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Houseplants & Dogs: Toxic Dangers & Safe Alternatives

Many people think houseplants and dogs don’t mix — but, in fact, they can! The key is knowing what flowers and greenery are safe. Unfortunately, because there are many plants poisonous to dogs, it’s important to understand which types to avoid if you’re going to protect your pooch. At the same time, there’s no reason to exclude vegetation altogether, given that there are a variety of safe houseplants for dogs available.  

To help you navigate the difference between toxic and harmless varieties, as well as to give you confidence that your pet is safe while you enjoy a bit of nature inside, keep reading. Here’s a look at some specific plants that are toxic to dogs, how they can harm your pets and safer alternatives to consider. 

Examples of possible toxic greenery 

If you’re thinking about adding any of the following to your household, for example, stop! These are some of the most popular houseplants that are not safe for dogs: 

  • Aloe: While aloe is pretty, easy to maintain and known for the skin-soothing gel it contains, it’s toxic to dogs and cats. 

  • Philodendron: Recognized for their long vines and charming heart-shaped leaves, philodendrons are popular flora, but their insoluble calcium oxalate crystals can irritate a dog’s mouth and lips. 

  • English ivy: Even though ivy purifies the air and is a low-maintenance plant option, it can cause vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea in canines.   

  • Eucalyptus: The soothing, calming scent of eucalyptus makes it a natural fit in bathrooms and bedrooms, but it’s not safe for homes with pets.  

  • Jade: This rubber plant known for being hard to kill is sadly toxic to animal companions. It can cause vomiting, a slowed heart rate and depression.  

  • Lily of the valley: Even small exposure to the sweet-smelling and delicate lily of the valley can harm a dog. Highly toxic to canines, this plant can lead to vomiting, low blood pressure, disorientation, seizures or a coma.  

  • Tulips: These colorful springtime blooms are harmful to dogs, causing anything from an upset stomach to loss of appetite.  

  • Begonia: Because begonias do well even in low-light environments, they’re a favorite houseplant for many. The problem for pet parents, however, is that these plants are toxic to animals. 

  • Golden pothos: Easy to grow, the leafy vines of the golden pothos can cause oral irritation and vomiting for dogs and cats. 

  • Fig tree: Fig trees, also known as weeping figs or Indian rubber plants, can cause dermal or gastrointestinal pain for pets. 

  • Lemon tree: There’s nothing like a citrus tree to brighten a room, but pet parents should steer clear of this vegetation that could mean serious gastrointestinal and skin issues for animals. 

Dangers of owning houseplants when you have a dog 

If you have a possibly dangerous flower or shrub in your home and your dog gets into it, what can happen? As some of the examples above illustrate, clinical signs of toxicity can vary. However, they may include excess salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, lethargy, seizures, liver failure or even death. 

Safer alternatives 

Thankfully, there are many ways to utilize nature in a home, even without including any of the plants listed above. You could stick to fake or plastic greenery, for example, removing any of the concerns about plant toxicity. You could keep flora away from pet access or in parts of the home where your dog doesn’t go.  

There are also a variety of non-toxic plant types totally safe for canines. Examples include prayer, spider, money (hard to kill) or cast-iron plants (good for low light), as well as Boston ferns (happy in cool temperatures, high humidity and indirect light). If you’d prefer a blooming variety, you could also try African violets or orchids, which are pet friendly. 

While there are many plants poisonous to dogs that could cause serious symptoms, that doesn’t mean there are no ways to get some green in your home. Use fake greenery, keep plants away from your animal companions or stick only to the safe varieties that cannot cause harm. Use the information above to keep your pets safe and home looking beautiful.

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