Pets and Plants: The Good, the Bad, and the Toxic

AIMSS_iStock_000040720058_LargeAfter the dazzling lights of the holidays are packed away, the house can feel less festive or downright dull. You might be considering some seasonal plants or pretty foliage to add some pizazz, but beware of pets and plants – they can be a recipe for disaster.

Whether you have a dog, cat, or other animal companion, plants are often tempting to curious fur pals. Sure, this can result in a few broken pots, but it can also present a poisoning emergency without the proper planning.

Buyer Beware: Toxic Plants

Did you know that more than 700 plants are potentially toxic to your pet? It’s true. Of the total pet poisoning cases each year, 25% are caused by plants.

So while it’s fun to be spontaneous at the greenhouse or local nursery, it’s important to review a comprehensive list of toxic plants, such as the one compiled by the Humane Society of the United States.

Some of the worst offenders include:

  • Amaryllis
  • Yew
  • Lilies (extremely poisonous to cats)
  • Daffodils
  • Aloe vera
  • Ivy
  • Philodendron
  • Pothos (in the same family as the philodendron)
  • Caladium (Elephant’s Ears)
  • Castor bean
  • Dumbcane

Each of these plants are commonly found in the home and possess varying degrees of toxicity. To be safe, always do your homework before bringing home a new plant or tree.

Other Tips for Pets and Plants

Even if you fill your home with lovely nontoxic plants, there’s always the risk of vomiting, diarrhea, and throat/mouth inflammation should your plant-munching companion decide to feast. That’s why it’s a good idea to treat any plant as though it could cause some level of gastric upset.

To avoid any emergencies, practice the following safety guidelines regarding plants and pets:

  • If possible, dedicate one room, like a sunny office or guest bedroom, to the safekeeping of your plants, and make it off-limits to your pet.
  • If your kitty loves to chew on grass, try wild oat seed (Avena sativa, cat grass) as a nontoxic option.
  • Rather than keep plants on tables or other pet-accessible areas, get creative with hanging baskets, unused shelf space, or build your own shelving near a sunny window.
  • Keep the numbers for ASPCA Poison Control and Animal Internal Medicine & Specialty Services on the refrigerator or another easy to find place (Animal Emergency Services is open 24 hours a day).
  • Supervise your pet when visiting friends or relatives and whenever you are outdoors. There are numerous plants (including fruit trees and shrubs) that are poisonous and plentiful.

Keeping your home overflowing with foliage is a wonderful way to bring nature indoors. Putting these plant safety suggestions into practice will ensure your enjoyment of the greenery and blooms while also keeping your beloved pet safe.

posted in:  Pet Safety