What is Pig Lily Poisoning?
Pig lily is a common plant known to cause poisoning in dogs. This plant originated in South Africa and has gained popularity as both a garden and house plant due to it's beautiful color. Despite their popularity, these plants are a common cause of poisoning in pets. This is due to the raphides in the plants, a form of calcium oxalate that is known to cause acute swelling, pain and difficulty breathing in dogs.
The ingestion of lily poisoning in dogs can be dangerous due to the swelling it may cause in the respiratory tract. Very rarely it can lead to renal and liver failure. It is vital that if you suspect poisoning you contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
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Symptoms of Pig Lily Poisoning in Dogs
The first symptom noticed by owners is often acute swelling of the face and muzzle. Other symptoms may include
- Swelling of the tongue, lips and oral cavities leading to difficulty swallowing
- Labored breathing
- Pawing at the face
- Foaming at the mouth
- Excessive salivation
Pig lily is a member of the Araceae family. These are common houseplants and are one of the leading causes of non-fatal poisoning in dogs. Despite this, many people are unaware of their potentially toxic effect. Pig lily is also often called:
- Trumpet lily
- Garden calla
- Aaron lily
- White arum
- Florist’s calla
Causes of Pig Lily Poisoning in Dogs
Pig lily plants contain sharp crystals which are arranged in bundles called raphides. If your pet bites into the plant, the crystals are released and shot into the tissues of the mouth, resulting in acute pain and swelling of the mouth.
Diagnosis of Pig Lily Poisoning in Dogs
If you suspect your pet has consumed pig lily, your veterinarian will take this into account while taking a full history. The diagnosis of pig lily poisoning is often made from the clinical signs and history; if you know your dog may have had access to the plant it is vital you inform your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will perform a full clinical examination, including heart and respiration rate, temperature and demeanor. If your dog is vomiting, the contents should be inspected for plant debris that will confirm the diagnosis.
In very rare cases where a massive amount of the plant is consumed permanent renal and liver damage may occur. Your veterinarian may perform renal and liver blood tests. Elevated enzymes are indicative of damage to these systems.
Treatment of Pig Lily Poisoning in Dogs
Your veterinarian will flush your pet’s mouth with cool water, or possibly saline, to remove as much of the plant debris as possible. The veterinarian may also offer small amounts of fluid such as tuna water or broth to help flush the crystals from the mouth. If your pet is suffering from vomiting, anti-emetic medication may be given, as well as fluid therapy to prevent dehydration. As the crystals and the swelling can cause pain, analgesics may be given to provide relief for your pet.
Due to the self-limiting nature of the poisoning, your pet is not expected to deteriorate. However, the veterinarian may keep your pet in for observation due to the rare risk of dyspnea (difficulty breathing) caused by the respiratory system swelling. If this occurs, an endotracheal tube may be placed to assist in breathing.
In the rare cases where enough of the plant is consumed to damage the renal and liver systems, fluid therapy may also be used to encourage diuresis.
Recovery of Pig Lily Poisoning in Dogs
Although the symptoms of pig lily poisoning can look very frightening, most pets are expected to make a full recovery within 12-24 hours. Due to the gastrointestinal effects of the toxin, a bland, soft diet should be given in the days following poisoning. You should encourage your pet to consume fluids to combat the dehydration that may be caused by vomiting. Bone broth is an excellent source of both hydration and nutrition that is gentle on your pet’s stomach during recovery.
If your pet suffers from renal or liver damage he will need ongoing care. Your veterinarian will be able to discuss renal support diets with you, as well as the potential for medication and possible monitoring through regular blood tests. As many medications are processed by the kidney and liver, damage to these systems may be a contraindication for medications in the future. Ensure veterinarians are aware of your pet’s history with pig lily poisoning before prescribing medication.To prevent future poisoning, make certain that any remaining plants are either removed from your pet’s environment or kept out of reach.