What is Red Lily Poisoning?
The red lily, which is one of the few that are native to Canada and the United States, has red or orange blooms and can grow up to three feet tall. Red lilies are often fatal when eaten by dogs, other small animals, and even small children. Just eating a few tubers can be lethal within three hours if untreated. Although the whole plant is toxic, the colchicine alkaloids are most concentrated in the tuber so even if your dog only eats a couple of tubers it can result in cardiac interruption, damage to the internal organs, and even death.
The red lily is one of the more poisonous lilies of the lily species, causing serious life-threatening symptoms within just a few hours of ingestion. The colchicine alkaloids in the red lily are very toxic and can cause a variety of complications from mild diarrhea to death if not treated immediately. The most poisonous part of the plant is the root (tuber) which has the most concentrated levels of the toxic colchicine alkaloids. If your dog has eaten any part of a red lily, it is important that you get medical attention for immediately. Failure to get treatment right away can be fatal.
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Symptoms of Red Lily Poisoning in Dogs
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Dehydration (dark urine, depression, dry skin, extreme thirst, loss of skin elasticity, reduced urination, sleepiness, sunken eyes)
- Hiding under furniture or outside
- Kidney failure (swollen abdomen - fluid retention, unusual urination - marked increase or decrease)
- Liver failure (abdominal pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, swollen abdomen - fluid retention, vomiting, yellow skin and eyes)
- Redness of the eyes, mouth, and tongue
The red lily is scientifically known as Lilium philadelphicum, of the Liliaceae family in the liliales order of the genus, lilium.
- Lilium andinum
- Lilium montanum
- Lilium lanceolatum
- Lilium umbellatum
- Lilium wansharicum
- Philadelphia lily
- Prairie lily
- Western red lily
- Wood lily
Causes of Red Lily Poisoning in Dogs
The cause of poisoning in the red lily is the colchicine alkaloids, which cause damage to the blood cells, leading to organ failure, and eventually death if left untreated. These compounds can cause abnormalities and damage in the organs and heart.
Diagnosis of Red Lily Poisoning in Dogs
Bring along a piece of the lily your dog ate to help the veterinarian get a faster diagnosis. The sooner the diagnosis, the faster your dog’s treatment can begin. In addition, tell the veterinarian what part and how much of the plant your dog ate, how long ago it was, and if you have seen any symptoms. Bring your dog’s medical records to aid in diagnosis as well. It helps to know your dog’s age, breed, health conditions, and medications, vaccination records, and changes in behavior.
A thorough examination of your dog will be done, including overall physical condition, blood pressure, blood oxygen level, heart rate, breath sounds, body temperature, weight, reflexes, and inspection of the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth.
An endoscopy can be used to remove any plant material to get a good view of your dog’s throat and airway. Some laboratory tests will be performed, such as blood urea nitrogen (BUN) levels, blood gases, complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, and urinalysis. Many of these levels will be increased in the case of red lily poisoning such as protein, creatinine, glucose, lipase, and potassium.
Radiographs (x-rays) may be done to see if any damage has been done to the intestinal tract and stomach. In addition, an ultrasound will probably be performed to measure the size of the liver and kidneys. In some cases, your veterinarian may need to use an MRI or CT scan to get a better view of the kidneys, liver, or stomach.
Treatment of Red Lily Poisoning in Dogs
Rapid treatment is best, and steps will be taken to induce vomiting and administer activated charcoal to absorb toxins. Gastric lavage can be done to empty the stomach of any poisonous residue left in your dog’s system. Intravenous (IV) fluid therapy to flush your dog’s system can help reduce the chance of damage to the kidneys. The veterinarian will give large amounts of saline two or three times within the first two days so your dog may need to be hospitalized. If renal damage has already occurred, dialysis is essential to prevent permanent damage to the kidneys. Treatment to prevent liver failure is also given if necessary.
Recovery of Red Lily Poisoning in Dogs
If your dog is treated within the first eight hours and there is no kidney or liver damage, the prognosis is good. However, if there have been any signs of kidney or liver failure, the prognosis is guarded and the veterinarian will provide whatever supportive treatments that can be done. 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.