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The Toxicity of the Airplane Plant to Pets in the House

By Corey M. Mackenzie ; Updated September 21, 2017
Airplane plants can cause gastric distress in cats and dogs.

The airplane plant, which is also called a spider plant, is a commonly seen houseplant. These plants grow quickly, are easy to care for and produce new plants. In time a single airplane plant will give you many plants to keep or give away to friends. These leafy houseplants can be attractive to pets also; cats may especially see the long plant leaves as toys and something to chew on, which can be dangerous.

Identification

Airplane plants have long, pointed, green foliage with a pale stripe down the middle of each leaf. The plants produce offsets, which appear as miniature versions of the larger plant and which can be planted separately in a new pot. These plants are commonly sold or displayed in hanging baskets.

Toxic Substance

According to The Merck Veterinary Manual, the toxic substances of the airplane plant are found in the plant’s leaves; however, the exact toxin has not been identified.

Effects

A pet that has chewed or eaten the leaves of an airplane plant may vomit, retch and lose its appetite. Merck Veterinary manual indicates that diarrhea and death of animals have not been reported. The ASPCA lists the spider plant as nontoxic, but warns pet owners that it will cause stomach upset for animals.

Treatment

Merck Veterinary manual notes that treatment for this is to treat the symptoms. First, temporarily remove food and water from the pet’s area until it is through vomiting, as suggested by Pet Education. Most pets won’t have much interest in food at this time--but some will and may only vomit more if eating.

Offer water again and mild palatable foods (such as chicken and rice) when the pet seems to be through vomiting. If vomiting worsens, contact your veterinarian. It’s possible the pet is vomiting for other reasons and may require veterinary assistance.

Prevention

Keep airplane plants out of pets’ reach. Place the plants in hanging baskets and hang them from hooks in the ceiling, making sure these are also away from ledges if you have cats. Alternatively, keep the plants in rooms that are inaccessible to pets.