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Lily Toxicity in Cats

Lilies can be deadly to cats.Many people bring plants into their homes during the springtime. This can be an exciting time for curious cats, but also potentially dangerous.

Unlike most poisonous plants, which cause mild gastrointestinal signs in cats (decreased appetite, hypersalivating, vomiting, diarrhea), lilies are potentially deadly. Every part of the plant should be considered toxic, including the pollen, stem, leaf, flower, and water drained through the plant.

Not all lilies are toxic, but distinguishing various species by sight can be difficult, as many look similar. Poisonous lily species include but are not limited to: Easter, Tiger, Day, Star Gazer, Oriental, Wood, Red, and Asiatic Lilies.

Lilies are unique in that a very small amount, if ingested, can cause kidney failure. The first signs you may see are decreased appetite, lethargy, and vomiting. If you observe your cat eating or drinking from a pot containing lilies, bring it to a veterinarian immediately. Most cats will require hospitalization with intravenous fluids to help flush the toxins out of their system. The most important treatment for lily toxicity is aggressive therapy right away!

Before bringing a plant into your home, be sure to contact your veterinarian or consult the ASPCA's Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants website.

Chocolate Toxicity in Dogs

Every spring, the Easter Bunny delivers baskets full of chocolate into our homes. Unfortunately for our four-legged family members, chocolate can pose a serious threat to their health. The poisonous property is called theobromine and is found in varying concentrations depending on the type of chocolate. Milk chocolate is less toxic than semisweet chocolate, which is less toxic than dark chocolate.

Chocolate is toxic for dogs.For example, if Lola, a 20 lb French Bulldog gobbled up a 1.55 oz Hershey's Milk Chocolate Bar, she may not exhibit any ill effects. However, if she ate the same sized Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Bar, she would likely develop gastrointestinal signs (vomiting, diarrhea) and might benefit from a trip to the veterinarian.

Signs of chocolate toxicity include:

  • Increased drinking and urinating
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Hyperactivity
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Increased heart rate
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Death in severe cases

If you observe your dog eating chocolate, contact your veterinarian right away. Be sure to know the type of chocolate and the quantity ingested. If it happened recently, your veterinarian may want to induce vomiting. If very little chocolate was ingested, no therapy may be needed. In severe cases, your dog may need intensive therapy with intravenous fluids and heart monitoring. It can take up to four days for the effects of chocolate to work its way out of a dog's system. So guard those Easter treats!

Dr. Marc Siegel is an associate at Spring Harbor Animal Hospital in Madison, WI. His areas of special interest include soft-tissue surgery, internal medicine, ophthalmology, and animal behavior.