It’s common to find exotic houseplants in nearly every home. With good reason, of course, these houseplants improve indoor air quality, add life and even brighten your living space. But here is the deal, if you are a pet owner, you should be extra careful when choosing which houseplants to grow in your home.
Here are a few toxic houseplants to keep away from both your dogs and cats:
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Even though Aloe Vera is great for humans and is famous for its wide range of medicinal uses, to dogs and cats, it is surprisingly toxic. It’s mostly used for soothing skin purposes but poses a high risk for your pets if they munch on the leaves.
The gel inside is relatively harmless with the toxic parts limited to the skin and inner layers. The poisonous substance in Aloe Vera is the Aloin. It’s a bitter yellow substance that can cause diarrhea, vomiting, reddish urine, and at times tremors if ingested by your pet.
Lilies are popular for decorating during the holidays and gift-giving. Although they do make a brilliant centerpiece, most of the lily family are toxic to cats, and a number are toxic to dogs. They can cause lethargy, vomiting and worst-case scenario severe kidney failure in cats if ingested.
The peace lily and calla lily are toxic to both dogs and cats. If ingested, they can cause increased salivation, vomiting, irritation of the lips and tongue as well as difficulty in swallowing. The toxic substance of lilies is yet to get uncovered, but they are highly poisonous such that even pollen from them is toxic. Though not all species of lilies are toxic, it’s safe to avoid them altogether if you own pets.
Poinsettia is popular around Christmas time, and most people love to adorn their dining tables with them. They also make up for a great Christmas gift. They are beautiful plants and appear attractive to pets.
The toxic substance in poinsettia is the sap which is an irritant, and if you get exposed to it, your skin becomes irritated and turns red. When ingested, it results in vomiting and nausea. Not to say that you write them off, no! Just be sure to have a safe location for them to avoid health complications during the holiday season for both your family and pets.
English ivy, also known as sweetheart ivy or California, is yet another house plant that is toxic to both the dogs and cats if ingested. They do look pretty when falling from a bookshelf and make an elegant display due to their small pointed leaves. But do not be fooled, once ingested by your pets, things won’t be so pretty.
The toxic substance in English ivy is triterpenoid saponin. Once ingested, some of the symptoms include weakness, diarrhea, vomiting, excessive salivation, rash and ataxia. Not to worry though, you can keep the loose tangle formed from the beautiful vines away from your pets in an unreachable area to avoid ingestion.
Cyclamen is also known as sowbread and is a pretty plant that has dark leaves which produce flowers that are bright and range from red to white. They are popular with homeowners due to their beautiful flowers. Sadly, they are toxic to both the dogs and the cats.
Once your pets have ingested this plant, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea and increased salivation. If they happen to ingest the plant tubers in large amounts, it can cause seizures, heart abnormalities and in other instances death.
The Sago Palm also referred to as cardboard or coontie palm is a highly popular indoor decorative plant. It’s one of those striking plants that does wonders to indoor air quality. But its attractive attributes come at a cost, every single part of the plant from the leaves and the seeds all the way to the roots is highly toxic to dogs and cats when ingested. The most poisonous is the seeds.
The toxic substance found in Sago Palm is cycasin. Signs of intoxication when ingested by dogs and cats include bloody diarrhea, vomiting, symptoms of liver failure to death. It is therefore critical for a pet owner to avoid this type of plant altogether.
Dieffenbachia is also known as exotica, dumb cane, or tropical snow, and is yet another favorite houseplant loved for its broad, colorful leaves. It is easy to grow hence preferred by many house plant growers. All of its parts are poisonous, i.e., the stalk, leaves, and roots.
The toxic substance in dieffenbachia is oxalic acid which can cause oral irritation, especially on the tongue and lips. This irritation can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, increased salivation and in other cases difficulty in swallowing when ingested by the pets.
As a pet owner, you need to be extra careful and do thorough research before bringing houseplants into your home. Many of these plants can be extremely dangerous to your pets. Although this can be remedied by carefully putting these poisonous plants up out of reach, it’s better to avoid them and find plants that are safe to keep at home. Not to worry, you will still have plenty of options that are 100% non-toxic.
Also, familiarize yourself with what to do in the event of ingestion. If it happens your pet ingests a poisonous plant, quickly wipe their mouth with a wet, cold cloth then contact your vet.
Do you have experience with your pets ingesting some of the toxic plants? What did you do and what other safety precautions should one take? Share your experiences with us to benefit other dog and cat owners out there.
About the writer
Rachel Burns is an animal lover and journalist based in Dallas. Writing about animals is the job of her dreams. When she’s not writing or spending time with her beloved dog, Charles, she enjoys road cycling.