Because animals are curious creatures and humans are creatures that celebrate beauty, striking a balance in the household can be difficult, especially when it comes to balancing dogs, cats and toxic household plants.
Toxic plants are a serious problem for the animal world. Just as you might unknowingly grab a red berry off a vine only to end up in the hospital hours later, your cats and dogs may sneak a nibble of your favorite leafy green only to end up—where else? The vet’s office.
So what can you do to protect your pets?
We’ve compiled a list of 13 common household plants (many are actually in the top ten most common household plants overall) that are potentially toxic to animals—so you can avoid bringing them home.
Of course, you always have the option to place the plants where animals can’t reach, but we all know cats are great climbers, and it’s always best to be safe. That said, look out for those plants that are lawn decorations or even forest staples, like oak trees—your dog won’t know the difference.
Dogs, Cats and Toxic Household Plants: A Brief List
Poinsettia: The flowers, leaves and stems are poisonous. We know this flower is beautiful, especially for holiday decoration, but the aesthetics may not be worth the sickness.
Elephant’s Ear (Colocasia): Totally poisonous—all of it.
Tulips: The bulbs are toxic. Ingestion may result in drooling, gastrointestinal discomfort, convulsions and central nervous system depression.
Azalea: The toxins in Azalea have the potential to cause severe physiological symptoms, including CNS weakening, vomiting or diarrhea, and potential coma or death.
Jade: Vomiting and depression are common clinical signs of Jade ingestion.
Rhododendron: OK, this one’s a shrub, and less likely to be indoors, but it’s so common we had to include it. The leaves are the culprits.
Philodendron: Poisonous in their entirety. The calcium oxalate crystals contained therein can cause oral irritation, including burning of the lips, tongue and mouth, difficulty swallowing and excessive drooling.
English Ivy: This pretty plant can cause abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. The leaves feature higher toxicity than do the berries.
Wisteria: Granted, wisteria will not usually be in your house. But if a friend picks you a purple-leaved beauty and leaves the vase on your kitchen table, be warned. Ingestion by pets can cause vomiting (with blood), depression and diarrhea.
Aloe: According to the ASPCA, ingestion of aloe can result in “Vomiting, depression, diarrhea, anorexia, tremors, and change in urine color.”
Peace lily: These pretty petals are not a dog’s best friend—or a cat’s. Ingestion can cause the same symptoms as Philodendron ingestion.
Pothos: Like peace lilies and philodendrons, this P plant can cause oral irritation and excessive drooling.
Dracaena: This spiky houseplant is both great for us to look at and bad for cats and dogs to eat. The ASPCA lists “vomiting (occasionally with blood), depression, anorexia, hypersalivation, and dilated pupils (cats) as symptoms.
These plants are not the only ones of which you should be aware. Check this list to find out if your dogs, cats and toxic household plants (or yard decorations) can live together peacefully. And if trouble occurs despite your best efforts, contact a veterinarian immediately, as well as the ASPCA so they can document the event.
Have you or your pets had a run-in with a poisonous plant? Tell us your story in a comment!