What does a toxic plant really mean?
What does it mean if a plant is toxic?
We all know the joys of looking after houseplants, but there can also be worries about how safe they are for our cats and dogs.
What plants are toxic for my pets? What does toxic mean? These are two of the most common questions we receive from our plant parent community.
Firstly toxic means poisonous, causing adverse reactions in animals or people to varying extents. Animals are curious by nature, but not everything they explore is harmless!
Unfortunately there are plants which are truly toxic to pets, and need to be kept away from our furry pals as they can cause serious illness or death. Then there are plants that are considered toxic with mild-severe symptoms, and to a lesser degree plants that would need to be consumed in high volumes to trigger a stomach ache.
"The majority of plants won't cause more than an upset stomach, and most dogs won't eat plants that are poisonous"
Thankfully the number of truely toxic and potentialy fatal houseplants is quite low, but you'll want to avoid species such as: Euphorbia, Peace Lilly (specifically for cats), Dieffenbachia and Sago Palms.
Most houseplants are considered toxic but often need to be consumed in large amounts for any problems to occur. However, there are some plants that can cause mild to severe symptoms which you'll want your pets to stay clear of: Caladiums, Dracaenas, Araceaes, Sansevierias, Ivy, Pothos, ZZ, Philodendron, Syngoniums, Monsteras and Ficus trees.
If your pet ingests these they can experience very unpleasant symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomitting, swollen mouth and tremors. The reason being that the majority of these plants contain insoluble calcium oxalates, which when biten release needle like crystals into the mouth and gastro intestinal tract.
Tips to keep your pets away
Keep your plants beyond their reach - think high up shelves or hanging planters! There are some smells that your pets won't enjoy, so you can try mixing lavender, citrus, or garlic into water then misting your plants to turn their nose away. Lastly shop for pet friendly plants to reduce the risk of them experiencing any nasties.
Pet friendly plants
Some houseplants, no matter how much your furry ones likes to nibble, are perfectly safe. Plants such as peperomias, pileas, ferns, calatheas, hoyas, spider plants and most succulents are good choices!