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Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic Blog

Pet Safe House Plants: Identifying Friend or Foe

Cat smelling plant.

It only seems natural that those who love animals might also enjoy some greenery in their lives. Caring for plants has many similarities to caring for pets, and many people enjoy nurturing both. 

When bringing plants into a home inhabited by pets, though, Animal Skin and Allergy Clinic wants to be sure that our animal-loving clientele realizes that not all plants and pets get along. If you are strategic, though, there are many pet-safe houseplants you can add to your home without worry. 

Potential Plant Problems

While seemingly harmless, plants can pose a significant risk to our animals. They can also be a valuable source of enrichment to both us and our four-legged friends.

Most plants have evolved some type of natural defense to keep themselves from being eaten over time. This means that it is possible that ingestion of a plant could cause things like oral irritation, drooling, nausea, stomach upset, or diarrhea.

Animals tend to explore with their mouths, and cats in particular often clean their fur of any debris with their tongue. This means that they are at unique risk when it comes to exposure to plant toxins. 

There are certain house plants that carry such high risk to our pets that they land on the absolute no-no list. These include:

Lily plants—All parts of the lily plant can cause severe toxicity to cats. Many lily species can also be dangerous for dogs. Ingestion of the pollen, leaf, or flower in any amount is a pet emergency and can lead to acute kidney failure. 

Sago palms—These popular outdoor plants sometimes make it indoors. Chewing on any part of the plant including the nut they produce can cause liver failure. 

Desert rose—A very attractive succulent plant, the desert rose can cause some pretty serious problems when ingested that include irregular heartbeat and even death. 

Oleander/Foxglove—These pretty flowers contain digoxin, a compound that can also affect heart function when ingested.

Our Favorite Pet Safe House Plants

Not to worry, though. There are plenty of pet-safe houseplants that animal lovers can enjoy without stress. Careful plant selection in your yard and home can ensure a happy, healthy pet. 

When adding a little green to your home, consider options like:

  • African violets
  • Baby rubber plants
  • Bamboo palm
  • Boston ferns
  • Calendula
  • Catnip
  • Cat grass 
  • Gerbera daisies
  • Hens and chicks
  • Parlor palms
  • Phalaenopsis orchids
  • Prayer plants
  • Spider plants
  • Succulents (most varieties, research first)

As a pet owner, it is important to know what varieties of plants you are keeping in your home and their potential toxicity. Taking the time to learn this information can help you avoid pet toxicities while enjoying plants in your home. 

Most plants when ingested can cause some tummy upset. If this becomes problematic, you may need to consider keeping your plants in a less pet-accessible area of your home. Encourage your feline friends to chew on plants like cat grass and catnip that are very tummy-friendly. 

Pets and plants can go together, and when carefully selected may even offer your pet valuable environmental enrichment and enjoyment. As always, contact us with any questions you might have. We love helping with anything that can help pets and their people thrive.