Harmful House Plants

June 17, 2019

21 common house plants that can be harmful for your dog

 

 

House plants can be a wonderful way to bring colour and life to your home, but it is worth noting that some can be harmful or even toxic to your pet pooch. In this blog we will list just a few common plants to be aware of, especially if you have a curious puppy or dog that might be prone to nibbling on them!  

 

1. Aloe Vera

 

Aloe vera is a tricky one, as there are aloe products designed for dogs that are perfectly safe. However, these will have no trace of the latex, an inner layer of white/ yellow sap inside the plant. This layer is toxic to dogs, which means they should not be allowed to consume any of the whole plant and products must be labelled pet friendly before you let your dog near them.

 

Toxicity - moderate to serious

 

Reactions - vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, depression and urinary changes. If consumed in large amounts it can cause tremors - this is rare though. 

 

2. Asparagus Fern

 

 

The toxic element of this plant is sapogenin, a steriod found in a variety of plants. The berries are the main source of this chemical. The sap of the plant can cause skin issues also. 

 

Toxicity - moderate

 

Reactions - vomiting, diarrhoea and/or abdominal pain, allergic dermatitis (skin inflammation) on repeated exposure to the plant sap

 

3. Begonia

 

 

Begonia contains two toxic agents in the tuberous parts of the plant - calcium oxalates and cucurbitacin B. The first, contains needle like crystals that pierce the soft skin of the mouth and intestines when consumed by your dog. The result is usually instantaneous pain, which typically stops dogs from eating a toxic amount, but the swelling caused by the crystals can cause asphyxiation or severe intestinal damage if not treated. The crystals generally cause an intense burning of the mouth and swelling of the throat that can make swallowing difficult. Symptoms can occur up to 2 weeks after consumption. 

 

Toxicity - moderate to serious

 

Reactions - vomiting, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, burning of the mouth and irritation of the tongue, mouth and lips

 

4. Chrysanthemum

 

Chrysanthemums (mums or daisies) contain a natural insecticide called Permethrin which is toxic to dogs. Permethrin is a central nervous system poison – a neurotoxin.

 

Toxicity - moderate 

 

Reactions - drooling, coughing, clearing the throat, vomiting, lack of appetite, agitation, shaking and dermatitis

 

5. Cyclamen (Sowbread Plant)

 

Cyclamen contains triterpenoid saponins, that are extremely irritating and can cause serious reactions, especially if the plant tubers are consumed where the highest concentration is. 

 

NB: Saponins are produced by a wide variety of plants. They  are known for their ability to foam like soap or detergent. Not all saponins are dangerous for your dog. Some produce only mild reactions (e.g. Poinsettia), while others can cause severe problems (e.g. Cyclamens). Saponins also tend to have a bitter taste which may deter your dog from consuming enough of the plant to do any real damage.

 

Toxicity - serious

 

Reactions - increased salivation (drooling), vomiting, diarrhoea, heart rhythm abnormalities, trouble breathing, collapse, seizures and death

 

6. Daffodils 

Daffodils, a beautiful addition to a home in spring, can unfortunately be problematic for your dog due to the toxin lycorine. The bulbs are the most dangerous part as they have the highest concentration of this and also calcium oxalates (see Begonia), but actually the whole plant is not safe.  Skin exposure can cause inflammation issues, burning, itching or rashes. 

 

Toxicity - moderate

 

Reactions - vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pain, and even heartbeat irregularities, intense pain in the mouth, tongue, lips, and throat, trouble swallowing, respiratory distress

 

7. Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane)

 

 

Dieffenbachia contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals in all parts of the part (see Begonia). 

 

Toxicity - moderate to serious

 

Reactions - cardiac arrhythmia, diarrhoea, dilated eyes, difficulty swallowing, excessive drooling, hoarse barking, laboured breathing, loss of appetite, numbness of exposed area, pawing at the face or mouth, swelling of the tongue and lips, vocalisation and vomiting

 

8. Dracaena Fragrans (Corn Plant)

 

 

Dracaenas contain saponins (see Cyclamen).

 

Toxicity - moderate to serious

 

Reactions - vomiting (possibly with blood), diarrhoea, drooling, stomach irritation, intestinal irritation, anorexia, depression, ataxia, weakness, oral irritation can occur, especially on the tongue and lips, increased salivation, difficulty swallowing, and vomiting

 

9. English ivy

 

English ivy has mild toxins throughout the plant called sapogenin combined with polyacetylene compounds, mostly concentrated in the leaves. These if ingested can cause gastrointestinal distress, frequent exposure to the sap can cause dermatitis. 

 

Toxicity - moderate 

 

Reactions - abdominal pain, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, symptoms of dermal reaction (blistering, redness, swelling)

 

10. Eucalyptus

 

 

The eucalyptus plant, also known as cineole, is commonly used in products such as Listerine and Vicks VapoRub. It is toxic when undiluted, but diluted has been used as antiseptic and to treat skin disorders, bad breath, coughs, and congestion for centuries. However, if consumed by your dog, diluted or not, can cause both gastrointestinal and neurological damage. Symptoms may sometimes be delayed for a few hours, but it is important to get your dog straight to the vet if they consume any part of the plant, or product made from it. 

  

Toxicity - serious 

 

Reactions - gastrointestinal discomfort, vomiting, and diarrhoea, depression, confusion, seizures, dilated eyes, difficulty swallowing, excessive drooling, lethargy, loss of appetite, low blood pressure, muscle weakness, pawing at mouth (burning in mouth), rapid or shallow breathing, rapid or weakened heart rate, slowed reflexes, wheezing, itching, redness, and swelling of the exposed skin

 

11. Ficus benjamina (Weeping fig tree)

 

 

Ficus as a genus make for popular houseplants generally but all of them can be toxic to dogs. The leaves of a ficus contain sap that is very irritating either ingested or exposed to skin, however, consuming any part of the plant can cause poisoning.

 

Ficus benjamina is probably one of the most popular ficus plant varieties, and it can cause serious side effects if consumed by your dog. It has two poisonous chemicals, including ficusin (which can cause photo dermatitis - skin reactions to UV light causing rashes & blistering), and ficun (a proteolytic enzyme that destroys the dog's own body proteins, causing issues with tissue repair, enzymes and hormone creation,  and their ability to build muscle and bone). 

 

Toxicity - serious

 

Reactions - abdominal pain, agitation, diarrhoea, drooling, loss of appetite, mouth pain, pawing at the face, redness to the skin, skin inflammation, photo dermatitis, decline in protein production, and vomiting

 

12. Hyacinth

 

 

Hyacinth can cause issues in humans if the dust from the bulbs is inhaled as it can cause irritation to your lungs or asthma attacks. They are also problematic for dogs too if inhaled, consumed or exposed topically. All of the plant is poisonous but the bulbs hold the highest concentration. Instant pain can occur from the toxic chemical calcium oxalate crystals (see Begonia). 
 

Toxicity - moderate to serious

 

Reactions - abdominal pain, abnormal breathing, cardiac arrhythmias, convulsions, diarrhoea, drooling, drowsiness, increased heart rate, low blood pressure, nausea, seizures, tremors, vomiting, coughing, shortness of breath, spasms, wheezing, blisters, inflammation, itching and redness

 

13. Crassula Ovata Convuluta - (Jade plant or Money tree)

 

 

Jade plants are toxic to dogs, but the toxic element is still unknown. Mostly symptoms are mild but in rare events, consumption of the plant has caused more serious side effects. 

 

Toxicity - mild to moderate

 

Reactions - vomiting, abdominal pain, lethargy, weakness, depression, aggression, hiding, slow heart rate (rare), impaired muscle movement (rare), and convulsions (rare)

 

14. Sansevieria (Mother in law's tongue)

 

 

Sansevieria contains the toxin saponins in both of the leaves and flowers and may cause gastrointestinal upset (see Cyclamen).

 

Toxicity - mild to moderate

 

Reactions - drooling, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, ruptured red blood cells

 

15. Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

 

Peace lilies, are not actually a part of the real lily family, but they are considered toxic for dogs. They contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals in all parts of the plant (see Begonia).

 

Toxicity - moderate to serious

 

Reactions - cardiac arrhythmia, diarrhoea, dilated eyes, difficulty swallowing, excessive drooling, hoarse barking, laboured breathing, loss of appetite, numbness of exposed area, pawing at the face or mouth, swelling of the tongue and lips, vocalisation and vomiting

 

16. Lilium (Lily)

 

 

Although not commonly a house plant, lilies can frequently be used as house decorations in cut flower arrangements. Lilies are considered one of the most poisonous types of flower for dogs, but vary depending on type of Lily. The whole plant is toxic due to the chemical colchicine, but consumption of lily tubers (with the highest concentration) has been known to be fatal to dogs, or at the very least cause organ failure and other serious reactions. If you dog consumes any part of a lily, take them to a vet immediately to have better chances of survival. 

 

Toxicity - serious 

 

Reactions - death, hiding, kidney failure (swollen abdomen - fluid retention, unusual urination - marked increase or decrease), liver failure (abdominal pain, fatigue, loss of appetite, swollen abdomen, vomiting, yellow skin and eyes), shock, diarrhoea, dehydration (dark urine,  dry skin, extreme thirst, loss of skin elasticity, reduced urination, sleepiness, sunken eyes), excessive drooling, seizures, lethargy, redness of the eyes, mouth, and tongue 

 

17. Pelargonium (Geranium)

 

 

Pelargoniums are considered toxic to dogs. They contain low levels of geraniol, a primary ingredient in essential oils such as citronella and rose oil. This is a skin irritant and harmful to eyes. They also contain low levels of linalool, which is known to cause eczema and allergic reaction. Usually reactions are mild but individual responses could show to be more severe. 

 

Toxicity - mild to moderate

 

Reactions - irritation around the mouth, vomiting, poor appetite (anorexia), depression, dermatitis on repeat contact topically

 

 

18. Philodendron 

 

 

The Philodendron family contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals in all parts of the part (see Begonia). 
 

Toxicity - moderate to serious

 

Reactions - cardiac arrhythmia, diarrhoea, dilated eyes, difficulty swallowing, excessive drooling, hoarse barking, laboured breathing, loss of appetite, numbness of exposed area, pawing at the face or mouth, swelling of the tongue and lips, vocalisation and vomiting

 

19. Poinsettia

 

 

Poinsettia are often considered poisonous for your dog, and warnings are giving around Christmas when they are most popular. However, they are only mildly toxic, so serious side effects are not common. They contain a white sap containing chemicals diterpenoid euphorbol esters and saponins (see Cyclamen). 

 

Toxicity - mild 

 

Reactions - drooling, licking lips, vomiting, diarrhoea, skin irritation (including redness, swelling, and itchiness) and eye irritation

 

 

20. Tulips

 

 

Tulips contain toxic glycosides that inhibit protein synthesis in the dog's body. They can be found throughout the whole plant, but mostly concentrated in the bulbs. Consumption of this plant can be fatal, so if your dog eats any part take them to the vet immediately.  
 

Toxicity - serious

 

Reactions - abdominal pain, cardiac arrhythmias, coma, depression, diarrhoea, difficulty breathing, dizziness, excessive drooling, lethargy, seizures, sudden death, tremors, and vomiting

 

 

 

21. Zamioculas Zamiifolia (Zanzibar gem or ZZ plant)

 

Zamioculcas plants are toxic to dogs, insoluble calcium oxalate crystals in all parts of the part (see Begonia). 

 

Toxicity - moderate to serious

 

Reactions - cardiac arrhythmia, diarrhoea, dilated eyes, difficulty swallowing, excessive drooling, hoarse barking, laboured breathing, loss of appetite, numbness of exposed area, pawing at the face or mouth, swelling of the tongue and lips, vocalisation and vomiting

 

 

For an extensive list of all plants that are harmful for your dog, see here: The Dog's Trust pdf 

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