Which Lilies Are Toxic to Pets?

April 6, 2022


You’ve probably heard by now that lilies are something you should be wary of around your pets, particularly your feline friends. Lilies, including Asiatic lilies and daylilies, can be toxic to both dogs and cats, however the effects are much more severe in cats. Since these flowers are common around this time of year, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) wants to make sure you have all the facts and information you need to keep your pet safe.

Easter/Asiatic Lily (Lilium spp.)

Plants can have many common names, sometimes even over lapping with other plants, which can make it very confusing for pet owners. There are many plants that go by lily, but not all of them are bad for our feline friends. Lilium sp, are ones to keep your cats away from. They have several common names: Asiatic Lily, Easter Lily, Stargazer lily, Oriental lily. All of these should be avoided by pet parents. All parts of the plant are toxic and small amounts can cause severe injury to the kidneys. Drinking the water containing a lily or grooming pollen off their fur may cause problems as well.

Daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.)

Daylilies are also another lily to avoid. Like Lilium sp, Daylilies can cause severe kidney injury. These flowers are most commonly seen outside and are not commonly used in bouquets since, like their names imply, the cut flowers only last about a day. 

Peruvian Lily (Alstromeria spp.)

Peruvian lilies are native to South America but have become naturalized in some areas of the U.S. Peruvian lilies have a similar appearance to Lilium sp and are also commonly used in bouquets. While Peruvian lilies may cause some stomach upset (vomiting, diarrhea), they are not expected to cause life-threatening injury to any organs. 

Peace Lilies (Spathiphyllium spp.)

Peace lilies have large, green, waxy leaves and a very distinct flower shape that is typically white in color but may be green or yellow. They are commonly found as house plants. Peace lilies contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals that are released when the plant is chewed and can cause oral pain, drooling, vomiting or diarrhea. Very rarely swelling in the mouth may lead to difficulty breathing. While Peace lilies are toxic, it is very rare for them to cause serious or life-threatening problems. 

Lily of the Valley (Convallaria spp.)

Lily of the valley have a unique appearance compared to other lilies. They have small, pendent bell-shaped flowers that bloom in the spring. They are not commonly used in bouquets, nor are they common house plants. However, Lily of the valley are toxic and can cause serious poisonings. Lily of the valley contain cardiac glycosides that causes stomach upset (vomiting, diarrhea) and an irregular heartbeat.

How to Keep Your Pet Safe

Before bringing any lily into your home, make sure you know what type of lily it is. It’s best to avoid bringing in Lilium spp., Hemerocallis spp., or Convallaria spp. into your home, particularly if you have cats, due to concern for toxicity from these plants. Even if you have a feline friend who generally avoids plants, they may decide to show interest in a new plant. Also, trying to keep our feline friends away from these plants may prove harder than you think. Cats are very good at slipping into rooms that you try to keep them out of. As Lilium spp. flowers get old, they start dropping leaves and pollen–potentially adding access for your cat when the plant or bouquet was originally out of reach. 

What Should I Do If My Pet Ingests These Plants?

Catching exposures to all toxic lilies quickly is critical. If kidney injury is a concern, it can be prevented by aggressive treatment at a veterinary hospital. However, it is often fatal if treatment is delayed longer than 18 hours after ingestion. 

If you believe that your pet may have been exposed to or ingested something toxic please contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426- 4435 immediately.