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When you become a pet owner, you are responsible for another living creature, and it is your job to ensure that you provide your pet with a safe and healthy environment. Sometimes, this involves removing things from your home, like houseplants.
Many pet owners aren't aware that their houseplants can pose serious health risks if a pet eats part or all of them. They often assume since a plant is being sold for use in the home it must be safe. The problem is, some plants that are safe for humans may prove to be toxic to pets. Here is a list of the top ten most-dangerous indoor houseplants that should be kept away from your pet.
Aloe Plant—The Aloe Plant is a very popular household succulent because it is easy to care for and the gooey liquid in its leaves is used to help soothe a number of different ailments, including sunburn. But if your pet ingests this substance, he could suffer severe vomiting and reddish-colored urine. Other names for the Aloe Plant include Barbados Aloe, Aloe Vera, and the Medicine Plant.
Asparagus Ferns—Asparagus ferns are popular plants for indoor use because they're hardy, easy to care for, and need little water and sunlight. This light, airy plant contains a steroidal agent called sapogenin, which is highly toxic to dogs and cats. Ingesting this plant or the berries it produces may cause diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and skin inflammation. Other names for this plant include Emerald Feather, Emerald Fern, Lace Fern, Plumosa Fern, and Sprengeri Fern.
Corn Plant—Corn plants also are popular because they resemble miniature palm trees. The plant has a thick stem and variant leaves with different hues of green running throughout. It is also called a Dragon Tree, Cornstalk Plant, Ribbon Plant, and Dracaena. The corn plant contains a chemical called saponin, which when ingested may cause severe vomiting, dilated pupils (in felines), loss of appetite, and depression.
Dumb Maye—Dumb maye, which is also known as Dieffenbachia, Tropic Snow, and Exotica, has broad multi-hued green leaves. This plant contains a poisonous chemical that is supposed to work as a natural deterrent to animals and it is toxic to both cats and dogs. If ingested, this chemical may cause oral irritation, difficulty swallowing, increased salivation, and vomiting.
Elephant Ear—Elephant ear plants are so named because the leaves resemble the ears of elephants. Other names for this broad green leafed plant include Taro, Pai, Malanga, Via Sori, Ape, and Caladium. If elephant ear is ingested by your pet, it will cause increased salivation, difficulty swallowing, oral irritation, and vomiting.
Fiddle Leaf—Fiddle Leaf is easy to grow, which makes it ideal for use in the home. It is highly toxic to dogs and cats. When ingested, fiddle leaf can cause mouth irritation, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing. It also is known as Heartleaf Philodendron, Horsehead Philodendron, Cordatum, Fruit Salad Plant, Red Emerald, Saddle Leaf, Red Princess, Panda Plant, and Split-Leaf Philodendron.
Jade Plant—The Jade plant's thick rubbery petals are beautiful to look at, but they may prove dangerous for pets. When ingested, this plant may cause vomiting, depression, a slowed heart rate, and a loss of coordination. Other names for the Jade Plant include Chinese Rubber Plant, Japanese Rubber Plant, Friendship Tree, Baby Jade, Jade Tree, and Dwarf Rubber Plant.
Lilies—There are many types of lilies and just about all of them are toxic to animals, especially cats. Easter and Stargazer lilies are the only varieties safe for use around pets, except for cats, as they are the only animals these two plants affect negatively. If a cat ingests a lily, he may suffer intense vomiting, lethargy, and a loss of appetite. If treatment isn't administered, a cat may develop kidney failure and even die.
Silk Pothos—Also known as Satin Pothos, this popular indoor plant is usually hung high due to its drooping vine-like stalks. While beautiful and easy to care for, Silk Pothos can cause vomiting and difficulty swallowing in pets who ingest it.
Sowbread—Sowbread, which is also known as Cyclamen, is a beautiful flowering plant that is commonly housed indoors. Every part of this plant is dangerous to pets. The petals and leaves may cause vomiting, diarrhea, and increased salivation, while ingesting the tubers may lead to heart rhythm problems, seizures, and even death.
In most cases, the severity of a dog or cat's reaction depends on how much of the toxic plant is ingested. The species and size of the pet also may be factors. If you think your pet has ingested any one of these plants, don't hesitate and call your veterinarian immediately.
Dr. Evan Ware is a veterinary practitioner in Phoenix, Arizona. He received both his undergraduate degree in microbiology and his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from The Ohio State University.
Dr. Ware is currently the Medical Director of University Animal Hospital (VCA) and is also the owner of two other hospitals, including Laveen Veterinary Center and Phoenix Veterinary Center. His areas of expertise include orthopedic medicine and surgery, veterinary oncology and chemotherapy, and general and advanced soft-tissue surgery.
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