Quite a few of the plants in our homes and gardens pose a risk to our furry friends. Lilies are a pup-ular choice of flower for bouquets, house plants, and gardens, but any cat owner is probably well-aware of the fact these plants are highly toxic for their felines. But are lilies poisonous to dogs too?
Yes, lilies are poisonous to dogs. Some species of lily are “non-toxic” but still cause illness if eaten. If your dog eats any part of a lily plant, they will probably show signs of gastrointestinal upset such as vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain. If your pooch has eaten a lily and they seem unwell, you must contact your vet for advice.
Most species of lily are harmful to dogs if eaten, whether they are poisonous or not. Some of the common species of lily that are harmful to dogs include:
Japanese show lily
Dogs are known to suffer from poisoning if they eat any “true lily”, which are plants from the genus “Lilium”. So if the plant has Lilium anywhere in their name, you need to keep it far away from your dog’s mouth.
These lilies are dangerous because they contain alkaloids that damage the red blood cells. In cats, eating these lilies can cause organ failure and death. Although it is less likely, your dog might suffer from damage to their organs too if they eat a significant amount.
Meanwhile, daylilies (“Hemerocallis”) are supposedly not toxic to dogs, but they still cause sickness if eaten. However, these plants are still highly toxic to cats just like true lilies. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so you should probably still keep these plants away from your pets.
Some species of lily don’t fit into either of these categories. Plants like the peace lily (Spathiphyllum) and the Calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) are less toxic, even to felines, but they still cause sickness.
Calla and Peace lilies pose their own problems because they release calcium oxalate crystals when chewed. These sharp crystals can cause burning, irritation, and inflammation to your pooch’s mouth and lips, as well as irritation to their skin if they come into contact with them. The irritation to your dog’s mouth might cause excessive drooling and loss of appetite as well as vomiting. It is rare, but there is the potential that the swelling in your dog’s mouth might affect their throat and impact their breathing.
Despite the name, Lily of the Valley is not actually a lily, it’s part of the asparagus family. However, this plant is toxic to dogs if eaten. If eaten in large amounts, they can alter your pup’s heartbeat and there is a risk it will be fatal.
All parts of the lily plant are toxic to both dogs and cats. That includes the pollen and stamens, the flower petals, sepals, leaves, stems, and bulbs.
The bulb is significantly more toxic than the rest of the plant. Although all parts of the lily are toxic, substances in the bulb are more concentrated making it more poisonous than the rest of the plant. Many flower bulbs are toxic to dogs, so if you are gardening it is im-paw-tent to keep them out of the reach of your pooch, and you will need to prevent your dog from digging them up by making sure they are out of their reach or securely fenced off.
Our spaniel kept digging up freshly planted bulbs even when they were in raised beds. Although she never tried to eat them, she would carry them around in her mouth and we knew it wasn’t safe. In the end, we fenced off the flower beds to stop her from being able to climb into them.
Similarly, if you have cut lilies as part of a bouquet, make sure the vase is out of reach of your pooch. You should regularly check the area around the vase too, and pick up any dropped petals or stems before your pooch does.
Even the water left behind in a vase that held lilies is highly toxic to cats and can make dogs unwell. Again, keep the vase out of reach, and if paw-sible, use a tall vase. That way if any curious pet tries to drink from it, they are unlikely to be able to reach the water inside. You should also dispose of the water promptly after your flowers reach the end of their bloom.
The smell of lilies is not necessarily toxic to dogs. Most things must be ingested or come into contact with their skin in order to cause toxicity symptoms.
However, lily pollen itself can cause illness. If there are pollen particles in the air, it might settle on your pup’s fur or snout where they can lick it off. Ingesting small amounts of pollen might not pose much risk to big dogs, but there is the paw-tential small and sensitive dogs might be unwell. Inhaling pollen might irritate their nose, but shouldn’t be a huge danger.
Cats are much more vulnerable to lilies and their pollen, however, so do be aware if you have other pets in your house.
If you have a cat, you might already know that lily poisoning is paw-tentially fatal in felines. In cats, eating just a small amount of the lily plant can cause serious illness and lead to renal failure or death. But can lilies kill dogs too?
Luckily for your pooch, cases of fatal lily poisoning are very rare. But, many lilies are still considered toxic for dogs and even eating non-toxic species can cause significant illness. As with many things, smaller dogs are at greater risk because it takes a much smaller amount of any toxin to affect them.
What happens if your dog eats lilies will depend on the size of your dog, how much they ate, and what kind of lily it was. If they have eaten part of a lily, it is likely that your dog will become listless and lethargic, they might also vomit and lose their appetite.
Regardless of the circumstances, you should monitor your dog for any symptoms of illness and behaviour that is out of sorts. If they show any signs of sickness or distress, you should contact your vet for advice.
If your dog has eaten a lily or any other plant that has made them sick, try to take a photo or a sample of the plant for the vet. If you can identify it and give the name and scientific name to your vet, this will help them to assess possible toxicity risks or refer to further specialist advice.
Symptoms of lily poisoning in dogs look a lot like any other toxicity symptoms. Signs of lily poisoning include:
Swollen and/or painful abdomen
Changes to urine colour
Redness in the eyes, gums, mouth, or tongue
Symptoms can develop as quickly as two hours after ingestion but may take longer. You should monitor your dog for symptoms for at least 24 hours.
Your pooch might not show all of these signs of poisoning because the severity of their reaction will depend on the type and amount of lily eaten. However, if your dog shows any of the common symptoms of poisoning such as excessive drooling, vomiting, or lack of appetite you should take them to the vet.
Your vet might induce vomiting to try and remove any remaining parts of the lily from your dog’s stomach. They might also administer activated charcoal, which binds with toxins and prevents them from being absorbed into the body. Gastric lavage (stomach pumping) might also be used to try and clean out your pup’s stomach. These methods are all to try and reduce the amount of toxins absorbed into their body.
Further treatment for lily poisoning is supportive. Your dog might need to have intravenous fluids administered to keep them hydrated, to try and flush the toxins out of their system, and reduce the risk of damage to their liver and kidneys. Your dog might also be given medication to prevent vomiting.
As well as lilies, there are a number of other common plants that are can be harmful to dogs including:
Cherry trees (the fruit is safe.)
This is by no means an exhaustive list and there are many plants that pose a risk for your pooch. We've created a list of poisonous plants for dogs and one for dog-friendly plants for you to refer to. If your dog eats any plant and shows signs of illness, you should contact your vet.