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Guide to Pet-Safe House Plants

By on Mar 18, 2014
Guide to Pet-Safe House Plants

Most pets love exploring their territory and playing near plants, so it's important that pet owners are aware of the potential dangers posed by houseplants. There are many houseplants that pet owners enjoy without concern, but there are also many common houseplants that are toxic to pets. Responsible pet owners should familiarize themselves with the difference between safe and dangerous plants for the safety of their pets. Here are a few resources to help pet owners identify which plants are safe to include in a pet-friendly home:

Safe Plants

Houseplants are attractive decorative items that improve air quality. Having pets doesn't have to mean avoiding houseplants. Pet owners can take advantage of these benefits by sticking to the many popular houseplants that are non-toxic to pets. Pet-owners have their choice of plants of non-toxic common houseplants like Button Ferns, Blue Echeveria, and Golden Palms. Pet-owners seeking more exotic houseplants can also confidently decorate with Bamboo, Christmas Cactus, and certain types of Orchids. Other flowering plants like African violets and potted Mini-Roses are another lovely and non-toxic way to add color to a home. When choosing safe houseplants, always remember to research new houseplants before introducing them to your home in order to ensure they are non-toxic for your pet's species. While many plants are equally non-toxic to dogs and cats, some plants cause different reactions. It's also important to keep in mind that individual pet reactions may vary and even non-toxic houseplants can be dangerous when consumed in large quantities by pets. If you're uncertain about a plant even after research, take additional steps to safeguard your pet by putting the plant out of reach or treating the plant with a pet-deterrent spray.

  • Non-toxic Plants for Pets Database The ASPCA provides a definitive database of non-toxic plants for pets.
  • Non-toxic Plants This comprehensive list includes non-toxic plants that cause no systemic or gastrointestinal effects in animals.
  • Common Plants and Toxicity This document from UW Health provides in-depth information on the toxicity of common plants for people and animals, as well as advice on handling pets around plants.
  • Safety of Common Houseplants This list from the Tortoise Trust states the safety levels of a number of common household plants.
  • Non-toxic plants and Parrots The Long Island Parrot Society provides a list of common non-toxic houseplants and general advice on plant safety for pet birds.
  • Plant Guide (PDF) The Indiana Poison Center has a handout listing indoor and outdoor plants that are toxic to people and pets, categorized by toxicity and environment.
  • House Plant List Search for your houseplants in this searchable list from The University of Kansas Hospital to confirm their pet-safety level. Each plant's level of toxicity and potential toxicity to animals is indicated.
  • Edible Plants for Turtles This page lists ornamental plants that are edible versus poisonous for pet turtles and tortoises.
  • Pet Iguanas and Non-toxic Plants This guide helps iguana owners ensure that their houseplants are non-toxic.
  • Misconceptions about the toxicity of Poinsettias This article explains the common misconception that Poinsettias are harmful to pets.
  • Safe Plants for Pet Birds (PDF) The bird rescue provides advice on safe houseplants for birds and debunks certain myths about toxicity.
  • Poison Prevention (PDF) The "Spring Poisoning Hazards for Pets" article in this newsletter covers several popular houseplants that are safe for dogs and cats.
  • Directory of Non-Toxic Plants The Oklahoma State University Library provides a reference gallery of non-toxic plants.

Dangerous Plants

Many pet-owners are shocked upon learning how many common, and seemingly innocuous, houseplants are actually dangerous for pets. Consuming toxic plants can cause symptoms ranging from mild gastrointestinal distress to death. The actual level of danger will vary depending on the plant's toxicity and your pet's health and habits. Jade plants are well-liked for their attractive flowers and low maintenance care. Despite its longstanding reputation as an ideal houseplant, this succulent can cause vomiting, ataxia, and even depression in pets. Similarly, the ever-popular Aloe Vera plant is useful to homeowners, but causes vomiting, diarrhea, and a host of other dangerous symptoms in pets that have consumed it. While actual bamboo is pet-safe, lucky bamboo is actually highly toxic to cats. This popular housewarming gift can be purchased at garden shops, gift shops, and even drugstores and can be found in homes around the world. Lucky bamboo isn't related to non-toxic bamboo at all. It's actually a type of lily and all varieties of lilies are highly toxic to cats in both potted and cut form. Consuming any part of the lily can cause vomiting and sometimes fatal renal failure. Pet-owners must be particularly vigilant during the holiday season as mistletoe, holly, amaryllis bulbs, and even Christmas trees can cause gastrointestinal issues and other serious health problems in pets.

  • Potentially Poisonous Plants The Humane Society provides a list of plants that may be harmful to your pet's health and specifies which parts of the plant are toxic to them.
  • Dangers of Holiday Plants This advice article discusses the dangers of common holiday plants like mistletoe, holly, and lilies.
  • Pet Poisonings This comprehensive article from the American Animal Hospital Association discusses preventing pet poisonings and includes a detailed section on plants, vegetables, and flowers that are toxic to pets.
  • Pets and Poisonous Plants This informational column from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign's College of Veterinary Medicine discusses common plants that can physical harm to pets.
  • Poisonous Houseplants Affecting Dogs This page provides a partial list of common plants that are poisonous to dogs.
  • Plants Toxic to Dogs (PDF) The Washington Area Humane Society has a long list of plants that are toxic to dogs, providing both the scientific and commonly known plant names.
  • Pets and Toxic Plants UC David School of Veterinary Medicine lists and discusses the 12 plants most commonly responsible for animal poisonings.
  • Cats and Toxic HouseplantsThis article explains the natural habits of cats around houseplants and a provides a partial list of that are toxic to cats
  • The Toxic Easter Lily This brief and informative article covers the signs of Easter Lily poisoning in pets.
  • List of Toxic Plants (PDF) The Blue Mountain Humane Society provides an extensive list of plants that are toxic to pets, the most toxic parts of the plants, and colloquial names of these plants.
  • Toxic Plants by Category This page provides an outline of common, ornamental household plants that are toxic to pets.
  • Images of Poisonous Plants (PDF) This guide includes images for easy recognition of common plants that are poisonous to pets.
  • Pets and Poisonous Plants (PDF) This handout provides basic information on pet plant poisonings and a partial list of toxic plants and their poisonous parts.
  • Rabbits and Toxic Plants This extensive list covers plants that are toxic to pet rabbits in the home.
  • Potentially Hazardous Plants for Pets (PDF) This list notes a number of plants that may be poisonous to pets and the likely symptoms of poisoning.
  • Plants toxic to Rabbits (PDF) This guide on rabbit care lists many plants that are poisonous to rabbits.
  • Poisonous Plants (PDF) The Arizona Humane Society provides in-depth information on plants poisonous to pets.
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