Lilies are a popular flower for decorating around Easter and in the Spring. Curious cats tend to investigate with their mouths and enjoy chewing on plants. Depending on the species of lily, ingesting even a small amount can lead to anywhere from mouth irritation to kidney failure and death. Cats are far more sensitive to the toxin than dogs, which may only experience gastrointestinal upset.
Lilies in the “true lily” and “daylily” families are the most dangerous. The whole plant is toxic including the stems, leaves, flowers, pollen, and even the water they are put in. The exact toxin in the lily has not been identified.
Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)- Contain toxins called cardiac glycosides that cause heart arrythmia (abnormal beating), vomiting, diarrhea, and weakness.
Gloriosa or flame lily- The roots of this species contain toxins that can cause multi-system organ failure.
Mildly Toxic Lilies:
Calla lilies (Zantedeschia species) & Peace lilies (Spathiphyllum species) – Both contain insoluble (don’t dissolve in water) calcium oxylate crystals. The crystals are released when the pet bites the plant and can irritate the mouth, throat and esopahgus. Pets may paw at their mouth, drool, foam at the mouth, and cry or whine. Rarely, swelling in the mouth or airways can cause breathing issues. Ingestion can lead to vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms resolve on their own without treatment.
Peruvian Lilies (Alstroemeria species)- Ingestion of large amounts can cause mild symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea. Symptoms will resolve on their own.
Symptoms of lily toxicity can start immediately after ingestion or up to 12 hours after. Early signs include lethargy, drooling, vomiting and loss of appetite. Damage to the kidneys is irreversible and signs including increased urination and dehydration can be seen within 12 to 24 hours. If left untreated, cats can develop kidney failure within 24 to 72 hours.
The veterinary team’s ability to diagnose most toxins depends heavily on the client. Be aware of the possible dangers around your house. Know the species of plants in your house and around your property. Supplying pictures of the plant your pet chewed on, or bringing in part of it, can be extremely helpful. Depending on the time from ingestion, blood work may already show a significant change in kidney values.
Swift treatment is imperative to a positive outcome. Depending on the species, vomiting may be induced to remove any plant parts from the stomach. Be sure to consult with the Pet Poison Helpline or an emergency veterinarian before inducing vomiting at home. Activated charcoal may be administered to bind any remaining toxins. Intravenous fluids may be needed to flush the toxins out and support kidney function. Kidney supporting supplements or prescription diets are available to slow the progression of renal disease.
The best prevention is total avoidance of any lily species in your household or on your property. If that is not an option, monitor your pets closely around these plants. Discourage chewing on any plants, whether they are toxic or not.
If you think your pet may have eaten any part of a lily or any other toxin, contact an emergency veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline immediately. Always have the plant, toxin, or packaging available when you call and bring it with to the veterinarian.
Rodenticide, rat or mouse poison, is one of the most common poisonings among pets. There are different types of poison, knowing which one your pet ingested is extremely important. Having the packaging available or knowing the active ingredient when contacting your veterinarian is essential to the pet’s treatment. The amount and approximate time of ingestion is also helpful in determining the treatment course.
Rodenticide comes in a wide variety of color (green, blue, red, etc.) and in many forms (pellets, blocks, grain, etc.). Products that look the same or have a similar name may have different active ingredients. There are four common active ingredients in mouse and rat poisons: long-acting anticoagulants, cholecalciferol, bromethalin, and phosphides.
This is the most common and widely known type of rodenticide. The are several different active ingredients, all of which act like a blood thinner, preventing clotting, and can result in internal bleeding. When ingested, it typically takes 3-5 days before symptoms appear. Common signs include lethargy, coughing, difficulty breathing, weakness, pale gums, vomiting, nose bleeds, bruising, bloody urine, swollen joints or extremities, not eating, and bleeding from gums.
Treatment for this type of rodenticide includes Vitamin K, which supports the body’s natural blood clotting ability. Supportive care such as blood transfusions, IV fluids, and other treatments may be necessary depending on the severity of symptoms and amount of ingestion.
Rodenticides with bromethalin as the active ingredient cause brain swelling and neurological symptoms. This type of rodenticide does not have an antidote. Urgent veterinary care is crucial and may include decontamination, IV fluids, and special drugs to decrease brain swelling. Ingestion can cause serious, long term effects. Symptoms include lethargy, weakness, ataxia (acting uncoordinated), tremors, seizures, paralysis and even death.
Cholecalciferol is one of the most potent types of rodenticide. The active ingredient elevates the blood calcium to a dangerous level. If left untreated this can cause kidney failure. Signs may not show up for 1-3 days, by which time significant damage can already occur. Symptoms can include increased thirst and urination, lethargy, decreased appetite, and vomiting. Acute kidney failure can develop 2-3 days after ingestion. This form of rodenticide does not have an antidote and a small amount can cause severe clinical signs and death. Supportive care and hospitalization are required, but still may not produce a positive outcome.
Phosphides are commonly found in mole and gopher baits as well as rat and mouse poison. When mixed with stomach acid the deadly phosphine gas is released. Food in the stomach increases the amount of gas produced. A very small amount of phosphides can cause severe poisoning and immediate veterinary care is required. Extreme caution must be taken as the vomit from a patient will release the poisonous gas and is dangerous to humans as well. Inducing vomiting is better left to veterinary professional, but if vomiting occurs, keep the pet and yourself in a well-ventilated area. Administration of antacids can decrease the amount of gas produced. Symptoms of ingestion include drooling, nausea, stomach bloating, vomiting, abdominal pain, shock, collapse, seizure, liver damage, lung damage, and death.
If you believe your pet has ingested any poison or toxin, have the label or packaging available and contact an emergency veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline immediately. Never give home remedies like milk or food without consulting a veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline specialist first. Likewise, never induce vomiting in your dog or cat without consultation, as it can be more dangerous to your pet and you.
Looking at the patient census at Northern Veterinary Clinic, the number of feline patients is far less than the that of canines, 25% vs 73%. This is a common theme throughout the veterinary industry. Veterinary visits are on the decline overall, but more so in cats than dogs. Why is it that cats receive less veterinary care than dogs? Here are a few explanations.
Our feline friends are extremely talented in hiding symptoms of disease. Out of instinct they hide any sign of weakness that a predator would take advantage of. This can make it more difficult for owners to realize there is a problem until it is more severe. Keep a close eye on your cat’s normal habits; eating, drinking, urination, defecation, grooming, etc.
Veterinary staff are trained to ask specific questions and do comprehensive exams to identify diseases in the early stages. Catching conditions early increases the effectiveness of treatment, likely decreases cost, improves overall quality of life, and can even save their life.
Stress & Avoidance
Cats are creatures of habit; eating, playing, napping at the same time and the same spot every day. Taking them out of that routine can be stressful for them and the client. They are used to roaming their familiar territory, then all the sudden put in a small box and taken to the unfamiliar environment of the veterinary clinic. If they only see the carrier when they go to the vet, they will negatively associate it with this event. The next time it comes out they will magically disappear. A cancelled appointment due to a missing cat is an all-too-common occurrence.
To avoid this, bring the carrier out more frequently on non-appointment days or keep the carrier in a familiar area for the cat. Allow them to go in and out at their leisure. Hide treats in it for them to find. There are also calming pheromone products that you can spray or wipe on the inside of the carrier. All this will make the carrier a have more positive meaning.
Education & Economics
This is not true for everyone, but there is a group of people who feel that cats are just not worth taking good care of. That was the mentality they were brought up with. Unfortunately, we see this frequently. We do not judge these clients; we simply attempt to offer options that are economical and acceptable for all situations with the pet and client’s best interest in mind.
With the improvement of vaccines over the years immunity to disease lasts more than a year. For adult cats that have had previous vaccines, the Rabies and Feline Distemper vaccines now only need to be re-vaccinated every 3 years. Clients often do not bring their cats in for annual exams if they are not due for vaccines. A veterinary visit is more than just vaccines; it is a great time to ask questions, compare notes from previous exams, and get a comprehensive head to toe exam.
It is a common misconception that indoor cats do not need vaccines. It is true that their likelihood of catching communicable diseases is much less than outdoor cats, but it is not impossible. How often do you see “lost cat” notifications where the cat slipped out a door? Do bats, a common carrier of rabies, get into houses? Absolutely. Kidney or liver disease, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, and arthritis are just a few common illnesses that cats may develop regardless of their lifestyles.
Caring for your feline family members is particularly important to us. From preventive care to treating conditions and diseases, we are here to help. Give us a call at 444-5797 to schedule an appointment for your cat.