Common Houseplants That Are Toxic to Pets

dog sitting in a chair near plant

Plants are great for decorating your apartment, there’s no doubt about it. But if you’re a pet parent and unbeknownst to you bring home a toxic houseplant, you could be putting your beloved cat or dog at risk of a serious medical emergency.

You want to protect your fur babies at all cost, so check the label before you make a purchase. If you’re unsure if a plant is poisonous or not, go online or check with your pet’s veterinarian. Below are common houseplants that are toxic to pets using information provided by the ASPCA.


Castor Bean Plant

Toxicity: harmful to cats and dogs

The castor bean plant contains ricin, which is one of the most potent toxins our pets can be exposed to. Its seeds have the highest concentration of ricin – though, it’s found throughout the entire plant. To put it into perspective, castor oil is made from castor bean and used in oil production.    

Symptoms: burning of the mouth and throat, oral irritation, increase in thirst, vomiting, diarrhea, kidney failure, and convulsion


Caladium (elephant ears)

Toxicity: harmful to cats and dogs

They may liven up your television stand – but you better think again before bringing these plants home. Also known as elephant ears, this common houseplant releases insoluble calcium oxalate crystals called raphides when ingested or bitten into. Raphides are known to cause mild to moderate mouth irritation and pain. 

Symptoms: pain and swelling of the mouth, tongue, and lips; oral irritation and discomfort, excessive drooling, and difficulty swallowing


Dumb cane

Toxicity: harmful to cats and dogs

Its dumb cane’s vibrant green leaves and easy maintenance that are attractive qualities in a houseplant. What’s not cool? Just like caladium, dumb cane contains raphides and can greatly affect the mouth and gastrointestinal (GI) tract when ingested. Side effects can be serious and will need immediate medical attention.

Symptoms: excessive drooling, oral pain and irritation, lack of appetite, and vomiting


Easter lily

Toxicity: harmful to cats

It may be pretty to look at, but Easter lilies pose a very serious health risk to cats. Its white trumpet-shaped flowers and sweet scent houses a very potent toxin that can lead to kidney failure or death if ingested. 

Symptoms: lack of appetite, lethargy, vomiting, kidney failure, and death may occur



Toxicity: harmful to cats and dogs

No matter the color – whether it be orange, red, or yellow – lantana contains toxic triterpenoids which can cause sudden liver failure if not treated immediately. The flower is very popular in its native Southern region where it grows wildly, particularly in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. 

Symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, labored breathing, weakness, and liver failure



Toxicity: harmful to cats and dogs

Several types of mistletoe exist in the world, such as American and European varieties. Although the European types are much more severe, the berries of this holiday plant, if ingested, can result in mild to moderate discomfort of our fur babies. If you’d like to keep mistletoe around for the holidays, opt for artificial instead of real around pets. 

Symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, low heart rate, and low blood pressure (rare)


Heartleaf Philodendrons

Toxicity: harmful to cats and dogs

Just like elephant ears and dumb cane, biting into or ingesting heartleaf philodendrons may cause irritation of the mouth and GI tract. The plant contains raphides and should not be in the same household with a cat or dog. 

Symptoms: oral irritation, pain and swelling of the mouth, lips, and tongue; excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing



Toxicity: harmful to cats and dogs

This popular holiday plant contains mild toxins within its sap. If swallowed, dogs and cats will need medical attention if symptoms last more than a couple of days. 

Symptoms: irritation of the mouth and stomach; sometimes causing vomiting, but generally mild in toxicity

Even though the toxicity is relatively low, it’s best to keep these houseplants out of the home so pets aren’t tempted to eat them.


Rosary Pea (Prayer Bean)

 Toxicity: harmful to cats and dogs

It may be known by many names, but the seeds (peas) contain abrin and are very toxic. Abrin is similar to ricin and, if ingested, may lead to highly severe reactions that need immediate medical treatment.

Symptoms: severe vomiting and diarrhea (sometimes bloody), tremors, fast heart rate, fever, shock, and death may occur

If you suspect your pet has ingested any of the following houseplants or poisonous substances, and are displaying any signs of the aforementioned symptoms, please call your neighborhood veterinarian or the APCC quickly for medical assistance.  

The following article was written using information provided by the ASPCA.

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