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Dangerous Holiday Plants for Pets

It is that time of year again! We have had the first snow fall, Christmas music is playing in all the retail stores, and all the garden centers have their poinsettias out on display. For that reason, I ask you, which plant do you believe is more toxic… lilies or poinsettias?

Much to people’s dismay, the lily is a lethal threat to the cat! Although the poinsettia can cause irritation in the mouth and a seriously upset stomach (leading to vomiting and diarrhea), the clinical signs to having ingested part of a poinsettia are relatively harmless.  Contrary to the poinsettia, even the smallest amount of a lily chewed on by a cat can be catastrophic.  Chewing or eating any part of the leaf, stem, flower or even pollen can cause complete kidney failure which leads to death. Scientists and veterinarians still cannot determine the specific reason behind why the plant is so toxic, and for this reason there is no specific antidote or cure. Treatment for a cat that has licked, chewed or eaten part of a lily plant requires hospitalization and supportive intravenous fluid (IV) therapy to help “flush” the kidneys of the toxin.  Even with treatment, there is no guarantee that a kitty survives the misadventure; however prognosis is better with getting started on IV fluids as fast as possible.

So this holiday season, may your days be merry and bright and worry free about your Christmas plants!

By: Dr. Meagan Melillo

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