Pet-Safe Plants

Pet-Safe Plants

The ASPCA receives over 233,000 cases of potential animal poisonings per year. Plants are the eighth-most reported pet toxin, accounting for 40% of all calls.

To keep your companion animals safe, it's important to know which plants are safe. 

Pet Safe Plants: What Makes a Plant Pet-Safe?

 pet safe plants

Simply put, pet-safe plants, or pet-friendly plants, are nontoxic plants, meaning plants without any known toxins that could cause harm to humans or animals if ingested or touched.

So, what makes a plant poisonous to cats and dogs? It all depends on plant toxicity levels, which are generally broken into four classes:

  • Major toxicity plants can cause serious illness or death if ingested.
  • Minor toxicity plants can cause minor illnesses, such as vomiting or diarrhea, if ingested.
  • Oxalate refers to the juice or sap of plants containing oxalate crystals that can cause skin irritation and other ailments if ingested.
  • Dermatitis refers to plants that can cause rashes or skin irritation if touched.

Some of the most popular starter plants like Pothos and Snake Plants are poisonous to pets and fall in the fourth class. And sadly, curiosity can literally kill a cat if they eat Lilies— the mortality rate is 50%. These blooms generally fall in the second and fourth toxicity classes. The same goes for Sago Palms that are poisonous to dogs, with a 32% to 50% mortality rate and falling in the second plant toxicity class.

For peace of mind, according to the Pet Poison Helpline, “While there are thousands of species of plants and flowers, only a small percentage of plants are truly dangerous and poisonous to your pet.” Generally, any adverse effects are non-life-threatening and will differ depending on an animal’s level of contact with the plant.

When unsure of a plant’s toxicity level, nip your doubt in the bud and place it out of your animals’ grasp — even the most toxic of plants are only poisonous if a pet can reach it.

Pet-Safe Houseplants For Cats and Dogs

 pet safe indoor plants

Despite some being toxic to pets, houseplants actually remove toxins from the air, helping boost our home’s air quality and by some counts even removing dust by as much as 20%.

Work-wise, their benefits are also aplenty. Plants have proven to increase productivity, spark creativity, and improve memory and attention spans. For these reasons, consider the following houseplants to keep you and your pets breathing easy and stress-free.

Nontoxic Flowering Houseplants

Flowering houseplants can be a lesson in patience. Some of them bloom slowly and others only once in their lifespan. No matter when they blossom, embrace their pops of color and, in the case of the following, the fact they’re pet-friendly.

  • Gloxinia
  • Lace Flower Vine
  • African Violet
  • Hoya
  • Orchid
  • Lipstick Plant
  • Bromeliad

Flowing, Climbing, and Cascading Pet-Safe Houseplants

Some houseplants simply overflow with greenery, donning vines that flow, climb, and cascade out of their planters. They’re fun, and they may even tempt your pets. The following houseplants are harmless in the event Fido or felines bat them around.

  • Boston Fern
  • Swedish Ivy
  • Spider Plant
  • Aluminum Plant
  • Baby Tears
  • Staghorn Fern

Foliage Houseplants That are Safe for Pets

Foliage houseplants are the epitome of an organic decoration. Admire their leaves that come in many shades, patterns, and shapes, and rest easy knowing these ones specifically are pet-safe.

  • Royal Velvet Plant
  • Prayer Plant
  • Calathea
  • Bird's Nest Fern
  • Chinese Money Plant
  • Mosaic Plant
  • Banana Tree
  • Friendship Plant
  • Purple Waffle Plant

Other Pet-Friendly Houseplants

You might be surprised to find a list of pet-safe houseplants that can go on and on. Here, we’re sharing a few more surprising houseplants — trees, palms, and even Venus Fly Traps — that are pet-safe.

  • Venus Fly Trap
  • Air Plant
  • Haworthia
  • Money Tree
  • Areca Palm
  • Parlor Palm
  • Ponytail Palm

Pet-Safe Plants for Your Garden

pet safe outdoor plans

Whether you want to grow your own food or create a serene outdoor space, gardening comes with plenty of health benefits, much of which stems from vitamin D exposure.

Just a half-hour in the sun can produce between 8,000 and 50,000 international units of vitamin D in your body, which can impact overall health and well-being. Getting dirt under our nails has also been shown to reduce the risks of heart disease and dementia.

Of course, growing our own food also creates a positive food environment and encourages us eat healthier. Some veggies are even A-okay for our companion animals to eat.

Pet-Safe Herbs

Consider adding the following pet-friendly plants to your outdoor herb garden.

  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Dill
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Cilantro
  • Savory

Nontoxic Succulents

Succulents are beloved for how their fleshy leaves embrace the elements, eating up the sun’s rays and retaining water. Not all, but some — like the following — also happen to be pet-safe.

  • Echeveria
  • Burros Tail
  • Christmas Cactus

Pet-Friendly Flowering Plants for Your Garden

While some flowering plants might contain harmful toxins in their petals, leaves, and pollen, these nontoxic plants are pet-safe and can brighten up even the dullest of gardens.

  • Camellia
  • Honeysuckle Fuchsia
  • Magnolia Bushes
  • Snapdragons
  • Sunflowers
  • Petunias
  • Coral Bells

Other Pet-Safe Outdoor Plants

Consider these pet-friendly plants for added design appeal to your garden and maybe even a little nontoxic distraction for your pets.

  • Cast Iron Plant
  • Cat Grass
  • Bamboo
  • Polka Dot Plant

 

health benefits of pets and plants

It’s no secret that our pets make us happy. The CDC’s even outlined the upsides of pets, including that they provide us with companionship and opportunities for socialization.

Plants, too, come with a wealth of positive attributes — there are even entire treatments dedicated to them, including ecopsychology and horticulture therapy.

Combine your exposure to the two — pets and pet-safe plants —and the benefits are immense.

More exercise opportunities

Whether it’s daily walks to the dog park or playing fetch, dog owners know that the responsibility of caring for a pet means more opportunity to exercise. And gardening is another form of that, too, with the CDC recognizing it as such and estimating that just 30 minutes of gardening can burn up to 165 calories.

Breaking a sweat aside, over 80% of people have also considered gardening having a better positive affect on their mental health than attending a gym.

Rejuvenated sense of purpose

When someone or something depends on you to give them, that provides us with a sense of purpose. Pets and plants need us for survival. And the beauty of that relationship is that pet-owners and green-thumbed enthusiasts reap the benefits in the form of increased self-esteem in addition to that sense of purpose.

Reduced stress and anxiety

Service animals are a testament to how animals can reduce our stress and anxiety, and it’s been reported many times over that plants and gardening can reduce our stress levels, too. But did you know dirt has antidepressant properties? The mere act of getting your nails — or possibly claws — dirty exposes us to a healthy bacteria called M. vaccae that lives in soil and has proven to increase levels of serotonin, which can reduce anxiety.

Boost your mood times two

All of these points considered, caring for pets and plants plain out makes people happy. Combine both types of caretaking and it can be argued that you’re doubling down on a mood boost.

What to Do if Your Pet Eats a Poisonous Plant

Despite how much we work like a dog to keep our pets safe, sometimes they still manage to eat poisonous plants.

If you believe your pet may have ingested a poisonous plant, call for help immediately from either the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 or the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661.

Gnawed leaves or missing flowers aside, some common signs your pet might have ingested or been in contact with a poisonous plant include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Drooling
  • Abnormal behavior
  • Excessive thirst or urination
  • Weakness

Creating a pet-safe home doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice other things you love. Being informed about pet-friendly plants and other plants’ toxicity levels can go a long way in creating a healthy haven that supports your overall wellness and, in turn, your pet's well-being.