Being a pet parent is a lot like taking care of plants. Feeding both the proper amount of food, sunlight and water is important to keep them healthy. They respond to love and attention with the same types of growth and maturity, even perking up when you talk to them. Filling your space with pets and houseplants really turns a house into a home.
It is important to understand that if certain types of plants are brought into a home with animals, the results can be dangerous. Many common, easy-to-care-for houseplants are not safe for pets. Curious dogs and cats may sneak a nibble and develop symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, or other serious issues that need medical attention. In those times, having plants and being a pet parent may seem impossible.
If you believe that your pet is ill because they may have eaten, licked, or swallowed a poisonous substance or plant material, immediately contact your veterinarian to find out the closest emergency veterinary clinic or contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Phone Number at (888) 426-4435 (fees may apply).
It’s best to keep pets away from all plants at all times. Here are four possible options:
Have one room in the house where you put all of your plants and where your pets are never allowed. This room would also be a safe space for people who might be allergic to your pets.
If you don’t have that much space in your home, you could get a mini, enclosed greenhouse where all your plants are located.
Get fake plants with broad leaves that your pet has no interest in nibbling.
Reduce the risk of any accidents by placing plants on high shelves or hanging them so that they are far out of reach for nosey pet paws.
If you must have plants where your pets will be, then there are some more pet-friendly houseplants that are less likely to make your pet extremely sick. Whether you want to make your home a little greener or give a new plant to a friend with pets, these houseplants are more likely to coexist with your furry family with fewer worries of expensive and unplanned vet visits.
Before you bring any plants into your home, make sure to check the ASPCA’s list of toxic and non-toxic plants.
Houseplants that Are Toxic for Pets
This list contains some common houseplants that have been reported by the ASPCA as having systemic effects on animals, such as organ damage leading to sickness and even death, and/or intense effects on the gastrointestinal tract, such as severe vomiting and diarrhea, which can lead to death. The information contained in this list is not all-inclusive.
Peace Lily (Mauna Loa Peace Lily): These plants that only bloom once or twice in their life cycle contain a type of calcium salt that’s toxic to dogs and can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested in small amounts. Also, avoid the climbing lily or glory lily. Eating these plants may cause severe health problems, including death.
Aloe Vera: While aloe vera is a great medicinal plant for scrapes and burns, its gel can make your pet sick. If your pet has eaten any aloe, symptoms may include vomiting, decreased activity, and diarrhea. A safer alternative: Haworthia or other succulents
Elephant Ears: There are many varieties of this plant, and nearly all of them are toxic for your pet, producing many of the same symptoms as peace lilies if ingested. A safer alternative: Elephant’s foot, also known as a pony tail plant
Certain Garden Herbs: Keep a close eye on your indoor garden - those fresh herbs could spell fresh disaster. Lavender, mint, parsley, oregano, and even tomato plants can be harmful for your pet and cause digestion issues. Safer alternatives: Basil, thyme
Hydrangea: Though beautiful, these flowering plants are deadly for cats and dogs. They are capable of producing hydrogen cyanide, and though cases are rare, cyanide intoxication is possible along with depression and symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea similar to those listed above. A safer alternative: African violet
Safer Houseplants for Your Pet
Eating plant material may cause vomiting and gastrointestinal upset for dogs and cats. The houseplants listed here are safer options as reported by the ASPCA.
Boston Fern: Great for cleaning the air inside homes, Boston ferns have big fronds that can grow to five feet long. Store in cool temperatures with high humidity and indirect sunlight.
Zebra Plant: If you’re in the market for large, green leaves without the potential risk, a zebra plant will bring the tropics inside. Striped white, pink, or yellow, these native Brazilian plants will grow three feet when placed in a draining pot with moisture‑holding soil.
Spider Plant: These are great for beginner plant parents. Low light and weekly waterings will see these long‑tendriled wonders grow tall and sprout plant babies that make great gifts.
Bamboo: Golden or fishpole bamboo plants are also ideal pet‑home plants. They thrive in indirect light, and even in artificial sunlight environments, and they just need to be watered regularly.
Snapdragon: Add color to a home with snapdragons. Their blooms come in a variety of colors and have a lovely scent.