When pet owners hear the word “lily,” they may think of two things: beautiful and toxic.
As with many popular home and garden plants, lilies tend to be highly toxic to humans and pets.
But some plants are worth a second look because their names are misleading.
An example of this is the genus Canna (KAN-uh), which consists of approximately 19 different species.
Are Canna Lilies Poisonous to Dogs?
While the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) identifies several plants, such as amaryllis, autumn crocus, peace lily, calla lily, palm lily, and lily of the valley, are toxic to dogs, it does not include canna lilies.
According to ASPCA, canna lilies are safe for dogs and not poisonous.
Canna lilies aren’t poisonous to dogs but can still cause some problems when ingested.
They are also easily confused with a toxic lily bearing a similar name.
What Are Canna Lilies?
Canna lilies aren’t real lilies, but they’re the only ones in the Cannaceae family. Even though they’re sometimes called “bulbs,” cannas don’t actually grow from bulbs. Instead, they come up from an underground stem called a rhizome.
They’re more closely to ginger and bananas than lilies.
The roots of at least one species (Canna indica) make up a food starch used by traditional Meso-American cultures.
It has also been food for livestock.
Why Do Many People Believe Canna Lilies Are Toxic?
There’s an old 3-word mantra that explains the misconception surrounding canna lilies: beautiful but deadly.
As mentioned before, this saying applies to all true lilies.
But cannas are part of a small exception to a general botanical rule of thumb.
This rule teaches that the more beautiful a flower is, the more toxic the plant is likely to be.
A prime example of this is angel’s trumpets (both daturas and brugmansias).
Daturas earned a place in Indian culture as a poison that could drive your enemy insane if used in their drink.
And, even a tiny sip of tea made from brugmansias can cause horrific, violent hallucinations.
With such dangerous plants gracing gardens worldwide, it’s no surprise that the canna lily has a bad reputation.
Related: More on Canna lily plant care here.
Canna Lillies vs. Calla Lilies
There’s another reason canna lilies are often considered toxic. There is a similarity of name to another plant, Zantedeschia aethiopica.
Even though these two plants look nothing alike, the similarity of their common names is enough to cause confusion.
Calla lilies are toxic to cats and dogs due to the insoluble calcium oxalate crystals present.
Calcium oxalate is less toxic to adult humans but can still lead to various symptoms:
- mouth irritation
- kidney stones
The smaller the individual eating calla lilies, the deadlier those crystals become.
Canna lilies lack this toxic compound and will not harm your cat or dog if they take a nibble.
Warning: Even Safe Plants Can Cause Problems
Cats and dogs are carnivores, meaning their digestive tracts are too short to process plant parts such as seeds, leaves, and stem.
Cats and dogs nibble on grasses or other plants when they’re sick or simply curious.
It may not kill your dog to have a little taste of your canna lily, but there may be possible side effects when there is too much ingestion.,
Symptoms are generally mild but may involve:
- Upset stomach
Your dog isn’t in any real danger from these symptoms, as it’s just their body’s way of telling them they ate something they shouldn’t have.
That said, consider calling your vet if your canine companion isn’t feeling good and you find a chewed-on canna.
The veterinarian might recommend something to reduce the symptoms or have you come in for a routine check-up if your dog had a lot of canna for lunch.
Lastly, be wary of the plants you put in your garden. Sometimes, the most common plant, such as daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths, turn out to be the most toxic.
It is not hard to look up on the Internet if a plant is toxic to your pup or other pets. If you decide to keep the plant, though make sure it is inaccessible to your pets.