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Top 5 Toxic House Plants for Pets

By Colleen Williams
July 24, 2018 • 3 min. read
poisonous plants for cats and dogs

Astonishingly, there are about 700 plants considered toxic to household pets! You can find a great rundown by the AKC in their Poisonous Plant Guide which include both indoor and outdoor plants. Additionally, the Pet Poison Helpline has every poisonous substance categorized and searchable on their site, from plants to foods to chemicals. For what’s toxic in your yard, check out the Healthy Paws guide to your garden and home.

5 toxic house plants infographic

A quick scroll through your social media feeds will probably reveal that houseplants are having a major moment right now. We think that’s a great thing, as science points to plants improving our quality of life from generally mood boosts to improved air inside our homes. That said, pet parents must still practice caution regarding which plants they introduce to their indoor spaces since some plants— even very popular ones—can be toxic to pets.

“Before adding plants to your house, it’s important to do extensive research to make sure that each plant doesn’t pose any threat. Then, once you bring plants home, make sure to keep them inaccessible or out of reach even if they are non-toxic,” advises Lauren McDevitt, the co-founder of Good Dog, which helps connect people with reputable shelters, rescue centers, and breeders as they seek a new fur companion. “Also, remember to practice prevention through supervision and regular obedience.”

Common Plants to Avoid if You Own Pets

The below list isn’t nearly exhaustive, but it does consist of the most common indoor plants that fur parents ought to steer clear of:

  • Aloe: This common plant is known for its healing abilities, but it contains an active ingredient called saponin that can irritate your pet’s digestive tract leading to diarrhea, lethargy, tremors, and dehydration, says McDevitt.
  • English Ivy: This plant also contains saponin. It tends to be more common outside but is sometimes sold as an indoor plant.
  • Lilies: Lilies are popular because of their broad leaves and impressive blossoms, but pet owners (especially cat parents) should keep all lily varieties out of their home because they are highly toxic to cats. Even in small amounts they can cause kidney damage.
  • Philodendron: This beautiful, leafy green houseplant is popular because it’s easy to care for and offers lush foliage, but it contains a toxic chemical that can cause swelling and irritation of the tongue, mouth, and digestive tract, McDevitt says. In small amounts it can cause vomiting and difficulty swallowing, and in large amounts it can be fatal.
  • Sago Palm: The ornamental Sago Palm adds drama to any home, but it’s highly toxic to pets. Not only that, but dogs tend to be drawn to them since they taste good, notes McDevitt. Consumption can lead to liver failure and death.
  • Poinsettia: This seasonal plant is synonymous with the holidays, and it’s a popular gift to hosts. Pet parents must politely decline any offering of poinsettia since this plant since it causes irritation to the mouth and stomach when ingested.
  • Snake Plant: This very popular plant is also toxic to cats and dogs and can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea if consumed.

22 Pet-Approved Indoor Plants

Again, this list isn’t exhaustive, but we’ve compiled an array of pet-approved indoor plants. As McDevitt mentioned, it’s still wise to keep any plants out of your cat or dog’s reach.

  • African Violet
  • Air Plants
  • Areca Palm
  • Asparagus Fern
  • Bamboo Palm
  • Banana plant
  • Basil
  • Bromeliad (a nice alternative to poinsettia)
  • Calathea
  • Calathea rattlesnake (a nice alternative to snake plants)
  • Cast iron plant (also a nice alternative to snake plants)
  • Christmas Cactus (also a nice alternative to poinsettia)
  • Friendship Plant
  • Money Tree
  • Mosaic Plant
  • Orchid
  • Sage
  • Spider plant
  • Parlor Palms
  • Polka Dot Plant
  • Prayer plant
  • Swedish ivy (a nice alternative to English ivy)

When in doubt (and even if you’re mostly confident) we highly recommend heavily researching any plant that you plan to bring home. The ASPCA has an alphabetized toxic and non-toxic plant list you can refer to, as well. If you suspect your pet has consumed a toxic plant, contact your local veterinarian or ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435 as soon as possible.

colleen williams
By Colleen Williams

Over the past decade, Colleen has written about health, wellness, beauty, and even pets for The New York Times, The Cut, Refinery29, xoVain, Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, and Seattle Met Magazine, as well as many beauty brands. She has a BFA in Art History from the University of New Mexico and an AAS in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design in New York.

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