Whether you are planning your outdoor landscaping, or looking to spruce up your abode, plants can offer a unique combination of beauty, tranquility, and health benefits. But, pet owners must beware of particular plant species, which can potentially threaten their furry family members. Keep in mind that curious kittens and playful puppies may find a seemingly boring plant a fun chew toy. Non-toxic plants also can cause vomiting or diarrhea, so be cautious about introducing any new plant into your environment. The Gentle Touch Animal Hospital team offers some examples of plants toxic to pets, along with some more suitable choices for your indoor and outdoor spaces: 

Popular indoor plants

These plants fall on the no-no list if you share your home with four-legged friends:

  • Lilies — Lilies come in many different species, all highly toxic to cats. Flowers falling under the Lilium spp. are especially poisonous, so cat owners should avoid these at all costs. All parts of this plant are dangerous to our feline friends, including the pollen, and they need ingest only a small amount to suffer severe kidney damage. 
  • Marijuana — This popular drug can appeal to pets, but the effects can be serious, including central nervous system depression, incoordination, vomiting, and incontinence.
  • Snake plant — This favored houseplant is aesthetically pleasing, but if ingested, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea in pets. 
  • Aloe — This plant’s interior gel-like substance is edible, but other parts can cause vomiting or diarrhea in dogs and cats. 
  • Ficus — This attractive plant comes in many species, such as the fiddle-leaf fig or rubber plant. All have the potential to cause problems in pets, from skin irritation, to vomiting, to inappetence. 
  • Holiday greenery — Popular holiday plants like mistletoe and poinsettias can cause gastrointestinal signs if pets ingest them. Learn more about holiday safety here

When choosing a home indoor plant, consider a pet-friendlier option, such as bamboo, spider plants, or ponytail palms. If you have particularly curious or rambunctious pets, use hanging planters or shelves to keep plants out of paws’ reach. 

Popular outdoor plants

Be on the lookout for these toxic plants when touring your garden or yard:

  • Lilies — This flowering plant deserves multiple mentions, because of its extreme toxicity. If your cat wanders outdoors, you may want to rethink planting any lilies. 
  • Sago palm — This tropical plant, while beautiful, can cause a variety of effects that range from vomiting, to seizures, to liver failure. All parts of the plant can be poisonous, but pay careful attention to the seeds, which contain high toxin levels. 
  • Azalea — This popular Rhododendron spp. may cause gastrointestinal signs and weakness in pets. In severe cases, coma or death may occur. 
  • Chrysanthemum — All parts of this popular flower can harm pets when ingested. Signs include drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. 
  • Oleander — This extremely poisonous flowering plant contains toxins that affect the heart, and can result in cardiac dysfunction, hypothermia, or abdominal pain. 
  • Tulip — This perennial, which is often the first sign of spring, is a favorite among garden lovers. Pets who like to dig and chew may also enjoy scooping out the plant’s bulbs, and eating their newfound toy. Monitor your pet for signs of intense stomach irritation, decreased appetite, or convulsions. 

While many garden plant varieties can harm your pets, plenty of suitable alternatives are available. Consider a bed of colorful African daisies, hibiscus, Japanese moss, petunias, or zinnias, instead. If you cannot forego a potentially dangerous plant, ensure your pets cannot access the area by placing fencing or other barriers to keep pets safe. Read our garden safety post for other tips on keeping your yard pet-friendly. 

If you believe your pet has ingested a toxic plant or substance, time is of the essence. Call the pet poison helpline at (855) 764-7661 and Gentle Touch Animal Hospital immediately. Remember—do not induce vomiting in your pet until a veterinary professional instructs you to do so.

For further information regarding toxic plants and pets, refer to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’s (ASPCA) comprehensive lists for dogs and cats.