Are Irises & Daylilies Poisonous to Cats & Dogs?

With their spectacular and colorful blooms, irises and daylilies brighten even the most lackluster perennial bed or table top. But before you rush to incorporate these popular flowers into your home or garden, take note that while beautiful to you, both are toxic plants that can pose hazards to our canine and feline companions.

Iris Species

The large, eye-catching flowers and spear-like leaves of the iris provide an interesting multi-season dimension to any garden bed. Unfortunately, irises -- as well as the gladiolus species, another member of the iris family -- are toxic to all animals, including dogs, cats and even cattle. Scientists have isolated a number of toxic compounds, most notably irisin, terpenoids and quinines. These toxic compounds occur in highest concentrations in the rhizome, or rootstock, and bulbs, but are found in the leaves as well.

Symptoms and Treatment of Iris Toxicosis

Consumption of irisin -- thought to be the primary toxic agent -- and pentacyclic terpenoids cause excessive drooling and salivation, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, decreased appetite, ulcers and bleeding of the stomach and small intestine. The severity of these symptoms depends on the amount, and part, of the plant that is consumed. Pets that have ingested iris should be made to regurgitate and treated with activated charcoal to reduce absorption of these toxins. If needed, medicines may be used to reduce nausea and vomiting and treat ulcers. Thankfully, iris toxicity is generally considered mild to moderate, and short-lived.

Daylily Species

Daylilies and cats should not coexist.

Not true lilies at all, daylilies are members of the genus Hemerocallis, a Greek term meaning "day beauty." But admire these beauties from afar if you share your home with cats, as just a few bites of the leaves may lead to life-threatening kidney disease and liver failure. The toxic agent has yet to be identified, but all parts of the plant, including leaves and flowers, have been shown to be toxic to cats' kidneys. While not toxic to dogs, daylilies can cause an unpleasant, upset stomach if your pooch gorges himself. The Lily of the Valley, calla lily and Easter lily are all other lily variants that pet owners should steer clear of when landscaping or choosing houseplants. All contain certain calcium oxalates that are toxic to cats and dogs and even small children in larger quantities.

Symptoms and Treatment of Lily Toxicosis

Symptoms of drooling and vomiting often occur within two to 12 hours of a cat having ingested daylilies. Depression, lethargy, loss of appetite, tremors and seizures may also occur. Without immediate treatment, acute kidney failure will develop within one to four days. Fifty percent or more of these cats will not survive without dialysis or kidney transplant. If treated within six hours of ingestion, cats have a good chance of survival. Treatment consists of forced regurgitation and administration of activated charcoal, laxatives and enemas.

Other Common Poisonous Plants

Unfortunately, the list of plants that could lead to pet health problems and even death in severe cases is quite long. Here is a non-comprehenive list of common plants to be wary of when filling your garden or home: daffodils, azaleas, tulips, begonias, chrysanthemums, hyacinths, aloe plants, amaryllis, autumn crocus, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, poinsettias and the bark leaves and berries of a yew tree.

These plants can all caise a wide ariety of sympotoms in your pet, including: increased heart rate, skin irritation, gastrointestinal problems, difficulty breathing and cardiac arrhythmia. If you suspect that your pet is acting strange and is prone to chewing on plants, you may want to contact a hotline or visit your vet as soon as possible.


If you suspect your pet has consumed a potentially toxic substance, immediately contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. A $65 charge for the consultation at this pet poison helpline may apply. If your pet is in distress, proceed directly to your pet's veterinarian or an emergency veterinary clinic. Always consult an experienced veterinarian regarding the health and treatment of your pet.

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