There are so many wonderful household plants that can help freshen the air in our homes, reduce our blood pressure and stress levels and bring the joys of nature indoors. But, just like outside plants, there are many beautiful and beneficial household plants that shouldn’t be brought into our homes if we have furry friends in residence.
Popular household plants like pothos, ZZ plant, snake plant, aloe vera and philodendron have wonderful attributes and can enhance a home with their uniqueness and hardiness, but one thing these plants have in common is their toxicity to pets. Bypass these plants to help keep your pets healthy or, if you have a potentially dangerous plant that you want to keep, ensure that it is always out of reach and unable to be accessed—especially if it’s a draping variety!
Plants to avoid and some safe alternatives
Pothos is one of those attractively draping, low maintenance plants that, if ingested by a dog or cat, causes burning and swelling in the mouth, drooling and vomiting. Another draping plant, Wandering Jew, is also toxic, causing skin and intestinal irritations. A Boston Fern doesn’t hang quite as low, but it is a pet-friendly alternative.
A popular plant nicknamed the ZZ plant (short for Zamioculcas zamiifolia) grows well in low light conditions and tolerates infrequent watering. Unfortunately, it causes vomiting and diarrhea if ingested by animals. If looking for a taller plant, try a safe areca palm or fun ponytail palm instead.
The tall and narrow snake plant is great for small spaces and is a very hardy plant. But if ingested by critters, it causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Instead, select a lovely orchid that isn’t toxic to animals. Keep the orchid happy and flowering by repotting it regularly and ensuring that its roots are watered but kept well-drained.
Aloe vera is loaded with health and medicinal benefits for humans and is a lovely succulent, but pets that make the mistake of chewing on it experience vomiting, diarrhea and tremors. A beautiful bromeliad is a better alternative.
Related: Plants That Thrive in the Bathroom
The low maintenance philodendron plant has fun tropical foliage, but animals suffer a burning and swollen mouth, drooling and vomiting if they nibble it. An exotic prayer plant or peacock plant can be just as stunning and safer for curious critters.
Lucky bamboo plants aren’t actually true bamboo (which is not toxic to animals), but they are easy and fun houseplants that thrive in spite of bad light, poor air quality and irregular watering. Unfortunately, drooling, vomiting and weakness are symptoms unlucky pets experience if they sample the plant. A very tolerant spider plant is an alternative that can survive in similar less-than-ideal environments.
Other plants to avoid
Lilies, some types of ivy, dieffenbachia, cyclamen, jade plants and fiddle leaf figs all have varying levels of toxicity for pets. Be aware that sago palms can be deadly, as can the cyclamen tubers, so it’s wise to avoid those plants entirely. And even though poinsettias are only mildly toxic, why risk your pet’s health? Many animals have innate sense to avoid poisonous plants, but an artificial poinsettia arrangement is so much cheaper than a trip to the veterinarian and the guilt of knowing you could have prevented your pet’s pain and suffering.
A few more safe plant options
African violets, gloxinia and goldfish plants have pretty flowers. Baby’s tears are a pet-safe companion plant around the base of a nontoxic banana tree and can help keep pets from digging in the dirt. Peperomia and mosaic plants are other safe, attractive options. If unsure about the safety of a plant, do your research before bringing it home and help maintain a healthy co-existence for all the living organisms in your house.
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