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15 Pretty Plants that Spell Disaster for Your 4-Legged Family Member…

Listen as Dr. Karen Becker runs down a list of common house plants that if chewed or eaten, can mean serious illness or even worse for your pet.
Dr. Becker's Comments:

Do you love flowers and greenery and keep a lot of plants in and around your home that your dog or cat can nibble?

If so, you’ll want to pay particular attention to the following list of plants that can be quite toxic to the four-legged members of your family.


Lilies are particularly toxic for cats. The poisonous part of the plant hasn’t yet been identified, so your best bet is to simply avoid lilies around your home if you also have a pet, especially a cat. Exposure to just a tiny amount of the toxin in a lily plant can cause severe or even fatal kidney disease.

Marijuana Plants

If your dog or cat ingests any portion of a cannabis plant, the result can be depression of the central nervous system, loss of coordination, vomiting, lethargy, increased heart rate, seizures, and coma. Marijuana, while still illegal across most of the U.S., has been approved for medicinal use and cultivation in certain states. It’s important for any pet owner who is also growing marijuana in or around their home to take precautions to keep companion animals away from those plants.

Sago Palms

This variety of palm tree is dangerous for both dogs and cats. All parts of the sago are toxic, but especially the “nuts” or seeds. Just a seed or two can make your pet desperately ill with drooling, vomiting, lethargy, seizures and acute liver failure.


The entire tulip plant is toxic to your pet, but the bulbs are more poisonous than the leaves or stems.  Tulip bulbs can cause serious gastrointestinal irritation, drooling, loss of appetite, depression of the central nervous system, convulsions and cardiac abnormalities.

Azaleas and Rhododendrons

Species of these plants contain grayanotoxin, a compound that will cause your dog or cat gastrointestinal symptoms including bloating, diarrhea and vomiting. Ultimately, ingestion of azaleas or rhododendrons can result in coma, cardiovascular collapse and death.


All varieties of the oleander plant are poisonous for both dogs and cats. This plant contains cardiac glycosides which can cause sudden death from heart failure.

Castor Bean Plants

The castor bean plant is deadly to both dogs and cats. The beans of this plant contain a toxin called ricin. Ricin can bring on abdominal pain and bloating, and swelling of the mouth and any other part of the gastrointestinal tract the bean oil comes in contact with. More serious poisoning can cause twitching, seizures, musculoskeletal convulsions, coma and death.


Cyclamen is a common house plant with roots that are toxic to dogs and cats. The most common symptom from ingestion of cyclamen is gastrointestinal irritation resulting in severe vomiting.


The cilantro plant can cause gastrointestinal irritation and cardiac arrhythmia in your pet.


The yew plant and in fact, all species of the taxus or yew family of plants can cause serious problems for both dogs and cats.


Symptoms of poisoning from the amaryllis, also known as the Easter plant, are vomiting, lethargy and depression.

Autumn Crocus

The autumn crocus, a plant commonly found in gardens and yards, can irritate your pet’s mouth and cause diarrhea and bloody vomiting.

English Ivy

All species of the ivy family contain a toxin called triterpenoids. This substance can cause your pet gastrointestinal irritation which results in abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea.

Peace Lilies and Schefflera

Both these plants contain calcium oxalates can cause severe irritation to your pet’s mouth, esophagus and stomach. Signs your dog or cat has ingested either of these plants are vomiting and diarrhea, drooling and difficulty swallowing.

Pothos Plants

Another very common houseplant is the pothos plant. Both dogs and cats are sensitive to the pothos, which can cause soft tissue irritation in your pet’s mouth resulting in swelling of the tongue and sometimes bleeding of the mucus membranes. If your pet chews on a pothos leaf, he may also have difficulty swallowing.

Learn More about How to Keep Your Pets Safe

There’s a wonderful online resource provided by the ASPCA where you can reference a very comprehensive list of which plants are poisonous to your beloved companion animals and which are safe to have around your home and yard.

The list includes a photo of each plant and can be sorted by toxic and non-toxic categories as well as by type of pet.

If you suspect your dog or cat has ingested a poison and you have questions or need guidance, you can call the ASPCA’s Poison Control Center hotline at 1-888-426-4435. The hotline is answered 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

+ Sources and References