7 Common Houseplants That Can Be Toxic to Cats and Dogs

updated Apr 3, 2020
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We love the touch of life and greenery that plants add to our homes. But mixing house plants with pets can be lethal. Sometimes toxic plants are naturally repulsive to animals (they taste extremely bitter, for instance), and some pets aren’t inclined to chew plants, so we tend not to worry. However, every pet parent should know which plants are harmful to their animals so they can make the personal choice to simply never have them around, or to watch vigilantly to make sure their animals don’t start chewing them.

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Keep in mind that you should be especially watchful when you bring a new plant or new cut flowers into your home (including when plants are gifted to you). Also, don’t forget to be aware of the plants in your outdoor areas. Lastly, if you pet-sit friends’ animals in your home, find out if they are plant-chewers and keep a close eye on them as well.

If you suspect your pet has been poisoned by a household plant, call the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at (888) 426-4435 (you may incur a consultation fee) or your local vet right away.

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Aloe: This common burn salve is a popular kitchen plant that’s beneficial to humans. But it can cause vomiting, depression, diarrhea, anorexia, and tremors in both dogs and cats.

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Lilies: Lilies are popular in bouquets and may make frequent appearances in your home. Easter and Stargazer lilies are among those highly toxic to cats but calla lilies and peace lilies (like the potted one above) can cause reactions in both cats and dogs. Read more about cats and lilies here.

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Dracaena: Dracaena plants are easy to grow and can thrive even in low-light conditions, making them quite popular. However, they are toxic to both cats and dogs. According to Vet Street, saponin is the offensive chemical compound in this plant. When ingested, vomiting (with or without blood), appetite loss, depression, and/or increased salivation can occur. Cats who’ve eaten dracaena can also exhibit dilated pupils.

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Pothos: Among the most popular and ubiquitous house plants, these super easy plants do well most anywhere. Also called “devil’s ivy,” pothos contains raphides, needle-shaped crystals that can lead to: 1) burning and irritation of the lips, tongue, and mouth; 2) excessive drooling; 3) difficulty swallowing; and 4) vomiting.

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English Ivy: This fast-growing climber is relatively easy to care for, and looks great either hanging or dangling its vines from a sill. But it’s quite toxic to both dogs and cats. Symptoms can range from mild breathing difficulty and a rash, to serious effects like paralysis and coma.

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Jade: This decorative plant can can cause vomiting and a slow heart rate in dogs and cats. Another toxic and harder-to-spot effect of munching on jade is depression.

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Philodendron: There are many types of philodendrons and they are popular, low-maintenance house plants. They are also toxic to cats and dogs, with symptoms of ingestion including oral irritation, intense burning and irritation of mouth, tongue and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing according to Pet Helpful.

For an extensive list of plants that are toxic to cats and dogs, check out this directory for cats and this one for dogs. Find printable toxic and non-toxic plant lists for cats and dogs here.

Non-Toxic Plants

Want a list of plants you don’t have to worry about?

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