You likely know that you shouldn’t give your dog chocolate and certain other foods, but you may not realize how many things in your home can pose a danger to your pets. One of the most surprising things I learned as a new pet parent was that while being perfectly safe for humans, some houseplants are poisonous (and even deadly) to our furry friends.
Familiarize yourself with the most common toxic household plants for pets so you know to keep them out of your your pets reach.
Given its reputation for healing, you may be surprised to learn that aloe vera is one of the many dangerous houseplants you may not realize is bad for your pup.
If you give your dog aloe juice, though, don’t worry. This plant is only dangerous if your pet chews on it, and it is just mildly toxic. Doing so can mean he ingests anthraquinone glycosides, toxins that can lead to vomiting and diarrhea.
Lilies have such a bad reputation for being toxic to cats that Pet Poison Helpline has a dedicated education campaign called No Lilies for Kitties. In his own practice, Dr. Mahaney is no stranger to lily reactions in cats. “I have seen a variety of toxic exposure secondary to cats eating plant material, but lily-induced toxicity is definitely the most common,” he says.
Lily poisoning causes acute kidney failure in cats. All parts of lily plants are toxic, including leaves, roots, petals, and pollen. Even the water from a vase of lilies can be toxic. This is true of particular lilies (those classified in the genera Lilium and Hemerocallis), including the familiar Tiger lily, Easter lily, Daylily, and Stargazer lily. Other types, including Calla lily, Peace lily, and Peruvian lily, are much less toxic to cats, causing irritation to the mouth and stomach, but no lasting damage.
The sago palm lends an instant exotic look to your home, but every single part of the plant—from the seeds and the roots all the way to the leaves—is poisonous to dogs and cats. This plant has such a bad reputation as a houseplant poisonous to dogs that it’s listed in the Pet Poison Helpline’s Top Terrible Toxins list. The toxin cycasin can cause vomiting and diarrhea. In severe cases, it can produce seizures, lethargy, and liver failure.
Tulips and hyacinths are grown from bulbs and toxic to dogs and cats. These two plants and their bulbs are moderately irritating to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, with the bulbs being the most irritating.
Dogs are at a slightly greater risk of exposure as they may eat multiple bulbs or dig up freshly planted bulbs in the yard, especially as we move into the spring.
Ingestion causes vomiting, salivation from oral irritation, and diarrhea. Skin irritation can occur, but it is relatively uncommon. Bulbs can also create a blockage of the intestinal tract.
Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane)
This common houseplant has a type of toxicity that you’ll see in some other tropical plants, such as philodendron. The leaves contain tiny, sharp calcium oxalate crystals that can irritate a dog or cat’s mouth and cause severe swelling and burning of the mouth and tongue. Rarely, this irritation can lead to difficulty breathing—and, in severe cases, death.