Adding houseplants to your home is a wonderful way to introduce natural beauty and fresh air. However, it's important to be aware that some houseplants can be harmful to animals if ingested, potentially causing a range of health issues from mild discomfort to serious poisoning. While the following examples highlight five toxic houseplants, it's crucial to remember that there are many other plants with varying degrees of toxicity. Therefore, if you have pets at home, it's essential to ensure that any new plants you bring in are safe for your furry family members.
The sago palm is a popular decorative plant known for its feathery foliage. However, every part of this plant, including leaves, stems, and seeds, contains the toxin cycasin. If consumed by animals, any portion of the sago palm can lead to symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, liver failure, and even death.
Dieffenbachia, commonly known as Dumb Cane, is a common houseplant with large, multicoloured leaves. The plant contains calcium oxalate crystals in the form of needles, which can cause severe burning and irritation of the mouth, tongue, and lips if chewed or ingested by pets. Toxicity to Dieffenbachia can cause excessive drooling, pawing at the mouth, and difficulty swallowing in animals.
Philodendrons are often favoured as indoor plants due to their low maintenance and beautiful foliage. However, similar to Dieffenbachia, these plants also contain calcium oxalate crystals that can irritate the mouth, cause drooling, and make breathing difficult if ingested by pets. In severe cases, it may lead to throat swelling, making it challenging for animals to breathe.
While lilies are admired for their beautiful flowers and fragrance, many species are highly toxic to animals, especially cats. Ingesting daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.) or true lilies (Lilium spp.) can result in kidney failure in cats. Even small amounts of lily pollen or plant matter can cause symptoms such as vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, and if left untreated, severe kidney damage.
Pothos, also known as devil's ivy, is a popular trailing plant often used in hanging baskets or as a climbing plant. While it has a lower level of toxicity compared to some other plants, it still contains insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. Chewing on the leaves or stems can cause swelling and inflammation in the mouth, resulting in a burning sensation and difficulty swallowing for pets.