Spring Danger: Symptoms of Lily Poisoning

Posted on April 2, 2012 under Pet Health & Safety

An Easter Lily, which can be bad for pet health, is beautiful but can be deadly to cats.

Dr. Jane Matheys, is a veterinarian and guest blogger for petinsurance provider, Pets Best.

With Easter quickly approaching, it’s a good time to remind pet owners that Easter lilies can be very bad for pet health, as they are highly toxic to cats. But even a single bite or nibble of a flower or leaf of the plant can be deadly for your cat.

Easter lily poisoning in cats has only been recognized as a problem by the National Animal Poison Control Center for about 20 years. Easter lilies are part of the scientific Lilium plant family that contains around 100 potentially toxic species and many hybrids. The more common Lily species that are known to be toxic to cats are the Easter lily, Tiger lily, Asiatic lily and Stargazer lily.

Easter lilies are very popular around Easter holidays, but most pet owners know little about the dangers these plants pose to cats. Because cats can experience accidents or illnesses at any time, even if they live indoors year round, it’s a good idea to have cat insurance.

Cats can suffer from kidney failure after ingesting even tiny amounts of the plant and flower or drinking water from the plant. All parts of the plant are toxic, especially the flower. Even the pollen is toxic and the large amount of pollen can get everywhere, including on a cat’s coat or paws where it can be ingested while grooming.

Cats are very sensitive to poisoning by Easter lilies. Pet health is in danger, as the kidney is the primary organ affected, and cats can die of kidney failure 3-5 days after exposure. Initial symptoms usually develop 6-12 hours after ingestion and include vomiting, salivation, anorexia and depression. Kidney failure typically follows, and the signs are increased thirst and urination, dehydration and lethargy. Toxins build up in the blood as the kidney failure rapidly progresses, and there may be a recurrence of vomiting, decreased urine production or even absence of urine production, weakness, recumbency, hypothermia and death.

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If you suspect that your cat has ingested any part of the Easter lily plant, pollen or water, consult your veterinarian immediately or take your cat to an emergency veterinary hospital without delay. The sooner your cat sees a veterinarian, the better. And having a pet health insurance plan in place, may help make tough pet health financial decisions easier. Fast treatment is imperative!

Diagnosis of Easter lily toxicity is usually made from the history provided by the owner along with blood and urine tests. Treatment is supportive and includes IV fluid therapy and protection of the gastrointestinal tract. Cats will need to be hospitalized for several days which can be costly. Consider purchasing cat insurance while your cat is young and healthy to help cover the expenses of these life- threatening emergencies.