Keeping your Home for your Dog: Poinsettias & other Toxic Plants!
Updated: May 6
Asparagus Fern Asparagus fern (also called emerald feather, emerald fern, sprengeri fern, plumosa fern, and lace fern) is toxic to dogs and cats. The toxic agent in this plant is sapogenin—a steroid found in a variety of plants. If a dog or cat ingests the berries of this plant, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or abdominal pain can occur. Allergic dermatitis (skin inflammation) can occur if an animal is repeatedly exposed to this plant.
Corn Plant Corn plant (also known as cornstalk plant, dracaena, dragon tree, and ribbon plant) is toxic to dogs and cats. Saponin is the toxic chemical compound in this plant. If this plant is ingested, vomiting (with or without blood), appetite loss, depression, and/or increased salivation can occur. Affected cats may also have dilated pupils.
Dieffenbachia Dieffenbachia (commonly known as dumb cane, tropic snow, and exotica) is toxic to dogs and cats. Dieffenbachia contains a chemical that is a poisonous deterrent to animals. If this plant is ingested, oral irritation can occur, especially on the tongue and lips. This irritation can lead to increased salivation, difficulty swallowing, and vomiting.
Elephant Ear Elephant ear (also known as caladium, taro, pai, ape, cape, via, via sori, and malanga) contains a chemical similar to the one in dieffenbachia, so an animal’s toxic reaction to elephant ear is similar: oral irritation, increased salivation, difficulty swallowing, and vomiting.
Lilies Many plants of the lily family are considered toxic to cats, and some are considered toxic to dogs. Cats are the only animals in which the Easter and stargazer lilies are known to be toxic. Generally, a cat’s first toxic reaction to this plant includes vomiting, lethargy, and a lack of appetite, but severe kidney failure, and even death, can quickly follow if a cat is untreated. The peace lily (also known as Mauna Loa) is toxic to dogs and cats. Ingestion of the peace lily or calla lily can cause irritation of the tongue and lips, increased salivation, difficulty swallowing, and vomiting.
Cyclamen Cyclamen (also known as sowbread) is a pretty, flowering plant that is toxic to dogs and cats. If ingested, this plant can cause increased salivation, vomiting and diarrhea. If an animal ingests a large amount of the plant’s tubers—which are found at the root, generally below the soil—heart rhythm abnormalities, seizures, and even death can occur.
Heartleaf Philodendron Heartleaf philodendron (also known as horsehead philodendron, cordatum, fiddle-leaf, panda plant, split-leaf philodendron, fruit salad plant, red emerald, red princess, and saddle leaf) is a common, easy-to-grow houseplant that is toxic to dogs and cats. This philodendron contains a chemical that can irritate the mouth, tongue, and lips of animals. An affected pet may also experience increased salivation, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.
Jade Plant Jade plant (also known as baby jade, dwarf rubber plant, jade tree, Chinese rubber plant, Japanese rubber plant, and friendship tree) is toxic to cats and dogs. The toxic property in this plant is unknown, but ingestion of it can cause vomiting, depression, ataxia (incoordination), and bradycardia (slow heart rate; this is rare).
Aloe Plant Aloe plant (also known as medicine plant and Barbados aloe) is a common, succulent plant that is toxic to dogs and cats. Aloin is considered the toxic agent in this plant. This bitter, yellow substance is found in most aloe species and may cause vomiting and/or the urine to become reddish.
Satin Pothos Satin pothos (also known as silk pothos) is toxic to dogs and cats. If ingested by a cat or dog, this plant may irritate the mouth, lips, and tongue. The pet may also experience an increase in salivation, vomiting, and/or difficulty swallowing.
(Alternate Names: Euphorbia, lobster flower, flame leaf flower, Flower of the Holy Night, Flower of Christmas Eve, Crown of the Andes, Easter flower)
During the holidays, poinsettias are a popular Christmas plant. Though they have a bad rap, poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) plants are only mildly toxic to cats and dogs. The milky white sap found in poinsettias contains chemicals called diterpenoid euphorbol esters and saponin-like detergents. While poinsettias are commonly “hyped” as poisonous plants, they rarely are, and the poisoning is greatly exaggerated. When ingested, mild signs of vomiting, drooling, or rarely, diarrhea may be seen. If the milky sap is exposed to skin, dermal irritation (including redness, swelling, and itchiness) may develop. Rarely, eye exposure can result in mild irritation. Signs are generally self-limiting and typically don’t require medical treatment unless severe and persistent. There is no antidote for poinsettia poisoning. That said, due to the low level of toxicity seen with poinsettia ingestion, medical treatment is rarely necessary unless clinical signs are severe. Common signs to watch for:
Skin irritation (including redness, swelling, and itchiness)
Learn More: For a full list of toxic and non-toxic indoor and outdoor plants, visit the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) website at www.aspca.org or The Humane Society of the United States website at www.humanesociety.org.