Animals can be playful, curious, and adventurous, especially when it comes to things they eat or put inside their mouths. As such, homeowners who have dogs, cats, and other pets need to be cautious about the plants they grow both in their gardens and indoors as these animals may have a fondness for nibbling on leaves. And since a lot of houseplants have turned out to be toxic to pets, you may end up in your vet’s emergency room if you are not careful enough.
In many houseplants, toxicity lies beneath their exterior. One houseplant might have toxic sap that oozes out when the stem breaks. Others carry toxins in their leaves, which can make a mere contact poisonous to cats and dogs. Others require cats and dogs to ingest plant material for the poisonous elements to affect your pet.
Skimming over the seemingly endless list of plants toxic to animals can leave pet owners feeling at a loss for what vegetation they can grow. Thankfully, there is a vast array of options for people looking to make their home and landscape as pet-friendly as possible.
- Air Plant
- Christmas Cactus
- Rattlesnake Plant
- Ponytail Palm
- Bird’s nest Fern
- Parlor Palm
- Spider Plant
- Areca Palm
- Boston ferns
- Moth Orchids
- Polka Dot Plant
- Prayer Plant
- Peacock Plant
- Button Fern
- African Violet
- Staghorn Fern
- Kimberly Queen Fern
- Fishbone Cactus
Identifiable by their spikelike, gray to green, scaly foliage, air plants (Tillandsia spp.) make an eye-catching addition to indoor and outdoor gardens. Epiphytic in nature, these low-maintenance bromeliads do not require soil, instead absorbing nutrients and moisture through their leaves. Their small root systems act as anchors, connecting the plants to a stable base such as a tree or board. Air plants are not toxic to dogs, cats, and other animals. However, it would be best if you kept your tillandsias out of their reach because these plants have sharp and pointed leaves, and they do pose a potential choking hazard. So while your pets may not die due to toxicity, they may still choke.
Christmas Cactus is very popular during winter holiday season. It is always seen as a gift for giving to family and friends. This cactus has long, segmented or jointed trails of fibrous leaves with billowy dropping flowers that can be beautiful bright red or pink in color. Unlike many of the holiday plants, Christmas cactus toxicity is not damaging. If your pet considers Christmas cactus to be a treat for the teeth instead of the eyes and chows down accordingly, you don’t need to panic. The ASPCA lists Christmas cacti as non-toxic for both dogs and cats―neither the cactus nor the flowers are poisonous to pets.
A Rattlesnake plant is a fairly tall, with leaves that can grow 30 inches tall or more. The leaves don’t just make this plant tall though, it also contributes to its beauty. They are beautifully marked with various shades of green, wavy edges that magnify those shades, and green spots that resemble small leaves. Even their undersides do not lack in magnificence, being a reddish-purple shade. The plants raise and lower their leaves from day to night, a phenomenon called nyctinasty. Rattlesnake is a pet-friendly plant. It does not poison any cat or dog species. But your cat can harm your plants by climbing them. It does not emit any harmful substances, hence pets are safe with this plant.
Ponytail palm are extremely common houseplants, with their cascading leaves and bulbous caudex. They make fantastic indoor décor as they’re slow-growers, low-maintenance, and can live for decades.They’re small, light-weight, and fun houseplants that can be kept on coffee tables or near a window for maximum sunlight. The ponytail palm is non-toxic to cats, dogs, and horses, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). There are no poisonous leaves, stems, or trunks on this plant.
Also Read: Indoor Plants That Grow Well In Terrariums
Birds Nest Ferns
Bird Nest Ferns have spear like shaped leaves rather than feather or palm like fronds. The leaves (have a brown mid-rib and wavy margin) grow up to about 2ft long from a rosette of fronds where new leaves appear when the plant is producing new growth. Birds Nest Ferns are also not toxic for dogs and cats. So if a pet wandering around the house will affect your decisions on which house plant to buy then this one could be the perfect one for you. Again just like for humans you don’t want your pets to be eating your house plants but if they take a nibble it shouldn’t be dangerous for them.
The parlor palm is an airy looking plant that brings a tropical feel to indoor spaces. It tolerates low light and colder conditions pretty well. It also doesn’t need a great amount of feeding or watering. The fronds on this palm grow and kind of droop or arch over from the stems once its matured, although it takes quite a bit of time for them to develop. Some will sprout yellow flowers after a few years of growth and produce seeds, however, the seeds are not likely to grow future plants. Palms can be iffy for pets, but the parlor palm is considered non-toxic.
The Spider plant is among the most adaptable houseplants, and is very easy to grow. A graceful plant that makes a statement anywhere—from a tabletop to a mantle, or with its lovely arching leaves as a hanging plant. The Spider Plant is also known for its tremendous air purifying qualities, making it a healthy addition to your home as well. Because this house plant is so popular, if spider plants are poisonous to dog is one of the most frequently asked questions about poisonous plants and dogs on the Internet. Well, according to the ASPCA, spider plants are non-toxic to dogs, cats, and humans. Yet, munching on your spider plant can still cause vomiting or other side effects in your dog.
Also Read: Beautiful Hanging Indoor Plants
Haworthia is a large genus of small succulent plants. They are generally lumped under the common name haworthia, though different species might carry other common names. These plants are delightful little succulents that make attractive small houseplants. These small, low-growing plants form rosettes of fleshy green leaves that are generously covered with white pearly warts or bands, giving them a distinctive appearance. While its shape and size are quite similar to aloe, which is toxic to cats and dogs, the Haworthia plant is perfectly pet-safe.
Areca palms grow in a clump of golden-yellow, smooth, ringed trunks that resemble bamboo. Arching feathery green fronds sporting a yellow midrib fill the canopy, which can grow 6 feet long. With its gracefully flowing golden-green fronds, the palm adds beauty wherever it’s used and is guaranteed to grab attention. Best of all, whether grown as a houseplant or as an addition to your outdoor landscape, the areca has basic or low maintenance needs. Fortunately the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals lists the areca palm as being nontoxic to dogs, as well as cats.
Ferns are quite an interesting group of plants to grow indoors because of the various types of fronds they display. The Boston Fern has graceful green, drooping fronds that are naturally cut in such a way to give a ruffled looking effect and therefore it looks really good in a hanging basket or in a place where the fronds can hang down over something, for example on the edge of a bookcase or shelf. Many of the fern species are harmful to our charming four-legged friends but the Boston fern is fortunately not one of them. ASPCA has listed it as one of the non-toxic houseplants for dogs and cats.
Peperomias, or radiator plants, are great beginner plants. And because peperomia foliage comes in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and textures—with over 1,000 species of peperomia, you’re sure to find one to fall in love with. Mostly all of the peperomias are considered easy care indoor plants. Peperomias are mildly toxic to dogs and cats when ingested. It probably won’t kill your canine companion, but it will probably cause discomfort and pain.
Also Read: Beautiful Indoor Fragrant Plants
Phalaenopsis orchids are known as moth orchids because of their charming, fluttering appearance. Moth orchids have thick olive leaves and flowers in hues of white and pink that bloom on stems 2 to 3 feet tall. Moth orchids have the capability to bloom a second time on a spike approximately three months after the flowers fade. A healthy specimen provides flowers for almost half a year with the proper care and the correct growing environment. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the phalaenopsis orchid is safe for pets. But, it’s also possible that your dog or cat will vomit or have diarrhea if he eats a piece of your orchid.
Bromeliads possess shiny strap-like leaves that surround the central cup, or tank, in a rosette. Most varieties of bromeliads grow bright-colored flowers in fluorescent shades of red, pink, orange and yellow. The blossoms last for months, sometimes close to a year, without fading. Bromeliad plants are ideal for homeowners who don’t want a plant that requires lots of care; they thrive with bright light and humidity. They are non-toxic to animals and can even be grown using soil-free methods, which is perfect for pet owners who want to avoid a cat or dog digging in the dirt.
Polka Dot Plants
The most common polka dot plants feature leaves with a pink base color and green spots. But there are several spotted or mottled varieties with purple, white, red, and deeper colors and brighter contrast, making it a unique option to add a little more color to a leafy green space. These plants are not especially difficult to grow, but because they are native to warm climates, many gardeners treat them as annuals and replace them with new plants each year. Polka dot plants are safe if a cat were to chew on its leaves but if they eat a large amount of the plant, some vomiting and/or diarrhea may result.
The prayer plant has wide, oval-shaped, dark green leaves with white or light green running down the spine of the leaf. The veins that run up the leaves can be several shades of red, as are the undersides of the leaves. Prayer plant gets it’s name for it’s unique habit of raising their leaves to an upright position at night time. The leaves fold together like hands during prayer. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The prayer plant is non-toxic to cats and dogs and that they are so easy to walk around that your cats and dogs will love them.
Echeverias are one of the most popular types of succulents and are frequently featured in succulent gardens, floral arrangements, terrariums, artwork, and even wedding cakes. Their stunning rosette shape, plump leaves, and large variety of colors give them a striking resemblance to flowers which makes them easy to decorate with. Their unique appearance and low maintenance needs have made Echeverias widely popular. Due to their popularity, there are many hybridized echeverias available. Most echeverias are totally safe and not poisonous to cats, dogs and pets.
The Peacock plant has all the elegance and beauty of a Peacock’s tail, which is why it has been given its rather glorious name. The leaves are pale green with a dark green feathered effect from the middle of the leaf to the outer edges. When new leaves grow they are rolled up and show off their pinkish-red undersides; giving it another splash of color. Peacock plant is not toxic to cats, dogs, or even your horses. Don’t even worry about your kids touching this plant as it is not poisonous at all.
When it comes to African violets, a deep purple blossom might come to mind at first, but there are many varieties that feature pink, blue, and even white blooms. Regardless of the hue, these gorgeous plants can put on a colorful show all year round. African violets are non-toxic to pets and humans and are completely safe to be kept in any part of the house. Though, they do have fuzzy leaves so it’s generally not a good idea to let children or pets munch on them.
Staghorn Ferns have two types of leaves. The “antler” frond and shield frond. The “antler” fronds are the large, bifurcated leaves that shoot out of the center of the plant, and from which staghorn ferns get their names, since they resemble the antlers of deer or moose. The shield fronds are the round, hard plate-like leaves that surround the base of the plant. Their function is to protect the plant roots, and take up water and nutrients. These fronds start out green, but eventually turn brown and dry up. The Staghorn Fern is a nontoxic pet safe houseplant you can have around your cats and dogs without worry.
Also Read: Different Types of Jade Plants
Hoyas are defined as semi-succulents, making them easy to care for and slow to wilt. They come in a ton of shapes and sizes all of which are safe to have around pets.They are extremely long-lived, have a classic, deep green, vining foliage and produce fragrant, light pink and red star-shaped flowers. Because of their thick waxy, foliage they are often called wax plants or sometimes porcelain flower referring to the unique texture of the flowers. While hoya safe for dogs and cats, ensure your cat doesn’t overeat as with any other safe plant material. They may vomit, diarrhea, or have stomach upsets since they cannot handle much plant material, being strict carnivores.
Kimberley Queen Fern
The Kimberley queen fern is a lush evergreen plant characterized by its large, gracefully arching, sword-shaped fronds. Overall, the plant has an upright, bushy growth habit. These ferns can be successfully grown outdoors in warm regions, as container plants that are overwintered indoors or as completely indoor houseplants. They have a fairly quick growth rate and are best planted in the spring. Graceful and timeless, this fern is easy to care for, safe to both cats and dogs; and adds a touch of the tropics to any space.
What Houseplants Are Toxic To Cats And Dogs?
Here’s a list of common poisonous plants for cats and dogs:
- Autumn Crocus or meadow saffron
- Azaleas and Rhododendrons
- Asparagus Fern
- Boston Ivy
- Cyclamen aka Persian violet
- Lilies (very toxic)
- Sago Palm
- Tulip and Hyacinth
- Tomato leaves
This is not a complete list of plants that are toxic for cats. We highly recommend you check ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for a complete list.
If you feel your pet has ingested one of your houseplants, you should immediately contact your veterinarian. Have the name of the scientific name of the plant handy because common names of plants can differ from location to location. A scientific name gives your vet the necessary information to diagnose the problem and develop a treatment process. You can usually quickly find a scientific name by searching online for the name of the plant plus “scientific name.” You can also contact the Animal Poison Control Center if you cannot get a hold of a veterinarian. Before bringing home a houseplant, check the ASPCA’s toxic and non-toxic plant list at their website.