8 House Plants Toxic to Dogs

April 30, 2019 5 min read

Houseplants make your home feel welcoming, and some also improve indoor air quality. However, when you have a dog, you cannot just grow any plants. Several of the most common house plants, although harmless to humans, are toxic — or even fatal — for dogs.

Toxic Plants for Dogs

It is critical that you avoid buying the following plants. You should also remove any you have in your house already, or at least keep them out of reach from your pet. No matter how well behaved your dog is, there is always a risk that she may decide to eat a leaf or flower — or even the entire plant.

1. Elephant Ear

A few plants are collectively called elephant ear:

  • Alocasia
  • Caladium
  • Colocasia (or taro)
  • Xanthosoma

Whatever the name, this plant is part of the Araceae family and has large leaves that resemble elephant ears (hence the name). Plus, this plant contains chemicals that are toxic to dogs.

Ingestion of this plant leads to irritation in the mouth and symptoms like drooling, vomiting, and loss of appetite. You may also notice your dog pawing at her mouth. In rare cases, the elephant ear can even cause swelling in the upper airway, making breathing difficult.

2. Aloe Vera

You may be under the impression that aloe vera is a good houseplant choice because of its healing qualities. When applied to the skin, it can soothe irritation, treat allergies, and act as an anti-inflammatory, both for humans and dogs.

However, aloe vera plants can still be dangerous for your pet’s health. Whereas the gel is safe, other parts of the plant can cause discomfort in the digestive system if ingested. Symptoms of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, and urine color changes.

dog safe plants

3. Jade

Jade plants are trendy as indoor house plants, as they are easy to care for and resemble bonsai trees. You may know the plant by a different name: rubber plant, friendship tree, and Chinese or Japanese rubber plant. Unfortunately, it is pretty toxic for dogs.

The cause of the toxicity is unknown; what is clear is that consumption of jade can lead to vomiting, decreased heart rate, poor coordination, and lethargy.

4. Tomatoes

If you grow your own produce, think twice about tomatoes. Whereas the ripe fruit is safe for dogs (in limited amounts), the leaves and stalk of the tomato plant are toxic. This is due to a chemical called solanine.

Solanine is present in all the green parts of the tomato plant, including unripe fruit. If your dog consumes any of these parts, she could suffer from tomatine poisoning, which leads to symptoms including confusion, weakness, tremors, incoordination, diarrhea, vomiting, and depression.

If you do decide to grow tomatoes, never leave the plants inside where they are accessible to your dog. If you grow them outside, monitor your dog whenever she is in the yard and keep her away from the plants.

5. Lilies

Many flowers fall into the lily family. Not all are poisonous to dogs, but some are. Therefore, if you want to have lilies in your home, you must check that they are not one of the toxic varieties.

One of the most dangerous lilies is Mauna Loa, or peace lily. If your dog ingests any of this plant, her lips and tongue could suffer from irritation. This can cause vomiting and difficulty swallowing.

6. Zanzibar Gem “ZZ” Plants

Zanzibar gems, also known as ZZ plants, are known for their lush green leaves and tolerance to neglect, being able to survive in low-light and low-moisture conditions. Its straightforward and easy care requirements make the ZZ plant extremely common among new plant owners. 

However, every part of this plant is poisonous for ingestion. It contains calcium oxalate, the same chemical that human kidney stones consist of, which gives the entire plant sharp and irritating edges. If ingested, the calcium oxalate crystals will cause discomfort in your pup’s body.

7. Snake Plant

Snake plants are a popular home and office plant, known for its long and tall leaves. Like ZZ plants, they’re relatively easy to take care of and are a great beginner plant- and also poisonous to our pets.

Snake plants contain chemicals called saponins, which are meant to fend off mosquitoes and fungi from harming the plant. However, if your pup happens to ingest any part of this plant, they will become a victim of this plant’s natural protection. Symptoms of ingestion include diarrhea, drooling, nausea, and ruptured red blood cells.

8. Oleander

Oleanders are plants with beautiful colored flowers that make them a popular choice for houseplants. Despite their appearance, oleanders are extremely toxic to adults, children, and their pets. In fact, even a single leaf could cause the death of a healthy adult.

Oleanders are so toxic due to the presence of cardiac glycosides, which increase the output force of the heart while decreasing the rate of contractions. Potential symptoms of ingestion include high blood pressure, labored breathing, seizures, tremors, and shock.

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unsafe plants for dogs

More Plants to Avoid

Above are five of the most common houseplants that pose a danger to your dog. However, there are a few more that are worth mentioning. These are:

  • When you have a dog, you need to watch out for more than just poison ivy —regular ivyis extremely dangerous. Ingestion puts your dog at risk of a coma or paralysis.
  • Sago palm: A type of palm from Southern Japan, the leaves, roots, and seeds of the sago palm are all poisonous to dogs. Consuming a large quantity can cause liver failure.
  • There are 40 differenthosta species, all containing a variety of saponins. These saponins can cause irritation if they make contact with the skin. The saponins turn into a foam in the digestive tract, first paralyzing the tract and then forcing the intestines to twist. The consequences are even worse if your dog ingests a hosta plant.
  • Just touching aniriscan lead to mild skin irritation. Never allow your dog to dig up the bulbs, as consumption can lead to digestive problems.
  • Dumb cane: You may know dumb cane by the name exotica or tropic snow or perhaps by its official name: dieffenbachia. It is an extremely toxic plant for dogs, leading to burning of the mouth, difficulty swallowing, and trouble breathing.
  • There are more than 1,000 species ofbegoniaas well as 10,000 hybrids. All of them can lead to vomiting if ingested. The most dangerous part of the plant is under the ground, but the entire begonia poses a health risk for dogs.
  • The flowers, leaves, and stems ofcarnationsare all mildly toxic to dogs. Consumption may cause your pooch to vomit or suffer from dermatitis.
  • Asparagus fern: The berries of asparagus fern contain sapogenin. This chemical can give your dog digestive problems, including abdominal pain, and cause her skin to become inflamed.
  • The lush, colorful flowers ofchrysanthemumscan look appealing to dogs. Although fatalities are rare, consumption of any part of the plant does lead to excessive salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, and poor coordination.

Plenty of house plants are completely safe for dogs. Some will even provide your dog with health benefits if she does decide to eat them. Avoid all the above and opt instead for plants like purple basil, spider plants, bamboo, and African daisy.