Plants can really transform and brighten up a home. However, some species are incredibly dangerous for your dog and can even be fatal if ingested. In this post, you’ll learn about 10 houseplants poisonous to dogs you should avoid. Many of these can be known by different names so it’s important that you get familiar with them. Also, make sure you always have a first-aid kit prepared for your dogs in case there is an emergency.
1. Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis miller)
Aloe grows in hot and dry climates and is mostly cultivated in subtropical regions including the southern border areas of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. It’s a cactus-like plant and is mostly known for its gel that has skin-smoothing properties in humans. Although aloe vera is beneficial for humans in many instances when applied topically, it can have the opposite effect on dogs. The gel found inside the leaves can be used on a dog’s skin as a topical treatment, but chewing on aloe can pose a big risk for dogs because it contains a toxin called anthraquinone glycosides. When ingested, the toxin causes vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, tremors, and changes in urine color.
2. Asparagus fern (Asparagus setaceus)
In the wild, asparagus fern plants grow in soft clumps in the steamy forests of South Africa and lives in the partial shade of bigger trees. This plant is also known as lace fern, emerald fern, emerald feather, plumosa fern, or sprengeri fern. It’s an evergreen perennial with trailing branches covered with small, thin leaves that give it a bushy and fluffy appearance. It can have small berries that contain sapogenin which is a toxin that can be toxic to dogs if ingested. Consuming sapogenin can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.
3. Bird of paradise (Strelitzia reginae)
The bird of paradise plant is native to the subtropical coastal areas of Southern Africa but has been cultivated worldwide and naturalized in North, Central, and South America. It became a popular houseplant due to its large foliage and orange and blue flowers. However, the most famous part of this plant, the flower, is also the most toxic to dogs. It contains a substance called hydrogen cyanide that causes gastrointestinal irritation which can result in nausea, vomiting, and drowsiness if ingested.
4. Dumb cane (Dieffenbachia seguine)
Originally from Mexico, South America, and the West Indies south to Argentina, the dumb cane plant thrives in any light conditions other than direct sunlight and it’s known for its wide, bushy leaves. It got its name due to a poisonous toxin called calcium oxalate that when ingested, burns the mouth and numbs the throat, causing temporary loss of speech. The word “dumb” in the plant’s name was used to describe someone that isn’t able to talk.
This substance is toxic to both humans and their pets, including dogs, and it’s most prevalent on the leaves of dumb cane plants. Its ingestion has the same reaction in dogs as it does in humans, resulting in difficulty swallowing, vomiting, and increased salivation. In more extreme cases, it can cause breathing difficulties and even death.
5. Elephant ears (Colocasia, Alocasia, and Xanthosoma)
The name elephant ears refers to a group of tropical perennial plants that belong to the genera Colocasia, Alocasia, and Xanthosoma. The genera Colocasia and Alocasia are native to tropical South Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Guinea, parts of Australia, and the Pacific Islands. The genus Xanthosoma is native to tropical America.
These plants are known for their large heart-shaped leaves with decorative veining which inspired its common name elephant ears. Similar to the plant dumb cane which was described earlier, elephant ears plants also contain calcium oxalate in its leaves in needle-like crystals which can cause irritation when in contact with the skin and also causes swelling of the mouth and tongue, and in extreme cases, consumpiton can trigger severe breathing difficulty.
6. Ivies (Hedera genus)
The Hedera genus contains 12-15 species native to Western, Central, and Southern Europe, Northwestern Africa, and can be found all across Central-Southern Asia, east to Japan and Taiwan.
Most Ivy species use their aerial roots with adhering disks to creep or climb. These adhering disks develop on the stems that carry simple leaves, with at least three lobes. The most common species of ivy used as houseplants are the English ivy (or poison ivy) and Irish ivy which is often used as a ground cover. Although ivies are a common houseplant, it’s poisonous for dogs due to a toxin called saponins. When ingested, this toxin can cause moderate to severe swelling of the mouth leading a dog to paw at its face, foam, or even vomit. In extreme cases, it can lead to difficulty breathing and swallowing and even coma or paralysis.
7. Jade plant (Crassula ovata)
The jade plant is native to South Africa and was once thought to bring good luck to their owners and, therefore, given as a housewarming gift. However, it doesn’t bring much luck to dog owners as it’s poisonous for dogs.
This succulent houseplant is known for its fleshy, oval-shaped leaves and thick, woody stems that look like small tree trunks. Some people also call it the rubber plant. Although peopel arne’t sure of the exact substance that makes this plant toxic to dogs, ingesting it can result in vomiting, discoordination, slow heart rate, and depression.
8. Lilies (Lilium genus)
The Lilium genus contains 80 to 100 species and most of them are native to the temperate northern hemisphere although their range extends into the northern subtropics.
These flowering plants grow from bulbs and have leafy stems and large prominent flowers that consist of six petal-like segments which may form the shape of a trumpet with a more or less elongated tube.
Although not all types of lilies are highly toxic to dogs, most of them can cause an upset stomach when ingested or other uncomfortable reactions. However, the most toxic types of lilies are the Prairie Lily, Lily of the Valley, Peace Lilly, and the Calla Lilly. Besides an upset stomach, these may cause depression, anorexia, and tremors.
9. Sago palm (Cycas revoluta)
Sago palms are native to the tropical regions of Japan, commonly found in their bonsai form and popular for their feathery foliage and ease of care. They’re characterized by a crown of thick green palm leaves supported by a shaggy trunk.
This plant is extremely toxic to both humans and dogs, due to a toxin called Cycasin which causes liver failure that can lead to death whenever ingested. Some early signs of its ingestion are vomiting, diarrhea and seizures. Although dogs usually don’t find this plant attractive, it’s best to avoid it altogether.
10. ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)
The ZZ plant is a tropical perennial plant native to Eastern Africa and it’s known for its smooth and naturally shiny leaves that range from a bright lime color in their youth to an emerald green when they’re mature. Like some other houseplants mentioned before, this plant also contains calcium oxalate crystals which cause irritation and swelling in the mouth and tongue and can lead to breathing difficulties.
Making sense of it all
If you’re looking to add some leafy and flowery pets to your household, remember to avoid some of them as there are some houseplant species that are poisonous to dogs. If you already have any of these plants at home, try to keep them away from your pets, and don’t hesitate to call your vet if you see any of the symptoms described above that may indicate that your dog ingested it.