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Easter lilies pose threat to small pets

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Easter lilies are beautiful but they can be deadly to pets. All parts of the plant are poisonous – leaves, petals, stem and even the pollen! Rabbits (and cats and rodents) which chew on the plant - or even just ingest some pollen while grooming - are at risk of kidney failure and death. Symptoms typically manifest within 6-12 hours of consumption, and may include vomiting (in cats) lethargy, drooling, decreased water intake and decreased urination, and loss of appetite in cats, rabbits and other small pets. Worsening symptoms include disorientation, jerky or awkward movements of the head, gait difficulty and seizures may occur.

Treatment within 18 hours of exposure increases the chances of recovery significantly. If you suspect a lily is to blame, call your vet or nearest pet emergency hospital for immediate treatment. Chances of survival are low to nil without immediate treatment, as there is no effective antidote. Treatment includes administering drugs to bind the poison, fluids to flush the kidneys, and close monitoring of the patient. Pets not treated immediately have poor chances of recovery.

There are certainly many other varieties of lilies which are toxic to pets, including those commonly referred to as Tiger lilies, Day lilies and Asiatic lilies. These flowers are commonly found both in gardens and in florist bouquets, so make sure to check any bouquets for poisonous flowers before bringing them into the household. It’s best to avoid these lilies entirely if you have small pets but if you do bring them in the house, keep them well out of reach of your pets and be sure to immediately pick up any petals/pollen that fall from the flowers. It’s better to keep the flowers safely in a room that is off-limits to your pets. While placing cut lilies out of reach will protect the indoor pets, lilies in the yard are still a risk for pets allowed to wander the neighborhood.

If you think your pet has ingested lilies or other toxic plants:

  • Stay calm and remove your pet from the plants. If pollen from the lilies is on your rabbit’s fur, remove it with a damp cloth and wipe the area with a baby wipe or lightly soaped cloth.
  • Call your veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic immediately. Tell them what has been ingested and when. Follow the veterinarian’s advice.
  • If advised to bring the rabbit to the vet clinic or emergency clinic, do so.

In the Dayton area, there is no 24-hour emergency clinic for rabbits. After hours, your best bet is to immediately contact MedVet in Hilliard (this side of Columbus). They are open 24/7 and have exotics veterinarians on staff and available to answer your questions and treat your rabbit or other small pet.

For dogs and cats in Dayton, there are two emergency options:

MedVet (was the Dayton Emergency Veterinary Clinic) at 2714 Springboro Pike West (937) 293-2714 or 1-800-289-1165 or

Care Center (was the Dayton Care Center for Animal Emergency & Critical Care) at 6405 Clyo Rd, Centerville, 937-428-0911

Never ‘wait and see’ what will happen to your pet. If your pet has ingested any part of a lily or other poisonous plant, you must immediately seek professional veterinary help.

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