Five Houseplants That Will Hurt Your Pets

dumb cane plant

The Spruce / Krystal Slagle 

In This Article

Lots of houseplant gardeners have watched their prized plants get destroyed by hungry dogs and cats—anyone who’s ever lost a specimen to their dog knows how infuriating it can be. But not only is it bad for your plant collection, it can be fatal for your pets, and few things are more devastating for families than to see their pet killed in such a preventable mistake.

The following houseplants do offer lots of advantages and are commonly grown by many gardeners, but they are poisonous to your animals and if you keep pets you should exercise caution. Should you choose to cultivate these plants in your home, make sure and keep them out of the reach of anything furry and you’ll keep your animals safe.

Dieffenbachia

Commonly known as dumb canes, diffenbachia plants are wonderfully variegated with green and white patterns all over their large leaves. There are several different cultivars of diffenbachia, including D. picta (“Camilla”) and D. amoena (“Tropic Snow”), and they’re not overly difficult to grow. These hardy plants can thrive with only minimal treatment—the most important thing is to keep them in warm and humid conditions.

Despite their advantages, diffenbachias can cause pets a lot of grief. Like many plants, they contain calcium oxalate, which exists in varying concentrations across the entire plant kingdom. However, in diffenbachia, the chemical forms microscopic (but razor-sharp) crystals called raphides that can rip apart and irritate tissues in the mouth. The crystals cause irritation and swelling around pets’ mouths if ingested, along with vomiting and lots of pain. Though they shouldn’t be deadly, diffenbachias can cause your pet intense discomfort. If you choose to keep these plants in your home, make sure to keep them far away from your pet.

closeup of a dumb cane
The Spruce / Krystal Slagle 

Peace lily

Distinguished by their white flowers, these tropical plants grow best in shade and can really add some flair to your home during their blooming period. These plants bloom twice a year; when fed regularly during the growing season and given a warm and humid environment, they will flourish.

Unfortunately, the peace lily also contains calcium oxalate crystals that cause extreme discomfort to dogs and cats, especially the Mauna Loa variety. This large cultivar, which can grow up to two feet, causes irritation around the contacted area and will induce vomiting in animals if ingested. While ingesting peace lily causes extreme discomfort, it's not in the same family as Asiatic, Easter, or daylilies that can cause acute kidney failure in cats, Still, for the comfort of your pets, keep them in a protected area of your home.

peace lily
The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Cyclamen 

This brightly colored genus of tropical plants blooms vibrant displays; the upper and lower sides of their leaves are different colors, and their usually pink, red, white or purple flowers are quite lovely.

The flowers and roots of cyclamens grow from tubers, mostly spherical in shape, and it is these tubers that make cyclamen plants especially dangerous to pets. While chewing or ingesting any part of the plant can cause excessive drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea for your pet, ingesting large quantities of the tubers can cause heart rhythm abnormalities, seizures, and even death.

cyclamen plants
The Spruce / Kara Riley

Aloe plant 

Aloe, which has lots of positive medicinal uses, can paradoxially be quite toxic if your pets eat it. Extracts from aloe are typically used to fight irritation or heal injured tissue. This small succulent, with its serrated leaves and distinctive smell, makes a great ornamental houseplant as well. While the topical healing properties of aloe are fabulous for humans, it can caused severe discomfort if pets ingest it. Aloe contains anthroquinone glycosides, which are purgatives that cause vomiting and diarrhea. Ingesting aloe can also cause depression, anorexia, changes in urine color, and even tremors in pets.

closeup of aloe
The Spruce / Michael Marquand 

Caladium 

Like diffenbachias, caladium also has small sharp crystals that can be detrimental to furry friends. These heart-shaped leaves can be quite showy and make the plant ideal for a corner or as a centerpiece, but if ingested they will cause severe irritation and pain in any contacted areas, as well as digestive trouble. Look for signs like drooling or pawing at the face. The calcium oxalate crystals will cause pain, drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing. Make sure caladium is not accessible to your pets.

caladium plant
The Spruce / Anastasia Tretiak
Article Sources
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  1. Dieffenbachia. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

  2. Peace Lily. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

  3. Cyclamen. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

  4. Aloe. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

  5. Caladium. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals