Plants That Are Poisonous to Pets

The Sago Palm, lethal to pets.
The Sago Palm, lethal to pets.
The Kalanchoe plant, available in many different colors.
The Kalanchoe plant, available in many different colors.
The Schleffera plant.
The Schleffera plant.
Just one type of lily.
Just one type of lily.

These plants may look pretty, but beware!

Any of us who own a pet and truly cherish that pet know that there are so many dangers lurking out there for them. Many dangers are in our homes and can vary from medications (both human and veterinary), insecticides, human food (grapes and chocolate are especially harmful to dogs and cats), household cleaners....the list goes on and on. But some of the most dangerous items are those items right under our noses....our household plants and shrubbery. These plants may look beautiful, but many pose serious threats to our furry companions. Some may cause low-grade reactions and may be able to be treated at home, while others can be deadly. Let's take a look at some of the worst offenders:-

  • Sago Palm - this plant is one of the most dangerous around for pets. Also known as the Coontie Palm, Cardboard Palm, cycads, and zamias, it causes symptoms ranging from vomiting, increased thirst, bruising, liver damage, liver failure, and death. Once a pet eats just a small part of the leaves or other part of the plant, the effects are pretty much irreversible. If you have pets, or have friends who visit with pets, avoid this plant completely.
  • Azalea - Also known as Rosebay or Rhododendron, this plant can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyper-salivation, weakness, coma, cardiovascular collapse and death. Even ingestion of a few leaves can cause serious problems. Symptoms occur a few hours after ingestion and include among other things, loss of appetite, loss of coordination and frequent bowel movements. Eventually the animal will become idle for two or more days; sometimes improvements are seen but more often than not the animal will go into a coma and pass away. Again, if you have animals near, stay away from this plant too.
  • Lilies - Strangely enough, cats are the only species known to be affected by lilies. This would include all lilies (Stargazer Lily, Japanese Show Lily, Red Lily, Asian Lily, Tiger Lily, Easter Lily, Wood Lily, Rubrum Lily, etc.). Symptoms can include vomiting, lethargy and kidney failure. Death is also a very possible outcome. So no matter how much you love your lilies at Easter, it might be best to pass them by.
  • Kalanchoe - Also known as Mother-In-Law-Plant (cheeky!), Devil's Backbone, Chandelier Plant, and Mother of Millions, the Kalanchoe plant is poisonous to both cats and dogs and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abnormal heart rhythms. They are many other plants just as colorful and not dangerous to our four legged friends!
  • Schefflera - The Schefflera tree, also known as the Umbrella Tree, Australian Ivy Palm, Octopus Tree, and Starleaf, is dangerous to both cats and dogs. It can cause intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue; excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty in swallowing.

You may be wondering, where is the Pointsettia? Well, although it can be irritating to the mouth and stomach and can sometimes cause vomiting, the Pointsettia is now thought to be generally overrated in toxicity. My cat Magic just loves to munch on the offspring shoots of one of our spider plants. He often vomits it up, purely because I think he just eats too much. I ended up moving the spider plant high up on a shelf. I later found out that the spider plant is just as good as catnip to a cat, perhaps even better. Who knew! No wonder he goes after it so much!

Remember, it's not just your plants in your house and garden that may be dangerous to your pets, it's also what you put on them. Things like cocoa mulch are a real no-no. Chocolate is dangerous to both cats and dogs and since cocoa mulch has real cocoa in it, this could pose a VERY serious problem to your pets. Also certain types of fertilizer can cause serious gastrointestinal problems. Check out for all types of pet safe products, from slug killer to yard and garden insect killers. Also citronella candles are great for keeping mosquitoes away, but if ingested, can cause vomiting and diarrhea.  It would be best to look for an alternative.

There are so many plants which may cause an adverse reaction in your pet, but those listed above are the really serious ones to look out for.  The ASPCA is a great place to find information on these items; also, the ASPCA has an iPhone application called Pet Safe which lists all known plants which may cause harm to your pet, as well as having a direct line to Poison Control.  It costs $2.99, which in my mind is a small price to pay for peace of mind.

Remember, if you suspect your pet has eaten anything odd, don't wait!  Call your veterinarian or Poison Control (888-426-4435) immediately.  Please be aware that the Poison Control charge $65 for a consultation fee.  You will need to have some information ready, such as what type of animal and age, symptoms, and what the animal ingested.  Check out for more information.  Remember, time is of the essence!  Please don't wait until it is too late. 

Luckily, besides the spider plants, I DO NOT have a green thumb and only keep three plants, all of which are kept up high.  But I will always try to be aware of these plants which, through no fault of their own, are enemies of our pets.  You just never know what these animals will get into, and my pets mean too much to me to take chances.

More by this Author

Comments 2 comments

Ryan-Palmsy profile image

Ryan-Palmsy 4 years ago from In a Galaxy far, far away

Useful advice, voted up :)

kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

Hello ckinnear,

This is an excellent piece of writing. Amazing in every aspect of writing.

I loved every word--and the lay-out was superb.

Voted up and all the choices because you deserve it.

You have such a gift for writing. Just keep writing and good things are bound to happen to you.

I cordially invite you to read one or two of my hubs, and be one of my followers.

That would make my day.

I am so honored to meet you.


Kenneth Avery, Hamilton, Alabama

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article