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Lily Toxicity & Pet Friendly House Plants

Spring is in the air! And as we venture back into nature, we seem to celebrate the longer, brighter days by bringing nature into our homes as well. As April approaches, plants and flowers are a common and tempting sight in florist shops all around us, but many plants can be dangerous to our pets and should be admired from a distance.

True Lilies and Your Pet

This time of year, lilies are a popular choice for bouquets, however, flowers of the Lilium species can be extremely toxic to cats and harmful to dogs. Unfortunately, many of these quite toxic ‘true lily’ species commonly show up in floral arrangements. Some examples of these lovely but hazardous blossoms include:

  • Easter lilies
  • Tiger lilies
  • Stargazer lilies
  • Wood lilies
  • Asiatic lilies
  • Rubrum lilies
  • Japanese Show lilies
  • Oriental lilies

Along with daylilies, these are some of the most harmful lilies your cat may be exposed to. While dogs that ingest these lilies may have some gastrointestinal distress, every part of a true lily is extremely poisonous to cats including the stem, leaves, flowers, and even the pollen and water the lilies sit in. Signs of poisoning can appear within hours in your cat and may initially include milder signs like lethargy or decreased appetite and gastrointestinal signs like drooling or vomiting. Left untreated, however, lily toxicosis can cause acute kidney failure within hours to days and may lead to death.

How About Other ‘Lilies’?

Though many plants with the word ‘lily’ in their names aren’t technically ‘true lilies,’ they may still cause illness in your dog or cat.

Both calla lilies and peace lilies can be harmful to your dog or cat by releasing calcium oxalate crystals that cause severe irritation of the mouth, throat, or esophagus. Common signs to watch for are drooling or pawing at the mouth along with a lack of interest in food or even vomiting.

Lily-of-the-valley is another beautiful yet dangerous plant your pet may encounter in your home or out in nature. This type of lily does not cause the acute kidney failure of the ‘true lilies,’ but rather contains toxins that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, low blood pressure, and irregular heartbeats.

Safer Options

Our pets are clever and curious and will often investigate items newly brought into a home. Rather than trying to ensure your pets avoid these dangerous plants, it is safer not to bring them into your home at all and to opt for pet-friendly houseplant options like pilea or Christmas cacti.

Check out the ASPCA’s thorough lists of toxic and non-toxic plants here:

CATS: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/cats-plant-list
DOGS: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/dogs-plant-list

While a number of factors affect what is toxic to a specific pet, if you suspect your dog or cat has chewed on or ingested any plant of the lily family, it is vital that you seek immediate veterinary care. Early treatment is the best way to improve your pet’s prognosis if they’ve been exposed to a poisonous plant.

Any curious pet can be tempted to take a nibble of a new plant; puppies and kittens, as they learn to explore the world around them by tasting and chewing, can often be most at risk. The spring season is full of holidays and celebrations that invite gatherings and gifts. As the days get warmer, carefully consider what plants you bring into your home and know what’s growing in your garden. Because the best way to celebrate spring with your four-legged family is safely!

If you have any questions or concerns about your furry loved one, feel free to contact one of our Veterinary Specialists at BetterVet!

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