9 Houseplants That Could Kill Your Pets

Keep cats and dogs away from these attractive dangers.

November 30, 2016
cat eating aloe

Houseplants and seasonal ornamental plants can be a great way to bring nature inside, brighten your days, and even help make your indoor air better to breathe But a few can cause problems for nibbling cats and dogs. 

Related: How To Give Your Pets First Aid

Many of the reactions are minor; either because the plant isn’t intensely toxic or because it tastes so nasty that very little gets eaten. For example, says Tina Wismer, medical director at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center in Urbana, Illinois, poinsettias are over-rated for their toxicity, and nibbling those may just cause some “mild stomach upset,” no worse than what can be caused by eating spider plants, which many cats are attracted to.

But a few plants are bad enough for cats and dogs to cause serious reactions or even death if consumed. Click through to learn which houseplants are poisonous to pets.

sago palm
Sago Palm

Sago palm According to Wismer, “The most serious problems are encountered with sago palms.” 

Related: 4 Books Every Dog + Cat Owner Needs To Read

This very dangerous plant can cause vomiting, increased thirst, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, blood problems, liver damage, liver failure, and death.

pregnant onion
Pregnant Onion

Wismer also warns that this can cause heart problems, especially the leaves and flowers.

asiatic lily

Easter lily, Stargazer lily, Asiatic lily, and other lilies grown from bulbs, can cause kidney failure in cats, but not dogs, notes Wismer. In fact, just the pollen has been known to be lethal to cats. You can pluck or snip the anthers off when a flower opens but before they start shedding pollen to avoid problems.

Rodale Images

This common sunburn salve can cause vomiting, depression, diarrhea, anorexia, tremors in both dogs and cats.


Also known as dumb cane, your pet won’t chew much of this popular wide-leafed plant before experiencing intense burning and irritation of mouth, tongue, and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing. Still, if you’ve got a particularly persistant chewer, keep it away from them.

Dracaena fragrans

Another popular wide-leafed houseplant, this species, popularly known as corn plant, or ribbon plant, causes excessive salivation, vomiting, depression, and anorexia.


This wide-spread succulent is native to South Africa, but known as Chinese rubber plant as well as friendship tree, or money tree. Chewing too much can cause vomiting and depression in cats and dogs.


There are hundreds of species in this particular genus—many of them popular houseplants for their huge, green leaves and easy propagation. However, they are not edible and many can cause pets to experience intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips, and tongue as well as difficulty in swallowing, excessive drooling, and vomiting.

Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)

This beautiful, if pervasive vine goes by another name: devil’s ivy. It is listed as toxic to cats and dogs due to the “raphides” it contains—needle-shaped crystals certain plants contain to ward off predators. Ingesting it can cause intense burning and irritation of the mouth, tongue and lips, as well as excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing.

Other Plants To Be Careful With

While poinsettias are much safer than commonly believed, there are some bulbs and flowering plants that should be kept out of reach of nibbling, chewing housemates; including amaryllis (especially the bulbs), cyclamen, daffodil (paperwhites, especially the bulbs), as well as Christmas and Easter cacti.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center offers an extensive list of common plants (both houseplants, as well as outdoor plants), plus many that are perfectly safe for cats or dogs to eat. If you think that your animal may have ingested a poisonous substance the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center  suggests contacting your local veterinarian immediately or calling its 24-hour emergency poison hotline directly at 1-888-426-4435 (fees may apply).