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Household Plants that are Dangerous for Dogs and Cats

Monday, November 26th, 2018


We take a lot of factors into consideration when decorating an apartment. We pick new color schemes, hang our favorite paintings, and try to find that perfect feng shui. Many times, finding the ideal balance of style, comfort and serenity means including fresh flowers or living plants. Unfortunately, not all flowers and house plants are suitable for homes with pets, and many of them can cause serious illness if ingested by our furry friends. These common house plants are ones you should avoid having in your home if you live in a pet-friendly environment.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera plants are common house plants that have been praised for their medicinal uses, but while the plants can be helpful to humans, they are often harmful for pets. The toxicity of aloe plants is in the skin and inner layers of the plant and is not typically found in the interior gel. Pets that ingest the leafy parts of the plant may experience diarrhea, vomiting or tremors. Be sure to keep aloe vera plants in a place your pets cannot reach if you prefer to have them in your home for medicinal purposes.

Mistletoe and Poinsettia

The holiday season often means decorating your apartment with festive holiday plants, such as poinsettia or mistletoe. Poinsettia unfortunately exudes a milky sap that can cause oral irritation, diarrhea or vomiting. Mistletoe contains the toxins pharatoxin viscumin and toxalbumin, which can cause gastrointestinal problems and even cardiac collapse in the most severe instances. Consider using fake versions of these plants for holiday decorations instead.

Sago Palms

Sago palms, also known as cardboard palms or coontie palms, may look like a taste of the tropics in your home, but they are house plants poisonous to cats and dogs. Ingestion of the plant’s cycasin toxin can lead to symptoms as simple as increased thirst and vomiting to the extremes of liver failure, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis or death. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you think your pet has ingested the toxins of a sago palm.


Tulips are beautiful, and if you purchase a bouquet of flowers during springtime, they’ll probably be included. However, tulips contain the toxic principles tulipalin A and B, which can cause diarrhea, depression, hypersalivation and vomiting. The highest concentration of toxic principles is found in the bulb.

English Ivy

English ivy is another one of the several toxic plants for cats and dogs. Also known as sweetheart ivy, it’s commonly used as a decorative plant indoors. Though when English ivy is ingested, it can lead to irritation of the gastrointestinal tract and mouth — as well as abdominal pain, excessive salivation and diarrhea. Use nontoxic Swedish ivy instead.


Many pet owners ask, “Are orchids poisonous for cats or dogs?” The answer is often ambiguous. Phalaenopsis orchids are nontoxic for your domesticated pets. However, while orchids are house plants safe for dogs and cats, it’s wise to keep your animals away from them. Fertilizers and pesticides may have been used on the plants before purchase, and your pets could consume those toxic chemicals if allowed to nibble on the leaves.

It’s important to note that while some house plants are dangerous for pets, most of them are not. Consult the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® searchable database for a complete list of nontoxic and toxic house plants, so you can decorate your home in a way that looks and feels pleasant without causing any harm to your furry family members.