Are House plants Poisonous To Pets?
Having plants in your house not only makes the space look even more inviting; houseplants cleanse the air in the room and have many other benefits besides. Some house plants, however, have compounds that are poisonous to pets like cats and dogs.
If you decide to be both a cat and plant parent, you should do your due diligence to ensure that the houseplants you own do not interfere with the well-being of your cat.
In this article, you will find information on what houseplants are toxic to cats, what makes them toxic, and the effect they have on cats. We’ll also suggest houseplants that are less toxic to cats.
What houseplants are toxic to cats?
1. Peace lilies (spathiphyllum)
This plant has dark green lance-shaped leaves. Many people get it for their homes because of the unique white flowers that bloom now and then. Although they are referred to as flowers, the white part is a specialized leaf that protects the inner yellow spadix, which is the real flower.
Peace lilies contain compounds called calcium oxalates. It generates these oxalates as a mechanism to protect itself from being eaten by animals. These are what make the plant extremely toxic to cats.
If your cat chews on the leaves of a peace lily, the outcome could be fatal. Some of the effects of this are vomiting, irritation of the gastrointestinal tract, a hard time breathing and swallowing, and excessive drooling.
2. Jade plant (Crassula)
This plant is also referred to as the dollar plant or the money plant. Most people have this plant in their homes because it is believed to bring about good luck.
It has small oval-shaped leaves and a thick woody stem. The jade plant also has a long lifespan so it can be handed down to generations.
It is not known what component of the jade plant is toxic to cats. However, if you have a cat and a jade plant, here are some of the symptoms you will notice if your cat ingests the plant: vomiting and neurological signs like depression.
In place of the Jade plant, you can get the Haworthia retussa plant, which has similarly thick leaves but is not poisonous to cats.
3. Swiss cheese plant (Monstera deliciosa)
The swiss cheese plant is native to the forests in Southern Mexico and it is loved for the tropical feel it brings to a room. It is characterized by its large dark green leaves which have natural holes in them, hence the name.
These house plants, however, are highly poisonous to pets (cats especially) because it contains insoluble calcium oxalates. Although the poisoning is not fatal, it should still be taken seriously. Some of the symptoms your cat will experience are burning on their lips, vomiting, drooling, and swelling of the mouth and airways.
Instead of the Monstera, consider getting a plant such as the Areca Palm. It is also a large house plant, and although it lacks unique leaf holes, it will give off the same tropical vibe.
4. Aloe Vera
Many people keep this succulent in their house because of its medicinal value. It has immense benefits for the human skin and internal organs. However, Aloe plants are highly poisonous to pets, dogs, and cats alike.
The aloe plant is identified by its succulent stems and thorny leaves. It also requires minimal care and watering, making it perfect for travelers and those with tight schedules.
Aloe Vera contains glycosides, anthracene, and anthraquinones. These are generally referred to as saponins and they are found in the white latex component of the plant.
Saponins cause irritation of the cat’s gastrointestinal tract which manifests as cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.
If you want to use any aloe products on your cat, ensure that the product is latex-free since it is what makes these houseplants toxic to cats.
5. Cycas revoluta (Sago Palms)
This is an easy-to-maintain houseplant that is suitable for beginners and seasoned plant-growers because of its slow growth rate. Its name suggests that it is a palm, and seeing its fibrous bark, one might believe this is so. However, it belongs to the cycad family of plants.
This plant contains a chemical called cycasin which makes it highly poisonous to pets, especially cats. The chemical makes the whole plant poisonous but the seeds and nuts are the most poisonous parts. And these are the parts that the plant your cat is most likely to ingest since they are small and can easily fall to the ground.
Once your cat ingests any part of the sago palm, it’ll start showing signs like drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and inappetence (refusing to eat). These are visible minutes after ingestion. Within days, the chemical will cause liver damage, or worse, failure, which may be irreversible or even fatal.
6. Epipremnum aureum (Pothos)
This low-maintenance houseplant could be poisonous to your pets, especially cats. It is loved by amateur and experienced plant enthusiasts because it’s easy to care for, and it also makes an attractive drape.
This plant looks harmless but when ingested, it could cause serious reactions in your kitty. The toxic properties of this plant are the insoluble calcium oxalates which when chewed and ingested, your cat will cause serious burns to your cat’s lips and oral cavity. Other signs include vomiting.
7. Sansevieria trifasciata (Snake Plant or Mother-in-law’s Tongue)
Snake plants are loved by most plant enthusiasts because it’s easy to care for, it loves the dark, and it cleanses the air. But this interesting house plant is poisonous to your pets (cats or dogs).
It contains saponins, which when ingested will cause your pet to vomit and have diarrhea.
8. Hedera helix (English ivy)
Its delicate pointy leaves and drapery make for an attractive site. But not to humans only. If your pets accidentally ingest this houseplant, they might experience symptoms like ataxia, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and swollen, burnt-looking lips.
All these signs are characteristic of Triterpenoid saponin poisoning, the toxic agent found in the plant.
9. Dieffenbachia (Dumb canes)
Dieffenbachias are loved because of the tropical feel they bring to any room. It is also a low-maintenance houseplant. They come in different varieties with some even growing to ten feet tall.
However, these plants can be highly poisonous to your pets when eaten. And their sap could also be a mild irritant if it touches your skin. Dieffenbachias contain proteolytic enzymes and insoluble calcium oxalates which will cause irritation of the cat’s oral mucosa. You’ll see this as drooling, and difficulty breathing.
What Plants Are Poisonous to Dogs?
Healthy dogs have a healthy appetite. They use their mouths and noses to experience the world around them. They have indiscriminate eating habits and this makes them prone to poisoning. Plant poisoning is, therefore, a common phenomenon observed in dogs in millions of clinics around the globe.
That’s why you should do everything to keep some of these poisonous substances away from them. Keep clear of these plants poisonous to pets because they will cause harm to your dogs and cost you unforeseen vet bills.
Houseplants toxic to dogs
1. Aloe Vera
This succulent is kept around by most people not only for its aesthetic but also for the medicinal benefits it packs to humans.
Aloe has toxins called anthraquinone glycosides which are poisonous to dogs when chewed. These are found on the latex component of the aloe vera. It makes the plant mildly toxic to dogs and when ingested, it causes the dog to vomit and have diarrhea.
Not all parts of the aloe are poisonous to dogs, however. Parts such as the juice and gel on the leaf can be used externally on your dog.
If you are looking for plants with a soft and spiny vibe, you can opt for the Haworthia plant instead.
2. Elephant Ear (Alocasia)
Like the name suggests, the plant has large leaves that are its key attraction. The plant contains insoluble calcium oxalate acids, which have crystals that can make their way to your dog’s system via their skin and mouth.
The ingestion directly affects the dog’s airways. The first symptoms you will notice are drooling, difficulty in breathing, vomiting, and foaming at the mouth. If the plant was in contact with your dog’s skin, you will see some skin inflammation, redness, and irritation, and tearing eyes.
As an alternative, try the Peperomia caperata, which also has a large heart-shaped leaf.
3. Corn Plant (Dracaena fragrans)
The corn plant has long, thin leaves which have a corn-yellow streak, hence the name. This makes them attractive and in addition to their small size, many owners opt to have them in their homes.
Despite their beauty, the corn plant contains toxins called steroidal saponins, which are believed to make the plant moderately poisonous to dogs. Your pet will only be affected if they consume the plant.
Some of the signs you will notice once the plant is ingested are anorexia, depression, drooling, diarrhea, and vomiting which may be accompanied by blood.
In the place of the corn plant, you may want to consider getting a money tree. It has the same small size and a low-level care requirement, all without toxicity.
4. Asparagus fern
This is a poisonous plant for pets, cats, and dogs alike. This plant is called a fern because of its long soft leaves that take a fern-like shape. They are not in the fern family and are considered to be closely related to the edible asparagus.
This plant blooms small white flowers in the spring and they, in turn, produce red berries. These contain a natural steroid called sapogenin. It is found all over the plant but is more concentrated in the berries.
When your dog eats these berries you will see a loss of appetite, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. They can also cause an allergic skin reaction if your dog is in contact. Some of the symptoms are redness, swelling, and blistering.
Instead of the Asparagus fern, you can get the Boston Fern which looks pretty similar but without the devastating effects.
5. Devil’s Ivy (Epipremnum aureum)
This plant is also called the Silk Pothos or the Satin Pothos. It is one of the most popular houseplants because of its versatile ability to beautify any space and its extremely low maintenance.
It has a vine stem and moderately sized leaves. Like many other toxic plants, it causes poisoning due to the insoluble calcium oxalates, glycosides, and saponins.
When ingested, your dog will start to whine and foam at the mouth. It will also experience a hard time breathing and irritation of the mouth and tongue.
What Do I Do if my dog (or cat) has been poisoned?
If you suspect that your dog has eaten or touched a poisonous houseplant here’s what to do:
- Take your dog far from the plant. Make sure you have the plant’s name if you know it. If not, take a picture of the plant to show to the vet.
- Check that your dog is breathing and acting normally.
- Call your vet or take the dog to the nearest animal clinic.
- Avoid giving any home treatments such as inducing vomiting if you have not spoken to the doctor as this might make things worse, especially if the poison is corrosive.
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