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Are Plants Safe for Pets?

The most general questions when it comes to plants and pets is “Are they toxic to animals?”. Determining the answer to that question is quite hard. Due to the many different types of plants, there is no one answer to the questions.

First, I’d like to start off by defining the word ‘toxic’. In most cases, plants are labeled ‘toxic’ or ‘unsafe’ to alert the buyer that these plants may cause some reaction in their pet if ingested. Majority of indoor plants will only cause a minor irritation to the animal if consumed. Major cases are only present if the plant is consumed in vast quantities. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center classified houseplants into three groups. Click here to visit ASPCA to view all toxic plants and side effects.

  1. MILDLY TOXIC - These plants may cause minor skin irritation or gastrointestinal discomfort if consumed. Plants of this group include Spider Plants, Pothos, and Silver Evergreen.

  2. MODERATELY TOXIC - Moderately toxic plants can cause a more severe gastrointestinal problem or skin irritation. These plants are typically unpleasant to taste, so if your pet does decide to chew on this plant, they probably won’t eat much of it. Plants of this group include Dragon Trees, Jade Plants, and Dracaena Compacta.

  3. HIGHLY TOXIC - These plants may cause liver/kidney failure and even death. Some common plants of this group include:

  • Alocasia - Oral irritation, pain and swelling of mouth, tongue and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing

  • Aloe Vera - Vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea

  • Begonia - Kidney failure, vomiting, salivation in dogs/cats. Most toxic part is underground

  • Asparagus Fern - Allergic dermatitis with repeated dermal exposure. Berry ingestion could result in gastric upset (vomiting, abdominal pain, or diarrhea)

  • Caladium - Oral irritation, pain and swelling of mouth, tongue and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing

  • Coleus - Vomiting, diarrhea, depression, anorexia, occasionally bloody diarrhea or vomiting

  • Desert Rose - Vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, depression, irregular heart beat, death

  • Dieffenbachia - Oral irritation, intense burning and irritation of mouth, tongue and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing

  • Dracaena - Vomiting (occasionally with blood), depression, anorexia, hypersalivation, dilated pupils (cats)

  • Eucalyptus - Salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, depression, weakness

  • Fern Palm - Vomiting (may be bloody), dark stools, jaundice, increased thirst, bloody diarrhea, bruising, liver failure, death. 1-2 seeds can be fatal

  • Geranium - Vomiting, anorexia, depression, dermatitis

  • Hops - (Dogs) panting, high body temperature, seizures, death

  • Needle Point Ivy - Vomiting, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, diarrhea. Foliage is more toxic than berries

The plants listed above were chosen out of the long list of plants from ASPCA because they are all plants that we grow. Hanging around the greenhouses, we have 4 dogs and 4 cats. 2 of the dogs are neighbor dogs, but they love to roam the greenhouses. Our animals enjoy the greenhouses because of warm temperatures and sunny days, but they don’t go for the plants. A few of our cats nibble on spider plants or trailing sedums. Other than that, we haven’t had any problems with our animals consuming plants.


Most succulents are harmless to animals. Here are a few that you should watch out for.

Aloe Vera - As stated above, it ranks into the highly toxic group of plants. Although it is not harmful to people, it can be for animals.

Kalanchoes - Kalanchoes have a mild toxicity to animals. They contain bufadienolides that cause diarrhea, vomiting, irregular heartbeat, mouth irritation, drooling as well as severe weakness.

Jade Plants - Jade plants can cause many different side effects in your animals including tremors, stomach upsets, dry-heaving, and lethargy

Euphorbia - These plants contain a white latex sap that is toxic for both humans and animals. The sap causes irritation to the skin once it comes in contact. If consumed, side effects include stomach or oral irritation and vomiting.

String of Pearls - Like Euphorbias, this plant contains a sap that causes vomiting, skin irritation and diarrhea.

As stated above, most plants that are toxic have a funny taste that animals do not enjoy. Once they take one bite of the plant, they are likely to stop there. No one knows your animal like you do. So, I suggest that you visit the ASPCA website and take a look at all the plants and their side effects. If you are unsure your animal has ingested a plant, please contact:

  • Local veterinary

  • ASPCA Animal Control Center (888-426-4435)

  • Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661)

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