When you share your home with a dog, it’s important to know that some indoor plants are poisonous to dogs. Some dangerous plants for dogs might lead to mild illness and discomfort, while others can be quite serious and even fatal.
Since we’ve been spending more time at home during the pandemic, many people have started adding houseplants to their living spaces. But this led to a spike in dogs getting sick: The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center saw a 40% increase in calls related to plants in 2020 when compared to 2019, according to Tina Wismer, DVM, Senior Director of Toxicology at the center.
Read on to learn some common toxic plants for dogs, symptoms to look for, and when to seek help from a poison hotline or your veterinarian.
15 Poisonous Houseplants for Dogs
#1 – Sago Palm
When you think of plants poisonous to dogs, the sago palm belongs at the top of the list. Since it looks like a tiny tropical palm tree, the sago palm is a popular ornamental houseplant – but it is the most dangerous plant for dogs (and is toxic to all pets!).
While the seeds (also called “nuts”) contain the largest amount of toxins, every part of this plant is poisonous. Dogs who ingest sago palm can suffer from vomiting, diarrhea, internal bleeding, seizures, liver damage, liver failure, and death. Head to the animal hospital ASAP if you suspect your dog has eaten sago palm.
#2 – Calla Lilies
Calla lilies – which aren’t actually lilies – look like stunning trumpets and are easy to care for, but they are toxic to dogs (as well as cats – see our list of holiday plants dangerous to cats to help keep your feline family members safe).
Ingesting a calla lily can cause an intense burning sensation in the mouth, tongue, and lips, plus excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.
#3 – Scented Geranium
The various types of scented geraniums – like rose, apple, lemon, and strawberry – boast dainty flowers and intoxicating aromas. But buyer beware: their essential oils can cause GI upset, as well as muscle weakness, ataxia (abnormal, uncoordinated movement), and low body temperature.
Geraniums are often a popular choice for outdoor gardens, so keep this in mind if you’ve recently moved somewhere with a yard. You might want to check out our list of 12 common poisonous garden plants for dogs.
#4 – Aloe
Aloe is a handy houseplant to keep since the gel inside is so soothing to treat burns, but it should be up high and out of reach from dogs. While the gel is safe, the skin is toxic. Dogs who ingest it can suffer from lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea.
#5 – Asparagus Fern
The asparagus fern, also called “lace fern” thanks to its lacy leaves, is a common houseplant that also might sneak into your home as part of a bouquet. It can cause skin irritation in dogs and if they eat the berries, they’ll likely suffer symptoms of gastric upset like vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
#6 – Devil’s Ivy
Devil’s ivy lives up to its name. This tropical vine plant, which thrives even without much natural light, causes pain and swelling in his mouth, tongue, and lip. Dogs may start excessively drooling, vomiting, and in rare cases, have difficulty swallowing due to swelling in the mouth. It’s also known as “pothos.”
#7 – Cyclamen
Speaking of particularly poisonous houseplants for dogs, cyclamen (also called sowbread) sports vivid flowers – and contains toxic terpenoid saponins. Eating any part of the plant can lead to drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea in dogs. If they eat the tubers (the ball above the roots), they can develop heart issues like an abnormal rate and rhythm, experience seizures, and even die.
#8 – English Ivy
English ivy, also called branching ivy and sweetheart ivy, looks nice cascading out of a pot and down a bookcase or shelf. But those green leaves spell trouble for your dog, even more than the berries. Toxicity symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting (potentially with blood), and excessive drooling.
#9 – Desert Rose
The bright, inviting desert rose is a ruse for dog lovers. This succulent contains cardiac glycoside, so if a dog licks or bites into it, there could be dire consequences ranging from vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, and depression to an irregular heartbeat – and even death.
#10 – Jade Plant
Also called a “rubber plant,” the jade plant is easy to care for – but your dog won’t be if she ingests it. You’ll likely see vomiting, depression, and lack of coordination.
#11 – Caladium
Caladium is known by many names: angel wings, seagull, mother-in-Law plant, elephant ear, fancy-leaved caladium, heart of Jesus, pink cloud, stoplight, and Texas wonder. But you just need to know it’s part of the devilish Aranceae family, which is full of toxic plants for dogs.
Chewing or biting its large, red-veined leaves can cause pain and irritation in the mouth, along with drooling, decreased appetite, and vomiting. In extreme cases, it can cause difficulty breathing.
#12 – Peace Lily
Eating a Peace Lily is not a peaceful experience. As a member of the troublesome Araceae family, its toxic insoluble calcium oxalates lead to intense stinging and burning in the lips, tongue, mouth, and throat. Your dog may start excessively drooling and vomiting and have difficulty swallowing.
Though the distinctive white leaf that hoods delicate flowers that look like baby corn might be a pretty addition to a desk, the dog sleeping at your feet is even more beautiful. So give this one a miss!
#13 – Dumb Cane
Don’t be fooled by the attractive speckled leaves of dumb cane (aka Dieffenbachia), which is also in the Araceae family. Dogs who bite into this toxic plant for dogs will find their mouth and gastrointestinal tract burning. Look for drooling, pawing at their mouth, and vomiting. In rare instances, they can have trouble breathing.
#14 – Oleander
With its vibrant pink, white, red, or yellow flowers, Oleander is a popular landscaping plant that’s found it’s way indoors as well. However, it contains cardiac glycosides that can cause heart problems like changes in heart rate and rhythm. Other clinical signs include drooling, abdominal pain, diarrhea, colic, depression…and death.
It’s worth noting that cardiac glycosides are also found in lily of the valley, another common landscaping plant that’s gaining popularity as an indoor plant as well. Steer clear of this, too.
#15 – Castor Bean
Last but not least… the castor bean sounds innocuous and its seeds are sometimes found in jewelry, but the beans (aka seeds) are highly toxic. Just eating an ounce of seeds – which contain the toxin ricin – can be lethal. It can cause severe stomach upset, fever, weakness, tremors, liver failure, coma, and death. Keep away from dogs!
When to Seek Help for Toxicity in Dogs
There are so many different plants poisonous to dogs – both indoors and outdoors – that it can be hard to stay on top of which greenery to choose.
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center maintains a comprehensive list of plants that are toxic (and non-toxic) to dogs, cats, and horses.
However, when in doubt, it’s best to avoid temptation by keeping indoor plants out of reach.
“Eating any plant can cause stomach upset including vomiting and diarrhea in pets,” Dr. Wismer cautioned.
If you see blood in your dog’s vomit or feces – or notice any of the other symptoms described above – it’s always critically important to seek immediate veterinary help.
Whenever your dog eats a dangerous plant, take note of the amount they ingested and contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435. (Note: a consultation fee may apply.) The hotline is open 24 hours every day of the year.
Ultimately, houseplants can liven up a room, but it’s important to choose wisely to protect our precious pets from plants poisonous to dogs. Since most puppies and many dogs are chewers who investigate their environment with their mouths, simply avoiding certain toxic plants for dogs can be a lifesaver.
Still, accidents happen. Has your dog ever eaten a plant they shouldn’t have? Did they need to see a veterinarian? Please let us know in the comments below!
About the Author: Award-winning journalist Jen Reeder is a self-proclaimed dog nut and former president of the Dog Writers Association of America. She writes bios of adoptable dogs and cats as a volunteer for the nonprofit PawsCo. Jen works from her home office in Colorado, which she shares with her husband and their beloved rescue dogs, Rio and Peach.