If you have pets in the house, you likely think of them and treat them like members of the family. Because both dogs and cats love to gnaw at and chew on plants, it’s important to make sure whatever you grow both inside and out of the house is non-toxic. If you have never taken stock of your houseplants before, the following primer is an excellent place to start.
Unsafe Under Any Circumstances
There are quite a few plants that are an absolute non-starter for cats and dogs. The list, in fact, is quite long. For dogs, amongst the most common houseplants that you need to either keep out of their reach or get rid of entirely are: Japanese peace lilies, aloe vera, philodendron, elephant ear, corn plants, English ivy, jade, devil’s ivy, and asparagus fern. Also, Madagascar dragon trees thrive in offices and make your home look bright and tropical, but they can be lethal to both cats and dogs. If you live in areas where foxtail is common, make sure none of it grows freely in your yard. It can be deadly if ingested. If they’re exposed, check their skin for burs immediately and remove them.
Cats, who love the flavor of just about anything in soil or a vase, should generally stay away from perennials like daffodils, tulips, and lilies. Also, keep your felines away from oleander, some varieties of palm fronds, dumb cane (also a no-no for pups), azaleas, and crocus. As a precaution, if you have any questions about the plants in your house or yard, keep them out of reach or covered and contact your vet immediately. Better safe than sorry, right?
Safe and Sound Plants for Pets
While you probably don’t want any of your plants to get decimated by the jaws of your fur baby, whatever you have in the house should still be safe if and when they get a hold of those delicious leaves. Spider plants are not only easy to grow, but they’re also non-toxic for both cats and dogs. Aracea palms are great in low-light environments and don’t pose any threat to your critters. Boston ferns are colorful, traditional and, yay, also safe!
Echeveria may sound exotic, but this earthy-looking succulent with burgundy-tipped leaves will look familiar as soon as you see it. Like cacti, succulents are very hearty and don’t need much water. Ponytail palms are canopy plants, so they do well with either direct sun or indirect light. Also, if you have one of those cats that manages to squeeze onto the two available inches of window sill where it can get a mouthful, ponytail palms don’t pose any threat.
What Plants are Healthy for Pets?
It’s true that while there are quite a few dangerous plants to keep around the home, there are also many that are not only safe, they’re beneficial. There’s a reason that cats, for instance, love catnip so much. A member of the mint family, catnip settles their tummies. If you grow one in a plant box and keep the fresh stuff around, clip off a branch once or twice a week and let them have at it. You can also tear up the leaves and sprinkle some in their food to help them work out those hairballs. Be forewarned that if you plant any outside, your yard will soon become the favored rolling spot for every cat in the neighborhood.
Since dogs typically spend a lot of time in the yard and can get their noses into just about anything, you may as well foster plants that are both non-toxic and healthy. Milk thistle is easy to grow in most climates and is wonderful for the livers of both humans and K9s. Wheat grass and barley grass is a good munching plant for dogs and cats alike. Grow a separate patch in the backyard and let them at it as soon as it matures.
What to Do In Case of Accidental Ingestion?
Sometimes, accidents happen, or you don’t know that one of your plants is poisonous for your pet until it’s too late. If you suspect that your cat or dog has eaten something toxic, the common symptoms to look for are excessive vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite and lethargy. To be on the safe side, if you’re concerned for any reason, call your vet immediately.
Having healthy houseplants around is beneficial for both man and beast. Take a few minutes to do a quick inventory of what you have growing indoors and in the yard to make sure that it’s all non-toxic. Once you do, you can relax in the knowledge that all of your two and four-footed family members are safe and happy.