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Pet owners: before you go out and buy a pretty potted plant, do your research! Many common house plants can be dangerous for dogs—even deadly—so make sure you know before you grow. Some dogs will take a bite out of pretty much anything. And for these dogs, toxic plants pose a serious threat.
You may know about some outdoor plants that are toxic to pets (azaleas, tulips, oleander, and amaryllis, for example), but indoor plants can be just as risky.
In this article, we’ll profile 15 popular house plants that are dangerous for dogs, along with photos for quick identification, as well as alternatives that are for safe dogs, cats, and children.
Pro tip: keep a pet first aid kit on hand, whether you assemble it yourself or buy a handy pre-made one.
If you believe your dog has ingested a poisonous plant call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for advice on next steps at (888) 426-4435.
15 common house plants that are poisonous to dogs
- Aloe vera
- Dumb cane
- Sago palm
- ZZ plant
- Elephant ear
- Corn plant
- Asparagus plant
- Desert rose
- Bird of paradise
- Peace lily
- Chinese evergreen
1. Aloe vera
Even though it can be very healing for humans, aloe is on the list of poisonous plants for dogs. Topical use of the gel found inside the leaves is no problem, but other components of the aloe plant can irritate a dog’s digestive system if ingested.
Aloe plants can be replaced with safer succulents such as haworthia, also known as the zebra plant. You’ll get a similar soft spiny look, without the risks.
2. Hedera helix, or ivy
Ivy sure looks pretty falling from a bookshelf, but things will not be pretty if your dog eats its leaves. Symptoms range from the minor, such as breathing difficulties or a rash, to the severe, such as paralysis or even coma.
Alternative: Swedish ivy
For something that can still cascade beautifully from a bookshelf or hanging pot, try Swedish ivy instead. It’s easy to care for and grows quickly with little maintenance.
3. Jade plant (Crassula ovata)
A rubber plant popular for its hard-to-kill properties and ability to live for up to 100 years, Crassula ovata, commonly known as jade, is toxic to pets and can cause vomiting and a slow heart rate in addition to a harder-to-identify symptom: depression.
Alternative: Christmas cactus
With plump leaves and a slight shine, Christmas cactus serves as a good stand-in for jade. Christmas cactus is hardy and easy to care for. In ideal conditions, you’ll see more good growth and a yearly set of red or bright pink flowers (not always on Christmas).
4. Dieffenbachia, or “dumb cane”
It’s a common houseplant with an uncommon name. Chewing on the leaves of this low maintenance plant can lead to severe swelling and burning of the mouth and tongue, which can, in turn, lead to difficulty breathing and in severe cases, death.
Alternative: prayer plant
For a safer variegated leaf, try the prayer plant, which can tolerate low-light conditions and infrequent watering.
Like Dieffenbachia, philodendron is a popular pick for its low maintenance needs, but if ingested, can result in severe oral irritation and digestive issues, spasms, and even seizures.
Alternative: areca palm
If the tropical style of the philodendron is what attracted you in the first place, consider an areca palm instead. With proper care, you can expect an areca palm to reach a height of 6-7 feet and live for up to a decade.
6. Epipremnum aureum, AKA “pothos” or “devil’s ivy”
Like its close cousin philodendron, pothos is a hard-to-kill house plant with very few needs. Unfortunately, that means it can also cause the same symptoms as philodendron if ingested.
Alternative: spider plant
Replace pothos with a spider plant, which also looks great from a hanging basket. Like pothos, spider plants are easy to grow (and difficult to kill).
7. Cycas revoluta, or “sago palm”
Sago palm lends an instant exotic look to your home, but every single part of the plant—from the seeds and the roots all the way to the leaves—is poisonous and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and in some cases, liver failure.
Alternative: parlor palm
For a similar aesthetic, try the parlor palm, which also grows upright and brushlike. You can count on it to stay roughly the same size, making it a fun and predictable design element.
8. Zamioculcas, or “ZZ Plant”
Attractive to homeowners and office dwellers with little to no light, the ZZ plant can cause adverse reactions such as vomiting and diarrhea.
Alternative: cast iron plant
Instead of the ZZ plant, try a cast iron plant, which also tolerates low light and has a similar size and deep green shade.
9. Caladium, or “elephant ear”
Whatever you call it, caladium is a favorite for its colorful leaves. However, it’s bad news if ingested by your dog. Elephant ear can cause swelling and burning of the mouth and tongue, excessive salivation, and vomiting.
Alternative: Peperomia caperata
For a similar size and heart-shaped leaf, try peperomia. This plant also blooms annually, with interesting flowers that look like tails.
10. Dracaena fragrans, or “corn plant”
Vomiting—sometimes with blood—is the main symptom when the corn plant is ingested, but it can also lead to loss of appetite and depression.
Alternative: money tree
If you’re looking for a similar small tree look, without the ill effects, try a money tree instead. It’s hardy, needs very little care, and according to Feng Shui experts, might bring luck if you put it in the right spot.
11. Asparagus fern
It doesn’t just cause vomiting and diarrhea if ingested—it can also create skin irritation if your dog is exposed to it repeatedly.
Alternative: Boston fern
If you’d like a pet safe fern, try the Boston fern. Boston ferns are easy to care for if you know what they like: cool temperatures, high humidity, and indirect light.
12. Desert rose
Nothing beats the desert rose’s ancient-looking trunk and gorgeous blooms, but if your dog gets a bite, it’s not going to be pretty. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, irregular heart rhythm, and even death.
Alternative: African violet
While it’s a sacrifice in the height department, the African violet will delight you with beautiful purple blooms, without the worry.
13. Bird of paradise
The bird of paradise is an exquisite house plant, named after the flamboyant plumage of its namesake. If your dog finds it appealing enough to eat, you can expect nausea, vomiting, and drowsiness.
Alternative: tiger orchid
For an exotic flower that’s also named after an animal, try the tiger orchid instead. Like the bird of paradise, tiger orchids like tropical conditions, and benefit from living in a prime spot like a bathroom windowsill.
14. Peace lily
The peace lily is a choice house plant for those who want to create an elegant, minimalist look. But if your dog eats it, it’s not worth it. Peace lily can cause intense oral irritation, excessive drooling, and difficulty swallowing.
Alternative: moth orchid
For an indoor flower in the same sophisticated white, try the moth orchid. Like most orchids, moth orchids prefer warm and humid conditions, with plenty of indirect sunlight.
15. Chinese evergreen
The Chinese evergreen (pictured in the back of the basket above) is a great plant for people who want to add a splash of green to a room without much light. But this easygoing plant is hard on dogs who eat it and can lead to oral pain and swelling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.
Alternative: wax plant (Hoya)
For a safer variegated leaf, try a wax plant, or Hoya. A Hoya might need a little more light, but they’re still low maintenance, and, unlike the Chinese evergreen, might bless you with some star-shaped blooms.
Have a house plant that’s not covered here or something in the garden you’re not sure about? Check out ASPCA’s website to make sure it’s safe for your pets.