Loving houseplants and your pets at the same time is often a difficult process. So many popular houseplants you may dream about owning may seem entirely out of reach if you have pets. Yes, there are ways to deter pets from dangerous plants. But if you have stubborn and mischievous pets like I do, you know those methods don’t always help.
Some pets have absolutely no interest in houseplants, ignoring them completely. Others want to chew on everything they see, including tasty leaves and stems. If your pets are in the latter category, avoid keeping any of these 31 houseplants that are toxic to pets.
These plants are risky for pets due to toxic calcium oxalate.
Thanks to their ease of care and variety between species, Philodendrons are among the most popular houseplants. Unfortunately, they are also among the most dangerous plants if you have pets.
The stems and leaves contain calcium oxalate crystals, causing irritation, pain, and gastrointestinal symptoms if ingested. To keep them out of the way, opt for vining species like Philodendron hederaceum that you can hang well out of reach from prying paws.
Alocasias are harmful to pets due to their toxic leaves, causing symptoms when ingested.
Alocasias, commonly known as elephant ear plants, are toxic to pets for the same reason. The often large leaves are irresistible to curious pets, leading to similar symptoms when chewed.
Excess ingestion, although uncommon, can cause swelling that results in difficulty breathing – certainly something you want to avoid, no matter what pets you have. If you love the impressive leaves of alocasias in both pattern and color, calatheas are a great alternative that won’t harm your pets.
Beginner-friendly snake plants are harmful to pets due to contained saponins.
Snake plants are famous for their ease of care – one of the easiest houseplants for beginners to grow. Unfortunately, you may want to avoid these beauties if you have pets. And no, it’s not just because their leaves are pointy.
Snake plants contain saponins, chemicals produced by the plant to protect them from predators, pests, or fungal diseases. This defense mechanism can also affect unsuspecting pets, leading to nausea, vomiting, and a range of other symptoms. Keep them out of reach, or avoid them altogether if you have nimble pets.
These are resilient indoor succulents, but their toxicity makes them unsuitable for homes with pets.
Jade plants also appear on the list of most beginner-friendly houseplants. Thanks to their adaptability and resilience, they are also one of the easiest succulent plants to grow indoors. Sadly, pet owners probably won’t get to enjoy these benefits due to their toxicity.
Although the leaves look plump and quite delicious, ingestion causes a range of distressing symptoms in your pets, including vomiting, heart rate changes, and lethargy. There is also the potential for neurologic effects, like incoordination and depression, that may be harder to spot.
Aloe vera’s outer leaves pose a risk to pets due to saponins and spikiness.
The aloe, and aloe vera in particular, is known for its healing properties. The gel inside the leaves of this succulent plant is often used in beauty products or natural medicine, making it well worth growing inside your home. But if you have pets, you may want to think twice.
The inner gel of the aloe plant is not a concern here. Instead, it is the outer part of the leaf, which contains saponins, just like snake plants. The leaves are also slightly spiky – hopefully an indicator to your pets to stay away.
Begonia’s calcium oxalate content poses risks, especially its roots.
Begonias are known for their colorful, patterned leaves and adorable flowers, grown indoors and out. Begonia maculata is one of the more recognizable species indoors, but several begonia types will happily grow in indoor gardens.
Like philodendrons and other plants we’ll discuss later, begonias also contain calcium oxalates. They are soluble rather than insoluble, but the symptoms of ingestion are similar. The underground growth has the highest concentration, making them particularly dangerous to cats who love to dig in soil.
This plant poses pet risks due to oxalate crystals in its leaves and stems.
With a long list of stunning cultivars and impressive ability to handle neglect, it’s no wonder pothos are so popular as houseplants. These plants are often grown in hanging baskets, where the vines are allowed to cascade downwards. Keeping the leaves out of reach is even more important if you have pets.
Pothos leaves and stems also contain calcium oxalate crystals that lead to irritation, swelling, and pain if ingested. If you notice your pet pawing at their face (along with any unusual bite marks in your pothos), it’s best to take them to the vet.
Similar to philodendrons and pothos, syngonium contains toxic calcium oxalate crystals.
Arrowhead vines also contain calcium oxalate crystals, part of the same family as philodendron and pothos (Araceae). Despite their alluring patterned leaves and unique colors, it’s best to avoid keeping these plants indoors if you have pets.
If you do have to get rid of your syngonium, be careful how you do so. These plants are considered invasive in warmer regions, spreading rapidly and crowding out native plants. Don’t simply replant them outside – especially if you live in a tropical or subtropical climate.
This plant’s toxic milky sap poses risks to both pets and sensitive skin.
Catapulted to popularity at the start of the houseplant craze, most houseplant lovers have (or used to have) a fiddle leaf fig. These indoor trees are known for their massive fiddle-shaped leaves, growing to ceiling height in the right conditions.
If you’ve ever pruned or propagated your fiddle leaf, you will have noticed a milky sap coming from the stems. This sap is what makes the plant toxic to pets. It can even irritate sensitive skin, so many recommend wearing gloves when handling the plant.
Weeping figs, with delicate foliage prone to dropping, pose risks if ingested by pets.
Another member of the Ficus genus, weeping figs have a much more delicate look than fiddle leafs, with dense clusters of small leaves. Unfortunately, these leaves habitually drop off the plant at the first sign of environmental changes, leaving piles of foliage right in reach of curious pets.
Ingestion of weeping fig leaves or stems can lead to oral irritation, drooling, and gastrointestinal symptoms. Also, look out for any redness and itching on the skin to indicate contact with the sap of this plant.
If consumed, anthurium is hazardous to pets because it can cause irritation and breathing issues.
Anthuriums are wonderful decorative plants with unique spiked flowers and surrounding waxy leaves in vivid and eye-catching colors. These bright plants are just as irresistible to pets as they are to us, presenting potential problems in your indoor garden.
Part of the same plant family as many other problematic houseplants, ingesting any part of the anthurium plant causes irritation and difficulty breathing. They are commonly given as gifts, so keep them on a high shelf well away from your pets, or consider regifting them.
The toxic berries and thorny stems of Asparagus ferns are dangerous to animals if consumed.
Asparagus ferns have an airy, delicate look that you won’t find on many other houseplants. But this look can be quite deceiving, as these houseplants are unsafe for pets for multiple reasons.
If any part of the asparagus fern is ingested, it can lead to nausea, vomiting, and pain. This plant produces bright berries that may catch the eyes of curious pets, causing these problematic symptoms. But the stems are also dangerous, with small thorns that can cause serious irritation if touched or chewed.
Calcium oxalate crystals in peace lily leaves pose a threat to pets.
Peace lilies are common houseplants, often grown by beginners due to their tolerance of lower light levels. They are also great for gifting, much like anthuriums. Whether you’ve been gifted one of these plants or purchased one yourself, it’s important to keep it out of reach of your pets.
The glossy leaves and stark white inflorescence are quite attractive to some pets. Unfortunately, they also contain calcium oxalate crystals, leading to the same symptoms mentioned previously when ingested. If you have dogs, you can raise the plants off the ground using pot stands to keep them out of the way.
This houseplant can pose risks to pets if ingested, causing symptoms like swelling and pain.
Monsteras are commonly known as Swiss cheese plants after the characteristic holes in the leaves. But if you notice any holes that look more like a bite mark than fenestration, check your pets for symptoms of ingestion, including swelling, pawing at the face, and pain.
Young monsteras can be kept compact by restricting the size of the container and pruning often. However, these plants can grow quite large quickly in the right conditions, making keeping them away from your pets more challenging. Split larger plants into smaller pots to fit onto higher shelving and away from paws.
Choose Swedish ivy over English, which is toxic to pets.
English ivy is a wonderful climber for covering walls indoors, avoiding any of the invasive worries when planting outdoors. Unfortunately, it’s best to avoid them altogether if you have pets. The leaves contain several compounds that cause damage when ingested, including gastrointestinal issues and oral irritation.
If you want a similar cascading plant to keep your pets protected, try Swedish ivy instead. Although the leaves can cause an upset stomach if ingested, they are not considered toxic like true English ivy.
The plant has the potential to induce kidney problems and reduce calcium levels.
The scientific name of shamrock plants is a clue to what makes them toxic to pets. With a genus named Oxalis, it’s not surprising that the plant contains oxalic acid and oxalate salts. These compounds are dangerous to pets and livestock, although the bitter taste is often a good deterrent.
Oxalic acid causes a drop in calcium in the body. It can also form crystals in the kidneys that can result in kidney failure in severe cases. Talk to your vet immediately if you fear your pet has ingested any shamrock and is displaying unusual symptoms.
While not significantly hazardous, consuming a ZZ plant can lead to mild discomfort.
ZZ plants have gorgeous glossy leaves that look stunning wherever they are placed. The plants are also impressively tough, often labeled almost impossible to kill. I have a few that I have regularly forgotten about, and they continue to push out new bright leaves.
ZZ plants are considered toxic to pets, but only mildly so. Ingestion will cause some upset, but they are not the most dangerous plants on this list. However, I have found my dogs love to uproot and play with them for some reason, so keep a close eye on them and keep your ZZ out of reach if needed.
This popular plant contains calcium oxalate crystals in its leaves, which can harm animals.
Chinese evergreens (plants in the genus Aglaonema) are ideal for adding pops of color to your indoor garden. They are also known for their ability to thrive despite neglect, giving new gardeners little trouble. However, the leaves also contain calcium oxalate crystals, making them unsuitable for use around pets.
Like alocasias, calatheas are a safe addition that delivers the same aesthetic benefits. They are a little tougher to keep happy but well worth the effort and safety for your precious pets.
This houseplant poses pet risks due to ingestion, causing vomiting and weakness.
Dracaenas are structural houseplants that look stunning in minimalist interiors. They are low maintenance and not fussy about conditions, with several species growing to ceiling height over a few years. But this size and their stiff look also make them intriguing to curious pets.
Dracaena ingestion, especially of the stems, can cause a range of distressing issues, including vomiting and diarrhea. Severe ingestion will lead to weakness, lack of coordination, and lack of appetite. Since they are difficult to keep away from nimble pets, it’s best to stick to pet-safe alternatives.
The colorful leaves of dieffenbachia pose a danger to pets by causing throat swelling if eaten.
Dieffenbachia sport lush foliage with bright patterns on a structural stem. This thick stem is where most of the concern lies regarding pets. These plants are commonly known as dumb cane, referring to the swelling of the throat and subsequent inability to speak when the stem is chewed.
If your pets use this plant as a snack, you may see other symptoms like oral irritation, difficulty breathing or swallowing, and excessive drooling.
Bird of Paradise
This should be avoided around pets due to potential mild irritants in their leaves and stems.
Strelitzias have risen in popularity in recent years among members of the houseplant community, appreciated for the large and arching leaves. They also produce bright flowers in the shape of a bird, giving them their other common name: crane flower.
Despite this regal look, avoid the bird of paradise if you have pets. The leaves and stems contain hydrocyanic acid and tannins that can cause irritation and lethargy. The effects are usually mild, but it’s best to stay safe if you have active pets.
Sago palms are extremely toxic to pets due to cycasin, causing severe issues and potential fatality.
While bird of paradise ingestion can cause mild to moderate symptoms, sago palms fall on the opposite side of the danger spectrum. Minor ingestion can cause serious issues and may be lethal, especially for dogs.
Sago palms contain cycasin, a toxic compound that can result in liver failure when ingested. All parts of the plant are toxic, including the bright seeds. As they are so dangerous, keep these plants away from pets and look for pet-safe alternatives instead.
Pets may find indoor citrus trees tempting, yet eating them can cause stomach problems.
Pets typically stay away from citrus trees due to their strong scent. In fact, citrus fruit sprays or peels often discourage pets from interacting with other dangerous houseplants. But as pet owners know, stubborn pets will find a way around almost anything.
If you’re keeping a lemon tree indoors throughout the year or just over the cooler months, keep it protected from any pets. Although ingestion is unlikely, if pets eat parts of the plant, they may experience gastrointestinal upset and other common symptoms, particularly in cats.
This poses risks to pets due to their fruit and leaves containing oils causing digestive issues.
Continuing with citrus trees, calamondins are one of the best citrus trees to grow indoors due to their compact size. They produce tart little oranges that are great for making jams or marmalades. But, like lemon trees, they aren’t great for keeping around pets.
The leaves and fruits of calamondin oranges contain essential oils and psoralens that cause vomiting and diarrhea when ingested. The citrus scent is hopefully enough to deter them, but if not, rather replace your tree with something more pet-friendly.
Daffodils can harm pets if ingested due to their naturally occurring compounds like lycorine.
Next, we move to the bulbs commonly grown indoors, starting with daffodils. Smaller daffodil types are often kept in pots indoors and forced to flower over the cooler months, adding a pop of color before spring kicks in.
Unfortunately, daffodils are not suitable for keeping around pets. The plants contain lycorine and other compounds that cause gastrointestinal upset soon after ingestion, along with abdominal pain. These compounds are most concentrated in the bulbs, so be careful where you store your daffodil bulbs.
Hyacinths are beautiful yet dangerous for pets if ingested.
Hyacinth flowers are a stunning sight indoors and out, emerging in spikes of color that immediately catch the eye. They are also likely to catch your pets’ eye, causing a range of symptoms when ingested.
The compounds in the hyacinth plant’s bulb, leaves, and flowers cause irritation, vomiting, and pain. Again, the bulb is the most dangerous part, but all plant parts are problematic if chewed on.
The flowers pose severe risks to cats, causing kidney failure.
Although lilies are not common houseplants, I’ve included them on this list due to their severe impacts on cats. This can occur if the plant is kept indoors or if you have a few cut flowers in a vase.
Ingestion of any part of the plant (and in some cases, even the water in the vase of flowers) can cause gastrointestinal upset and decreased urination and dehydration associated with kidney failure. Keep cats far away from lilies and see a vet immediately if you are concerned.
Cyclamens boast colorful flowers for indoor gardens but pose toxicity risks to pets.
Cyclamens are famous for their adorable flowers in a range of impressive colors. The leaves also have ornamental interest when the plant is not in flower, making them a great addition to indoor gardens. Except, of course, if you have pets.
Mild cyclamen ingestion can cause drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea, much like other plants. However, more severe ingestion can lead to abnormal heart rhythms or seizures. The tubers are the most toxic part, but all plant parts are considered toxic.
Kalanchoe contains harmful glycosides for pets if eaten, causing heart, stomach, and nerve problems.
The many succulent kalanchoe species are often found in indoor gardens due to their tolerance of lower light levels compared to other succulents. They also flower reliably indoors, adding a wonderful pop of color.
But kalanchoe plants contain glycosides that are toxic to pets and potentially lethal if ingested in large amounts. The cardiac symptoms are the most concerning, but there are also gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms to watch out for.
Pets are at risk if they eat clivias because they contain alkaloids.
Clivias are less common as houseplants but can be grown indoors in cooler climates where temperatures drop too low to keep them outside. Their love of shady spots makes them suitable for indoor growth but should be avoided for those with pets.
Like other problematic plants, clivias contain alkaloids that can cause pain and irritation. More serious ingestion can impact blood pressure and heart rhythm, causing much more serious issues that require a quick visit to the vet.
A common holiday plant, amaryllis, poses risks for pets due to its toxic alkaloids.
Amaryllis plants are particularly popular around the holidays but can be kept as houseplants throughout the year. However, they are also part of the Amaryllidaceae (like clivias) and should be kept away from pets.
Containing the same alkaloids, amaryllis ingestion leads to gastrointestinal distress and difficulty breathing in severe cases. Choose a pet-safe holiday plant as a replacement instead.
Many popular houseplants are unfortunately unsuitable for keeping around curious pets. But it’s not the end of the world – many wonderful alternatives will satisfy houseplant lovers.