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Editor’s Note: If you suspect your pet has consumed a plant and you’re unsure about its toxicity or you notice any abnormal behavior, call a vet immediately.
Who doesn’t love the look of lush greenery? And what’s better than having that same feeling in your own house?
A modern trend in interior design is to incorporate some of the natural world into your domestic space, but if you’re a pet owner, you need to proceed with caution before fully embracing this look. Among the numerous household hazards for pets are several common plants that can be poisonous to them.
FYI: “Toxic” and “poisonous” are often used interchangeably, but they’re two different things. A poisonous substance is harmful when ingested or inhaled in sufficient quantities, while a toxic substance is a harmful chemical produced within a living organism.1 More simply, a toxic plant will poison your pet.
Before we get into the plants that pose potential hazards to your furry friends, let’s first talk about why they can be so dangerous. To do that, we have to understand a little pet psychology.
If you own a dog or cat and you’re also a household horticulturist, an overturned planter with paw prints tracked through the scattered potting soil is probably a familiar sight. But why?
Experts say dogs tend to eat grass to settle an upset stomach, which means in-reach houseplants are also on the menu. It’s a similar story for cats too. Despite being obligate carnivores — meaning they meet their nutritional requirements by eating meat — vegetation often helps cats with digestive issues (like hairballs) get things moving.2
That said, it’s difficult to say why our pets do anything. Your dog may drink out of the toilet if you leave the seat up, and your cat may zoom around the house yowling at 3 a.m. for no reason. Maybe that particular leaf looked tasty at the time, or they were just bored and wanted to munch something new.
Regardless of the reason, pets and particular plants shouldn’t share the same spaces.
FYI: Your house can be a dangerous place for your kids too. We recommend reading up on some of the common household dangers for children to make sure you’re not exposing them to any undue risk.
If one or more of your family members has four paws, avoid bringing these houseplants home.
These lovely, stout little palms are often sold in nurseries and grocery stores alike. You may think this popular plant will add a tropical vibe to your kitchen, but you should avoid it if you own a pet. The first signs of poisoning may include lethargy, drooling, and diarrhea, but if left unchecked, these symptoms can progress to liver failure and even death.3
Lilies are popular plants, particularly around Easter, but make sure one never crosses your threshold if you have a feline in the house. That means all varieties of lily. Peace lilies, Easter lilies, Stargazer lilies, Daylilies — they’re all extremely dangerous for your cat. Lily poisoning will cause vomiting, loss of appetite, and increased urination and dehydration, leading to kidney damage and eventual kidney failure if left untreated.
This plant is pretty in vogue thanks to its stunning broad leaves and simple care routine. If you have a dog or cat, though, it’s not a great choice for your home. If consumed, it will cause swelling, excessive drooling, and difficulty swallowing. Respiratory issues could also develop, which could have fatal consequences.4
Also known as a Dwarf rubber plant, this is an extremely popular succulent with fat, rounded leaves that dogs and cats love to chew on. If they do, though, they’re in for a bad time. Jade poisoning can cause vomiting, lethargy, incoordination, depression, and slowed heart rates.5
A popular choice for indoor plant enthusiasts due to its beautiful pink flowers, oleander makes a great centerpiece on a sunny dining room table. Just make sure your dog or cat doesn’t dine on it, since it’s extremely toxic. Drooling, diarrhea, and colic are common symptoms, but in severe cases oleander poisoning can prove fatal.
Now that you know some of the most dangerous plants to avoid, you may wonder how to prevent your pets from snacking on any of your plants, regardless of toxicity.
The most foolproof way to keep your pets from making a meal out of your Monstera is to keep them separated. Put the plants on out-of-reach shelves or mantles. If you still find Fluffy or Fido taking the occasional chomp out of the Calathea, you can spray your plants with diluted lemon juice or put a piece of orange rind in the pot. Cats and dogs both dislike the smell of citrus, and it may be enough to deter them. Cayenne pepper can also work.6
Pro Tip: Another way to make sure your pets aren’t getting into any household mischief — especially while you’re away — is to invest in a good indoor security camera. You may even pick one with two-way talk, so you can remotely tell them to leave your plants alone!
This list includes some of the most toxic common household plants for pets, but it’s by no means exhaustive. There are tons of plants that can have negative side effects if consumed by your pet.
Pro Tip: If you’re worried about covering a big vet bill, you may want to look into pet insurance. It’s a low-cost way to make sure you and your furry family members will always be financially protected.
If you suspect your pet has consumed a plant and you’re unsure of its toxicity or you notice any abnormal behavior, call a vet immediately. In these situations, timing is everything. The sooner you can get your pet medical care the better the outcome will be, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Science Learning Hub. (2023). Poisons and toxins.
Grady Veterinary Hospital. (2022, May 4). Why Do Cats Eat Plants?
Schmid, Renee et al. (2023). Sago Palm Poisoning. VCA Animal Hospitals.
Wardle, Nikki. (2017, Aug 29). Is Heartleaf Philodendron a Threat to Your Pet's Safety? Intermountain Pet Hospital.
ASPCA. (2023). Jade Plant.
Kramer, Jillian. (2019, May 1). How to Keep Your Pets from Destroying Your Plants. Martha Stewart.