Snake plants (Dracaena trifasciata) are a popular houseplant known for their tough, long, succulent, grass-like foliage and easy maintenance. The snake plant is often covered in unique striping or varied tones, similar to that of snake markings. They are known to be tolerant of neglect, making them an excellent choice for beginner houseplant collectors. These plants may also be called mother-in-law’s tongue, golden bird’s nest, or viper’s bowstring hemp.
Although these plants are very popular for both their unique looks and their hardy nature, many people wonder if it is safe to keep these plants in a home with dogs. Are snake plants toxic to dogs? Unfortunately, yes. According to the ASPCA, snake plants are considered toxic and should be kept away from dogs as well as cats.
Snake plants are considered mildly to moderately toxic to dogs. They contain saponins, which cause hypersalivation, dilated pupils and gastrointestinal distress. It is found in the leaves of the snake plant, and it is most harmful when ingested in large quantities. Ingesting small amounts usually results in less severe symptoms, while ingesting large amounts may be more serious.
Symptoms of Snake Plant Poisoning in Dogs
Common symptoms of snake plant poisoning include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Watch for any signs that your dog is acting out of the ordinary or that he or she is experiencing gastrointestinal distress.
If you suspect that your dog has ingested part of your snake plant, contact your vet or emergency animal hospital immediately. Do not induce vomiting unless instructed to by a professional. If possible, identify the variety of snake plant that was ingested, or bring in a picture or piece of the plant for the vet to see. In the meantime, keep a close eye on your dog and be sure to keep him or her from ingesting any more of the plant.
How to Prevent Your Dog From Eating Your Snake Plant
The snake plant’s hardy nature and ability to thrive in low-light environments mean it’s well-suited for many locations in the home. Therefore, a great way to keep your dog from eating your snake plant is to move it to an area that the dog cannot reach, such as on a high shelf. You could also move the plant to a room that your dog is not allowed to enter. If your furry friend is known for getting into trouble and you are concerned about him still finding a way to munch on your snake plant, you may wish to give the plant to a friend.
Nontoxic Alternatives to Snake Plants
Sometimes the best way to prevent your dog from consuming a toxic houseplant is by buying nontoxic plants. Even if curiosity gets the better of your dog and he does treat your houseplants like a snack, there is no harm done—except to the plant itself. Here are some non-toxic plants for pets that make great alternatives to a snake plant.
- Cast Iron Plant: These unique, tall plants sport similar sword-like foliage as snake plants, but are nontoxic to dogs. They also thrive in low-to-medium light and are known for being just as hardy and difficult to kill. This makes the cast iron plant a perfect alternative.
- Ponytail Palm: These plants are known for their large, round trunks and cascading grass-like foliage. They are drought-tolerant and do very well with minimum care and maintenance.
- Spider Plant: Another grass-like, spiky-foliage houseplant, spider plants are a very popular nontoxic plant. Their yellow and green striped leaves have a similar color pattern as the snake plant. They are most famous for their dangling, spider-like offshoots, or baby spider plants. This unique feature makes them look lovely when hung from the ceiling or set on a high shelf.
- Zebra Calathea: This plant offers striking zebra-like striped foliage and can reach two to three feet tall. Although this plant needs more water and humidity, it offers eye-catching foliage that makes a great replacement for the striped foliage of the snake plant.
Snake Plant: A Forgiving, Low-Maintenance Houseplant. Pennsylvania State University Extension.
Snake plant. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Dracaena trifasciata. North Carolina State University Extension.
Is It Ever Safe to Induce Vomiting? American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.