What is Peace Lily Poisoning?
Peace lily plants are a genus of flowering plants in the Araceae family displaying large flat leaves and large, uniquely shaped white flowers. All parts of the peace lily contain calcium oxalate crystals and these crystals can cause intense pain and irritation when the plant is chewed or swallowed. The immediate pain posed by the sharp crystals usually prevents animals from doing more than sampling the plant. On rare occasions, the dog may eat larger amounts of plant material. On those occasions, your canine companion may require a visit to the veterinarian’s office.
The peace lily (Spathiphyllum) contains insoluble calcium oxalate crystals which can cause intense pain and swelling in the mouth when chewed and gastrointestinal tract if swallowed.
Book First Walk Free!
Symptoms of Peace Lily Poisoning in Dogs
The peace lily plant contains insoluble calcium oxalate crystals in all parts of the plant. When chewed or swallowed these crystals can cause:
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Dilated eyes
- Difficulty swallowing
- Excessive drooling
- Hoarse barking
- Labored breathing
- Loss of appetite
- Numbness of exposed area
- Obstruction of the airway
- Pawing/rubbing at the face or mouth
- Swelling of the tongue and lips
Spathiphyllum plants are a genus of flowering plant with attractive broad leaves and a large distinctive white flower. It most commonly called a peace lily but is also well known as the mauna loa plant. Several other types of plants contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals which are the cause of irritation from Spathiphyllum genus of plants. These plants can include:
- Arrowhead vine (Syngonium podophyllum)
- Calla or arum lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica)
- Candelabra cactus (Euphorbia lactea)
- Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema modestrum)
- Charming Dieffenbachia (Dieffenbachia amoena)
- Devil’s ivy (Pothos, Epipremnum)
- Elephant’s Ear (Alocasia/Caladium/Xanthosoma)
- Flamingo plant (Anthurium)
- Fruit salad plant (Monstera)
- Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)
- Peace lily (Spathiphyllum)
- Philodendron (Philodendron)
- Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum)
- Skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus)
- Wild calla (Calla)
Causes of Peace Lily Poisoning in Dogs
All parts of the peace lily contain the calcium oxalate crystals that can cause distress to your pet. Calcium oxalate is a calcium salt of an oxalic acid which produces irritation and numbness to the tissues it contacts. Chewing any part of the peace lily results in intense pain and inflammation to the tissues of the mouth and throat when the microscopic crystals embed themselves into the soft tissues that they contact. Plant material or sap that is swallowed may cause the irritation to extend through the throat and the gastrointestinal tract, causing internal swelling and severe pain. Swelling in the airway can also cause difficulties when breathing.
Diagnosis of Peace Lily Poisoning in Dogs
Symptoms of exposure to calcium oxalate crystals, such as in the consumption of the peace lily, will present instantaneously, allowing a preliminary diagnosis based on the identification of the plant combined with the symptoms the canine is showing. Symptoms have occasionally been known to take up to two hours to show up if large portions of plant material get consumed without chewing. If you did not observe what your pet ingested, or if your dog swallowed sizeable quantities of the plant, your veterinarian might recommend a visit to the office.
Your dog’s doctor will want to obtain information from you about any opportunistic eating that was seen or suspected in addition to any concurrent supplements or prescriptions that your dog is on. A urinalysis, complete blood count (CBC), and biochemistry profile will generally be done in an effort to reveal any concurrent diseases or disorders. If your dog is vomiting from exposure to the plant material, then the vomitus will also be visually inspected and then tested for toxins. Plant material in the vomit may help confirm the diagnosis.
Treatment of Peace Lily Poisoning in Dogs
Immediate treatment will start with a thorough rinsing out of the mouth and affected areas with fresh, clean water to remove as many of the irritating crystals as possible. You may also want to offer your canine something else cold to eat or drink, such as ice cubes or milk, to ease the mouth pain until you are able to contact your veterinarian. The unpleasant taste and discomfort will usually prevent most canines from consuming much of the actual plant material, so rinsing the mouth area may be all that is required. In certain circumstances, your veterinarian may also recommend giving your dog an appropriate pain reliever or antihistamine.
A visit to your veterinarian’s office will generally be recommended if a sizeable amount of the plant material or sap is ingested. An antihistamine might be injected into the patient’s muscle if it was not administered previously, administration as an intramuscular injection is likely to occur at this time, along with intravenous fluid treatment to prevent dehydration. Gastroprotective medications may help to prevent damage to the stomach lining itself, and if the airway is exhibiting significant swelling, your canine may need to stay at the veterinary hospital for observation until the swelling subsides.
Recovery of Peace Lily Poisoning in Dogs
Prognosis for dogs who have ingested smaller portions of the plants that contain the calcium oxalate crystals, such as the peace lily, is usually quite good. The painful effects of the crystals in the mouth and gastrointestinal tract tend to dissipate within twelve to twenty-four hours from ingestion. If any swelling in the airway has occurred, it should be thoroughly evaluated by a professional. Massive doses of calcium oxalate crystals are rare due to the initial pain and discomfort in the mouth. When pets consume larger amounts, it can cause long-term liver and kidney damage, so additional monitoring of the liver and kidneys is recommended in the event of the ingestion of substantial quantities of the sap.
Peace Lily Poisoning Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
If my dog bushed against a peace lily plant will it cause him skin irritation? I don't think he ate any, no other symptoms. But he wont stop licking a few different spots on his legs, most spots are close to his "elbows" he licks them so much he is making raw spots.
Add a comment to Banjo's experience
Was this experience helpful?
My puppy may have swallowed plastic
If Joker has swallowed plastic, it would be best to have a check with your Veterinarian as plastic pieces can cause gastrointestinal puncture if sharp or can get obstructed leading to other problems which may require surgery to correct. The size and shape of the plastic would determine Joker’s ability to pass the piece. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
Add a comment to Joker's experience
Was this experience helpful?