Indoor Plants That Are Poison to Pets

Some pets enjoy chewing on all manner of things, including indoor plants. Though many houseplants are benign, some plants are poisonous to pets. If you have a potentially harmful plant in your home, place it out of reach of your pet--in a high spot if you have dogs or in a room off-limits to cats. If you suspect your pet has eaten a poisonous plant, contact your local Poison Control Center or your vet right away.


Plants in the lily family, including Easter Lilies, which are often used to decorate homes in the spring, can cause renal failure in cats if the cat eats any of the plant, according to Dr. William Buck, director of the National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPCC) at the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in Urbana.


Eating hibiscus can cause severe diarrhea in dogs that ingest the leaves. This could lead to dehydration and even death.


The leaves and berries of ivy contain an irritant, hederin, which causes burning of the mouth in plants who chew the leaves or eat the berries. Eating ivy can also lead to gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach and intestines.


Philodendron is a popular houseplant that flourishes indoors. Its leaves contain the chemical oxalate, which irritates the mucous membrane's of a pet's mouth and tongue, causing them to swell, sometimes to the point where the animal can't eat.

Peace Lily

Not a true lily, peace lily also contains oxalate. Chewing it can lead to the same mouth swelling caused by philodendron.


Dieffenbachia is another popular house plant that contains oxalate. The common name for dieffenbachia, dumb cane, alludes to this property of numbing the mouth and tongue is chewed.


The milky sap of poinsettia plants contains diterpenes and terpenes, irritants that can cause stomach upset in pets if they eat the plant.


Holly berries add a lovely touch to holiday decorations, but if dogs or cats eat them they may find themselves vomiting or with diarrhea. Dr. Buck says ingesting holly berries can also cause depression in pets.

Keywords: poisonous plants, plants that are poisonous, plants poisonous to pets, house plants

About this Author

Cynthia James is the author of more than 40 novels and her nonfiction work has appeared in publications ranging from Modern Bride to Popular Mechanics. A graduate of Sam Houston State University, she has a degree in economics. Before turning to freelancing full time, James worked as a newspaper reporter, travel agent and medical clinic manager.