When researching or shopping for almost any indoor plant, you’re destined to come across the statements ‘Non-Toxic’ or ‘Toxic for Pets.’ But what do those statements really mean? Can you safely be both a pet parent and a plant parent?
Plants have toxins that are dangerous to animals and humans as a form of protection in the wild. If a plant is killing all the things that try to eat it, it’s more likely to grow and prosper (remember natural selection in high school biology?). These toxins can be dangerous for your little fur babies, along with actual babies and even adults.
What’s important about toxicity is that it ranges from species to species. Philodendrons and Oleanders are both technically toxic to animals, but ingestion of Oleanders are more likely to be fatal (even for humans) while ingestion of Philodendrons are more likely to cause stomach aches and digestion issues.
This all sounds scary at first; nobody wants to harm anyone with plants, right? Well, you can still have beautiful plants in your home without causing any harm to your furry friends.
First, there are a wide variety of plants that are certified non-toxic to animals. The ASPCA has an extensive list of toxic and non-toxic plants. Save this page and use it as a reference when looking for plants for a pet filled home.
Toxic Plants Don’t Have to be Off-Limits
But let’s say there’s one plant you really want in your home, but it’s toxic to your pets. What should you do? Most of the time, it’s still safe to bring the plant into your home. This is especially true if you only have dogs, who tend to be less intrigued by plants (or unable to reach them on shelves). Cats can be a bit trickier, as they tend to love rubbing against plants and jump on high shelves that you think would be out of their reach.
If you do have a mischievous pet that loves to chew on things, it’s probably best to stick to non-toxic plants to keep your pet safe. If your pet doesn’t chew on random objects or won’t be able to get to a high surface like a shelf, then a toxic plant will be okay as long as it’s out of their reach. Choose a room that your pet isn’t in often and choose a shelf or surface that they can’t reach, but also make sure to keep an eye on them. If you have a plant you know isn’t safe for your pet to consume, make sure to train and shoo them away from it any time they get too curious. If you really have a troublemaker on your hands, it may be best to remove all toxic plants from your home.
Lastly, if the unthinkable happens and your pet does ingest a toxic plant, make sure to get them care immediately. Most toxic plants will cause inflammation and irritation, along with diarrhea or vomiting if ingested. This can be fatal if not treated properly and quickly. Call the Pet Poison Hotline at 1-855-764-7661 and/or get your pet to a vet as soon as possible.