The lily is a hardy, resilient flower grown from a bulb that delights florists and gardeners alike. Its scent is intoxicating and lingering, the colors bright and cheerful, and for some, the flower carries special meaning.

There are over 100 different types of lilies – and they’re all toxic for your pet, especially cats (but some varieties are toxic to dogs as well). Sure, many animals pass a potted, planted, or well-placed lily without eating it. Others, sadly, fall victim to lily toxicity. Because of its dangerous effects, we want to make sure pet owners know what to do to prevent – or manage – a potential poisoning.

The Season for Lilies

Spring reveals many blooms and blossoms, and lilies are among the first that pop up from their well-hidden bulbs so be aware of what’s in your yard (or a neighbor’s yard if your pet goes outside). Not only popular in garden beds, lilies abound in grocery, hardware, and home improvement stores to purchase as gifts around Easter time.

Accidental Poisoning

Lily toxicity is so potent that even a few small nibbles from the flower petals or leaves can cause significant damage to the kidneys. It’s also not uncommon for a cat to ingest pollen picked up by the fur or take a drink from a vase containing cut lilies. If you suspect your pet ate or licked a lily plant, please be watchful for the following symptoms:

  • Excessive thirst
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Refusal to eat
  • Weakness
  • Depression or lethargy
  • Paralysis
  • Trouble breathing
  • Swollen face or lower extremities
  • Seizures

It’s critical to seek emergency veterinary intervention as soon as possible. Left alone, your pet could suffer chronic kidney damage, pancreatitis, and/or an early death. However, because signs of lily toxicity don’t always surface right away, the best way to protect your pet is to simply eliminate exposure to this and other toxic plants.

Kidney Function

The kidneys are instrumental in removing waste (including toxins) from the body. Lily toxicity is so powerful that the kidneys become overrun and function is permanently depleted.

Aggressive intravenous therapy and activated charcoal provide a foothold against kidney failure. With blood tests, urine monitoring, anti-vomiting medication, and supportive care, lily toxicity can be contained. Often, a multi-day stay in the hospital is required.

Avoid and Prevent Lily Toxicity

Kidney cells do not regenerate, so a pet exposed to lily toxicity will likely have a chronic medical condition. Be prepared to deal with a pet emergency, and never hesitate to reach out to us. You don’t need a referral for emergency and critical care, but we do hope your pet never needs it!