily.
Varieties of oriental lilies are white, pink, purple or red, and have multiples stripes and patterns on the petals. They bloom in mid to late summer and are known for their intense fragrance that is stronger at night. Like other members of the Lilium genus, oriental lilies are quite toxic to cats and can cause severe kidney failure even in small doses. This is not the case with dogs; however, eating lilies can still have adverse gastrointestinal symptoms. Dogs commonly vomit up the plant material and may have diarrhea as well due to gastrointestinal irritation. Very large doses could be more harmful, especially for a small dog. It’s a good idea to call a veterinarian if your dog eats this plant, but no other treatment may be needed.
Oriental lilies are a variety of lily that blooms in July and August. Like many Lilium species, they are very toxic to cats. They can also cause adverse gastrointestinal symptoms in dogs, especially if they are eaten in large amounts.
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Symptoms of Oriental Lily Poisoning in Dogs
These are the symptoms you may see in your dog after eating oriental lily.
- Reduced appetite
- Excessive thirst and frequent urination
- Other signs of kidney failure (much more likely with cats)
Three common cultivars of oriental lily may be found in your garden.
- Stargazer (the most popular)
- Little girl or pretty girl
Causes of Oriental Lily Poisoning in Dogs
These are some of the risk factors for oriental lily poisoning.
- Lilies growing in your house or garden can be toxic to all pets, especially cats
- Dogs that like to eat plants in large amounts may have severe gastrointestinal upset
- Small dogs could be more at risk for adverse effects
Diagnosis of Oriental Lily Poisoning in Dogs
Oriental lily poisoning is usually diagnosed because you saw your dog eat the plant or later found chewed stems and flowers. Oriental lilies aren’t as dangerous for dogs as they are for cats, but it is still a good idea to call a veterinarian if your dog ate this plant. The veterinarian will want to know the size and weight of your dog as well as how much was ingested. Describe the plant exactly and bring along a sample to the clinic if the veterinarian wants to see your dog. The veterinarian may want to do a urinalysis or blood tests to determine if toxicity occurred. Call a poison helpline or an emergency veterinary clinic immediately if there are severe symptoms and you want advice before heading to the hospital.
Treatment of Oriental Lily Poisoning in Dogs
Remove chewed stems and flowers from your dog’s mouth and rinse it out with warm water. Don’t induce vomiting unless recommended by a professional. Most dogs will vomit up the plant material on their own. No further treatment may be needed, although it’s a good idea to keep your dog on a simple diet for a few days and avoid foods that could further upset the digestive system.
If a very large amount was ingested or there are severe symptoms of toxicity, the veterinarian may recommend bringing your dog in for treatment. If poisoning was recent, emesis may be induced, especially if your dog hasn’t already vomited naturally. Activated charcoal may also be given to reduce absorption.
In severe cases your dog may become dehydrated and need additional fluids. If a very large amount is ingested, your dog’s kidneys could have trouble processing the toxins in lilies and further treatment might be needed. This is rare in dogs, but it would be more likely if your dog is very small.
Recovery of Oriental Lily Poisoning in Dogs
Adverse effects are limited with oriental lily poisoning and most dogs will recover. Veterinary treatment is a good idea if a large amount was ingested. Lilies should be avoided if you have cats around your house, but they aren’t the worst plant for dogs since it would take such a large dose to cause serious symptoms of toxicity. If your dog tends to eat plants, grow dog-safe wheat grass around your house and encourage him to munch on this. Many dogs get some of their nutritional requirements from eating greenery, but if this need is met, they will be less likely to eat toxic garden plants. This will help to avoid unnecessary worry and frequent calls to the veterinarian. It will also save the beautiful flowers in your garden from getting chewed.