How to Choose Pet-Friendly Houseplants

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If you share your home with pets and plants, chances are the two are compatible. However, there are a few plants that are hazardous to pets. Here's a short list of considerations when selecting a houseplant if you have a dog or a cat.

Things You'll Need

  • Spray Bottles
  • Plants
  • Select plants that are in good condition and free from insect pests. Examine potential indoor plants carefully before you bring them home.

  • Avoid any member of the chili pepper family. All peppers contain some amount of capsicum, the chemical that makes peppers hot. Capsicum is an irritant, both to skin and eyes.

  • Avoid some members of the aralia family. A. spinosa is toxic internally and may cause dermatitis, with blisters and inflammation.

  • Set holiday holly plants out of the reach of pets. Consuming large quantities may cause vomiting and purging.

  • Place indoor lime trees out of your pet's reach. The foliage contains terpene hydrocarbons, which may cause respiratory irritation.

  • Protect pets from the flowers of hydrangea, since they may cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and even coma or convulsions if ingested.

  • Keep mistletoe away from pets. It causes gastrointestinal irritation, nausea, diarrhea, hallucinations, delirium and possible death if ingested.

  • Place amaryllis out of reach. Bulbs and seeds contain alkaloids and can cause gastroenteritis, vomiting, diarrhea and shivering.

  • Avoid any member of the agave family. The milky sap causes itching and skin irritation, with red welts and eruptions that may last for several days.

  • Keep pets away from asparagus ferns. The foliage may cause dermatitis.

  • Put purple queen (tradescantia pallida) out of reach. The sap causes eye irritation and skin dermatitis.

  • Keep the foliage of philodendrons out of reach; chewing on it causes crystals to form in the membranes of the mouth and throat, causing intense burning.

  • Avoid dumbcane, fishtail palm and caladium plants if you have pets. They cause the same symptoms as philodendrons.

Tips & Warnings

  • A simple test for most houseplants is to rub a bit of sap on your skin. If the area reddens or becomes irritated, avoid that plant.
  • Train your pets to stay out of your indoor plants by using a squirt gun filled with water. When they sample a leaf, give them a squirt.
  • If you see evidence of poisoning, call a qualified veterinarian immediately.

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