Houseplants help make a home more inviting and warm. However, if you have a dog or cat as well, be aware that they may chew on them, and some houseplants are extremely toxic to pets.
While most plant toxins can create stomach upset, some are life-threatening. There are few things as upsetting as having your pet suddenly begin to vomit or collapse into a seizure.
If your pet has eaten any part of a leaf or flower, your veterinarian will need to know what type of plant was involved. If you think your pet is sick or might have swallowed anything toxic, you should immediately contact your local veterinarian, or call the ASPCA 24-hour emergency poison hotline at 1-888-426-4435.
Since dogs and cats like to make salad out of your houseplants, it can be handy to have a list of the ones that will do the most damage. Here is a group of plants that are toxic to pets:
Amaryllis: Though beautiful, the amaryllis contains substances that can cause gastrointestinal problems, lethargy, and tremors if ingested by either dogs or cats.
Fruit trees: Branches, stems, and leaves of fruit trees, including apple, cherry, peach, and others, can be deadly, as they contain cyanide. Pets, including horses, should not eat any part except the fruit.
Chrysanthemum: All parts of these flowers, if ingested, can cause diarrhea, vomiting, lack of coordination, or dermatitis in dogs, cats, and horses.
Easter Lily: The beautiful lily so popular in the early spring is poisonous to cats. It can cause kidney failure and death if any part is ingested.
Poinsettia: This is another popular holiday flower that’s dangerous for pets. Sap in this plant contains harmful chemicals.
Ivy: Trailing vines look innocent enough, but they are almost irresistible to cats who love to play with the stems. Ivy contains toxins strong enough to cause convulsions if eaten. It can affect dogs, cats, and horses.
Foxglove and Lily of the Valley: These flowers contain cardiac glycoside toxins that affect the heart, and are toxic to dogs and cats. Pets should be kept away from the water in vases that hold them as well.
Iris: The leaves and rhizomes of iris can cause gastrointestinal issues in dogs and cats.
Sago Palm: Sago palms are extremely toxic for pets if ingested. They contain a toxin called cycasin, which can cause vomiting, internal bleeding, liver failure, and death. The entire tree is poisonous, but the seeds especially.
Tulips: Tulips are poisonous to dogs, cats, and horses. They can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Most of the toxins are contained in the bulb.
While many plants are not good for animals to eat, toxicity levels can vary, and it sometimes takes a large concentration to make a pet ill. If your pet swallows any part of a plant, it is a good idea to make a call right away and find out if you should rush him or her to the emergency room or just keep him under observation at home for a while.
For a more comprehensive list of plants that are toxic and non-toxic to pets, check out the ASPCA Poison Control site.