Spring and Lily Toxicity

Spring is coming! And with it often comes an influx of springtime flowers. These flowers, although beautiful, can sometimes be harmful to our pets. The most common springtime flower to cause concern for pet owners is lilies.

There are two types of lilies: true and benign. Benign lilies include peace, Peruvian and Calla lilies. These lilies contain oxalate crystals, which can cause irritation to the mouth, tongue and pharynx. Signs you may see at home include drooling, foaming and pawing at the mouth along with vomiting. Although these symptoms are uncomfortable for your pet, they are not fatal.

True lilies, on the other hand, are lilies that belong to the Lilium or Hemerocallis species. Some examples of these types of lilies are tiger, day, Easter, stargazer and wood lilies. All parts of these lilies are extremely poisonous to cats! Leaves, petals, stamens and pollen are all threats. Even minimal exposure, such as getting pollen on whiskers and ingesting it during grooming or licking water that lilies have been in, can be fatal.

The exact chemical responsible for this toxicity remains unknown. However, if lily poisoning is not treated, cats can develop kidney failure and death can result in as little as three days.  Treatment includes hospitalization and intravenous fluid administration to flush the toxin out of the body and protect the kidneys. Blood work will be repeated throughout a cat’s stay at the hospital to monitor kidney values. Cats may be referred to an emergency facility for continuous fluid administration overnight. Cats that are treated quickly usually respond well to treatment.

Unfortunately, there is nothing that can be done for your cat at home if they have been exposed to lilies. Please contact Animal Poison Control at 1-888-426-4435. Poison control is staffed 24/7 and has a $65 consultation fee (payable by credit card). However, if your pet has an active HomeAgain microchip, this fee is waived! Thanks, HomeAgain! This is another reason why I love HomeAgain, but I will leave that for another blog!

Please contact Oaklawn Animal Hospital immediately if your cat ever ingests any part of a lily. If it is after hours, take your cat to an emergency facility! You don’t have time to waste.