VanWisdom: Pet Safe Houseplants & the ASPCA

Posted on February 14th, 2022

When it comes to finding the perfect houseplant for your space, it is important to take every factor into consideration. Plants are living things that need sunlight, water, and food, and while it is important to make sure your plants are being cared for and remain healthy, it is equally important to keep the other living things in your house just as safe. Of course, we are talking about your pets and kids–any living thing that might possibly ingest plant material without you knowing.

There are hundreds of thousands of plants in the world, and while we might not always have the bandwidth to study the biological effects of those plants on humans and animals. Thankfully, we can turn to the ASPCA for these concerns. the ASPCA has compiled a list of plants (both indoor and outdoor) that fall under two categories: toxic, and non-toxic. These lists focus on plants both toxic and non-toxic to dogs, cats, and horses.

You can check out the list for yourself here: Toxic and Non-Toxic Plant List

What Are Some Common Side Effects?

When our pets are feeling unwell, an illness can present itself in a number of ways. It is also important to remember that animals may have different reactions to different plants. If you know you have a toxic plant in the home, here are some important symptoms to be on the lookout for:

  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Increased Heart Rate
  • Slow Heart Rate
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Liver Failure
  • Tremors
  • Drooling
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Swelling and Burning Tongue
  • Difficulty Swallowing or Breathing
  • Rarely, Death

It is important to call poison control immediately if you notice any of these symptoms in your pet. It is equally important to investigate the houseplant for any teeth marks or tears. Even if you don’t see any noticeable marks–depending on the plant–your pet may have eaten an entire leaf, so ingestion cannot always be ruled out.

For the ASPCA poison control, call 888.426.4435 Or you can download the Animal Poison Control App

Tips and Tricks to Keep Pets Safe

When it comes down to it, there are some pretty easy ways to keep our pets safe from potentially toxic plants. With dogs, plants can simply be moved to a higher elevation as most dog breeds won’t be able to reach on top of a shelf or countertop in pursuit of the plant. Horses are even easier to care for, as toxic plants can simply be removed from barns or open areas where the horse roams.

The real culprits, unfortunately, are cats. They may be adorable but they can be devious. Cats are agile creatures and can reach indoor heights that dogs cannot, so in most instances, these traditional methods of simply “moving plants out of reach” don’t really work on cats. Here are some special tips and tricks to avoid exposing your cat to potentially toxic plants:

  • Move Plants to Other Rooms: Sometimes the most obvious solution is the one that works the best! If you have a room in your home that you don’t let your cat into unless supervised, simply place your plant in that room so that your cat will have no access and never become curious of the plant.
  • Place the Plant in an Impossible to Reach Spot: If you have an area of your home that your cat simply cannot reach (no nearby footholds) then your plant may thrive there. Just ensure the plant receives adequate light and water.
  • Move Plants to an Indoor Greenhouse: If you want to collect plants you know are toxic to your pets, there are purchasable indoor greenhouses, as well as DIY videos on how to create the perfect indoor greenhouse fit for your home. You can always ask us for extra advice on indoor greenhouse necessities and resources.

Non-Toxic Plants We Carry:

According to the ASPCA and the guidelines set on their database, Van Wilgen’s has a number of plants in stock at our glasshouse that have been deemed non-toxic. Please note that even non-toxic plants might cause minor irritation and nausea for your pet, so it is always important to take the ASPCA’s database into consideration prior to making a determination for what is right for your pet.

  • Boston Ferns
  • Ponytail Palms
  • Hoya Plants
  • Button Ferns
  • Prayer Plants (Calatheas)
  • Burros Tail
  • African Violets
  • Parlor Palms
  • Bamboo
  • Spider Plants
  • Bromeliads
  • Peperomia
  • Pilea

For more information on houseplant toxicity for your pets, visit the ASPCA. We hope to see you soon!