The Peace Lily, or Spathiphyllum wallisii, is a common indoor flowering plant in the Araceae family. If is often grown indoors or in heavily shaded areas due to its ability to thrive in low light conditions.
Given it has a similar common name to the Lily, many cat owners are concerned about having this plant grow in or around their house. Indeed, Liles in the Lilium and Hemerocallis genus are extremely toxic to cats.
There have been case reports of cats grooming their coat after simply brushing past Lilium or Hemerocallis flowers and subsequently developing life-threatening poisoning with kidney failure.
So are Peace Lilies safe for cats and should you keep a Peace Lily in your home if you own a cat?
Fortunately, the Peace Lily does not carry the same level of risk as Lilium or Hermocallis variants, but it is certainly not without harm when a cat or dog eats rat poison all parts of the Peace Lily contain microscopic needle-like crystals known as insoluble oxalates. When these structures come in contact with the mouth and tongue, they cause an immediate burning sensation. This can result in drooling, excessive licking, pawing at the mouth, vomiting, difficulty or pain on swallowing and vomiting.
In most cases, these symptoms will settle rapidly with a cool demulcent such as yoghurt or lactose-free milk. Rarely, affected tissues can become swollen which in severe cases can lead to swelling of the upper airway and problems breathing. Insoluble oxalates will not damage a cat’s kidneys, which is the main concern with Lilium exposures.
So are Peace Lilies safe for cats? They certainly are of less concern than Liles of the Lilium and Hemerocallis genus, however, if your cat is likely to bite into attractive flowers or leaves then we would advise NOT to keep this plant in your house. If your cat has chewed or eaten any part of a Peace Lily, you can call the Australian Animal Poisons Centre on 1300-TOX-PET (1300 869 738) for first-aid advice and a risk assessment.
Snake Bit Safety and Prevention for your Pet
All snake bites or suspected snake bites in Australia should be treated as life-threatening. It is vital that you keep your pet calm and as still as possible. Try to limit any movement (including walking) as much as possible, and transport them to your nearest veterinary practice immediately.
If you are not close to a veterinary clinic and the bite was witnessed to have occurred on a limb, apply a pressure immobilisation bandage to that limb before transporting the animal to a veterinarian. The bandage should cover the entire limb, from the paw to the base of the limb.
The pressure bandage should not be applied too tight as to restrict blood flow, but at a similar tightness to what would be applied for a sprained ankle. There is no role for a pressure immobilisation bandage for bites that are not on a limb.
The sooner your pet is treated, the better their chances of survival. Symptoms of snake bites include:
– Sudden weakness followed by collapse
– Laboured breathing
– Paralysis, starting with the hind legs
– Loss of bladder and bowel control
– Shaking or twitching of the muscles
– Blood in the urine
DO NOT try to catch or kill the snake for ID or for any other purpose
DO NOT apply a tourniquet
DO NOT wash the bite site
DO NOT cut, suck or apply any other treatments to the bite-site
If you see a snake on your property, keep a safe distance and contact your local snake catcher
Venomous Snakes and Pets
Australia is full of venomous creatures that can bite or sting your pet. Many bites or stings will result in local symptoms only such as bite/sting-site pain, itching and redness. Some bites and stings, however, can potentially be life-threatening.
Snakes – Australia has the most venomous snakes in the world, all bites or suspected snake bites should be treated as potentially life-threatening. Try to keep your pet calm and limit movement as much as possible.
If you are some distance from your nearest vet and the bite was witnessed to occur on a limb, apply a pressure immobilization bandage from the paw up to the base of the limb. Your pet should be kept still as venom travels through the lymphatic system and movement can encourage more venom to enter the bloodstream. Your pet should then be carried to a car and immediately transported to a veterinarian practice.
Spiders – All spider bites can be associated with local pain, redness and swelling. Spider bites can also become infected if they are not adequately cleaned. Where possible, try to wash the bite site with soap and water and apply a pet-friendly antiseptic to reduce the risks of this occurring.
If there are signs of infection over the coming days, you will need to have your pet assessed by a veterinarian. There are two spiders in Australia that can result in systemic envenoming, these are the Redback and the Funnelweb spider.
Redback spiders can cause severe regional and generalized pain, vomiting and elevations to the heart rate. Whilst they are not typically life-threatening, they can make your pet very sick for up to a few days.
Funnelweb spider bites are potentially rapidly lethal. Initial first-aid is similar to a snake bite and involves the application of a pressure bandage if the bite occurs on a limb and rapid transport to a vet.
Bees & Wasps – These flying insects can cause a painful sting, which is associated with local redness and swelling. As most of our pets are covered in a thick layer of hair, the mouth is actually the most common sting site. This often occurs when our pets are trying to eat them.
Bees only sting once, and typically leave a sting behind in the skin. Wasps may sting multiple times and do not leave a sting behind. Where possible, the sting site should be inspected closely and any sting left in the skin should be carefully removed without squeezing the ‘sac’ at the end.
Tweezers are an effective way to do this otherwise across the sting-site with a rigid flat item such as a credit card or similar will work. Troublesome local symptoms can be managed with an antihistamine. If your pet has been stung in or around the mouth or neck, they should be monitored closely as local swelling could result in difficulty breathing.
In some cases, bee and wasp stings can cause a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis. Any animal stung by a bee or wasp should be closely monitored over the first hour to detect any signs of severe allergy which may include difficulty breathing, becoming unsteady on their feet or collapse.
If your pet has had an unfortunate encounter with a dangerous Australian animal, please FREE call the Animal Poisons Centre for advice on 1300 TOX PET (1300 869 738).