Peace lilies are common houseplants whose deep green leaves and soft white blooms match any decor. They're easy to maintain and often thrive on neglect, making them ideal for people who lack a green thumb.
Unfortunately, it's usually best to choose between your pets and your peace lilies. The plants are toxic to animals and can make them quite ill. It's important to know how to deal with accidental poisoning and learn how to avoid this situation in the first place.
A stoic and simple white flower standing amid a garden of green leaves, the peace lily is a beloved display that requires little light and water. There are many variants of this common houseplant, but all take on a similar form.
Peace lilies are wonderful air purifiers that can help rid the home environment of common toxins like benzene and formaldehyde.
Lilies are one of the deadliest plants to cats, in whom they can cause organ failure, but the specific cause is unknown. In other animals, the reaction isn't nearly as severe.
Peace lilies aren't in the lily family; they only share the common name. This doesn't mean you're in the clear if your pet ingests this plant, though. It can still cause some pretty unpleasant symptoms.
Calcium oxalate is the primary offender in peace lilies. It's a microscopic crystal with incredibly sharp edges. This toxin doesn't cause a chemical reaction within the body. Rather, it's an irritant. Nevertheless, it can have some nasty effects. Though not typically deadly, in severe cases, it may cause death if not treated.
Calcium oxalate doesn't discriminate: it causes the same type of afflictions in humans, dogs, cats, and any creature that ingests its sharp crystals. The severity varies depending on the size of the person or animal, and the amount eaten.
A child who bites a leaf, for example, won't have nearly the adverse reaction of a puppy who eats half the plant.
Across the board, symptoms of peace lily poisoning are the same. Redness, irritation, and swelling are common. This can manifest in the lips, mouth, tongue, and throat. Also, GI tract and stomach issues may arise.
Drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and pain are the most common symptoms. Look for signs such as decreased appetite, a general display of discomfort, and pawing at the mouth. Airway constriction is rare but might occur if your pet eats a lot of the plant.
The problem with peace lilies is their taste. Many common plants contain calcium oxalate, like daffodils and devil's ivy. They usually have an uninviting flavor to deter would-be threats. Peace lilies, on the other hand, don't offer a bitter taste, so they're more likely to be consumed in greater volume.
The effects of poisoning usually show up within a few hours. For the average case, symptoms run their course in 12-48 hours. In extreme examples, they can last as long as two weeks, though this is rare.
All parts of the plant contain calcium oxalate, so even if your pet gets a bit of pollen on their paw and licks it off, they'll be affected. This is why it's important to monitor their behavior and call the vet if they're showing signs of illness or odd behavior.
For mild cases, a vet may not need to see the animal, opting instead to give you instructions and advice. Treatment at home will suffice in most instances. Washing your pet's paws with cool water to get rid of irritants will help. Also, make sure there is nothing lingering in the mouth. Then simply wait it out, offering comfort without being overbearing. Call your vet immediately if symptoms worsen.
If the vet wants to see your pet, try to save the eaten portion of the plant or at least take a picture of it to show how much was ingested. This will offer a better idea of the level of toxicity.
In more serious cases, a vet may rehydrate the animal with IV fluids. Short-term steroids and antihistamines are also viable options to ease common symptoms and reduce airway constriction in the event of any breathing difficulties.
If you don't want to give up the minimalist allure of a peace lily, you should keep it out of your pet's reach. As an added measure, sprinkling orange peels or coffee grounds on the soil will act as a deterrent since animals usually don't like these pungent scents—they're also great fertilizers!
There are many flowers that don't contain calcium oxalate or other toxins, but if you're searching for a houseplant that's comparable in appearance, you won't find too many alternatives.
Calla lilies and snake plants have related purification abilities and maintenance requirements, but they're also similar in toxicity. The song of India plant requires a bit more attention; it's non-toxic to humans, but could cause mild adverse reactions in pets.
There are plenty of non-flowering plants, like prayer plants, Peperomia, and most succulents, that are safe for pets. Orchids are a nice flowering option that's fine to have in a home with fur babies.