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Are All Boston Ferns Toxic to Pets?

Are All Boston Ferns Toxic to Pets?
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Boston Ferns (Nephrolepis exaltata) are beautiful houseplants. Due to their long green fronds and mesmerizing foliage, they make one of the best additions to your interior decor.

This is, however, not the only reason Boston Ferns are everyone’s favorite. These plants don’t need much sunlight and only need to be planted somewhere humid to thrive.

Moreover, Boston Ferns are highly beneficial for dry nostrils or dry skin because they can act as a humidifier. They can also absorb formaldehyde, which is a common indoor air pollutant.

If you’ve recently purchased a Boston Fern, you probably witnessed your pet suspiciously going around it or trying to gnaw at it.

This may have got you wondering: Are Boston Ferns toxic to pets? The answer is no, they aren’t. However, that doesn’t mean you can let your pet munch on it because too much Boston Fern can be harmful.

Keep scrolling to learn more about Boston Ferns, their relationship with your pets, and if they could possibly be of any harm to humans.

Are Boston Ferns Toxic to Pets?

You’ve definitely heard that some fern species are toxic to animals. While that’s true for many ferns, Boston Ferns fortunately aren’t among those toxic varieties.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Boston ferns are non-toxic to pets.

In fact, Boston Ferns are beneficial to have around the house, as they’re known for improving air quality and humidity.

That said, you shouldn’t let your pet consume large amounts of the plant. If you have pets or kids around the house, it’s best to consider placing your Boston Fern somewhere they can’t reach.

Pets, as well as children, are always drawn to attractive plants. They enjoy touching, playing with, and sometimes even eating the leaves.

That’s why it’s crucial to know if the plant you own poses any risk to your pets or kids.

Are Boston Ferns Toxic to Cats?

Naturally, cats like chewing on plants. It’s nothing personal with your Boston Fern, though its foliage and fronds can be more irresistible than other plants.

Luckily, Boston Ferns aren’t toxic to cats.

Why Does Your Cat Eat Boston Fern?

If you notice that your cat is attracted to sniffing and eating greenery, it could be an indication of hairball issues.

When cats have trouble coughing up hairballs, they tend to chew on grass or any plant they can get their paws on to help them throw up.

In your case, the Boston Fern is what your cat uses as a remedy for her hairball issue.

It can be tiring having to clean up after your cat. In addition, having your favorite plant destroyed can be quite saddening.

That’s why you should brush your cat regularly and add extra fiber to its diet to avoid hairball problems.

What if Your Cat Ate Too Much Boston Fern?

Even though Boston Ferns are non-toxic to cats, you shouldn’t let your cat nibble on them.

If anything, you should keep them out of reach and away from your cat, especially when you’re not around.

Aside from damaging the plant, ingesting too much of the Boston Ferns can harm your cat. If your cat eats too much of the Boston Fern, she may experience some side effects. Those side effects may include:

  • Upset stomach
  • Indigestion
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling

In addition, while it’s extremely rare, your cat may show symptoms of skin irritation if she brushes against your Boston Fern.

In that case, you’ll need to pay a visit to the vet. The vet will assess the situation and determine the best treatment for your pet’s case. You’re also required to send the vet a sample of the plant to check its toxicity levels.

Your cat may need fluids in case of vomiting. Topical treatment for the irritation will also be the best solution.

Are Boston Ferns Toxic to Dogs?

As a dog owner, your duties include keeping any common household toxins out of their sniffy noses.

You wouldn’t think that a seemingly harmless plant could be poisonous to your beloved canine. Unfortunately, there are many kinds of ferns that are toxic to dogs.

Boston Ferns, however, are safe to keep in your house and around your pets. Still, for the sake of the plant’s health, you should keep your Boston Fern out of reach.

What if Your Dog Ate Too Much Boston Fern?

Similar to cats, dogs shouldn’t ingest a large amount of Boston Ferns. Consuming too much of the Boston Ferns can cause similar symptoms, like vomiting, diarrhea, and drooling.

Dogs’ guts are meant to digest large amounts of protein. Fibers, on the other hand, should be consumed in small amounts.

Your dog may also exhibit signs of skin irritation, so you’ll need to consult with your vet.

Are Boston Ferns Poisonous to Humans?

As a Boston Fern lover, you’d be glad to know that The University of Nebraska has listed Boston Ferns among the non-toxic plants to humans.

Due to children’s curious nature, they may be tempted to taste the pointy leaves of the Boston Fern. That’s why parents may worry about having a Boston Fern around the house.

Rest assured that you can get as many Boston Ferns at home as you wish without having to worry about your kids’ safety.

Keep in mind that, although Boston Ferns are non-toxic to humans, they may cause some skin irritation or unusual reactions, such as dermatitis.

Though unlikely, it’s better to contact your local doctor if you or your kid show any unusual symptoms after coming in contact with a Boston Fern.

Boston Ferns or any other plants are also likely to be a choking hazard for kids. That’s why it’s better to keep them out of reach.

How to Stop Your Pet From Eating Your Boston Fern

Although Boston Ferns are non-toxic to pets, you still want to discourage your pet from eating them. After all, you wouldn’t want your pet to ruin your cherished Boston Fern.

Here are a few tips on how to stop your pet from eating your Boston Fern.

Tip #1: Keep Your Boston Fern Out of Reach

Hang your Boston Fern from the ceiling in a hanging basket. This way you can add a new flair to your home while also keeping the plant out of your pet’s reach.

You can also place your Boston Fern on top of a shelf or a high surface. Although not useful if you have a cat, this tip is best for keeping dogs and children away from your Boston Fern.

The safest and easiest option would be to place the plant in a room where your pet isn’t allowed to go into.

Tip #2: Use a Repellent

Spray your Boston Fern with a bitter apple spray. It tastes unpleasant and will keep your pet from eating the plant.

Additionally, you can find other products for repelling cats and dogs. These repellents usually have a strong scent, so spraying them on your Boston fern will cause your pet to sneeze and avoid the plant.

There are also alternatives to bitter apple spray that you can make at home. Spray your Boston Fern with a mixture of water and vinegar. A water and scented soap mixture works well too.

These solutions won’t harm the plant, but they’ll keep your pets away. That said, never sprinkle cayenne pepper on your plant as a repellent.

If pepper gets into your pet’s eyes, it can cause severe pain. Some cats may even try to claw their eyes out to get the pepper out.

Tip #3: Train Your Pet

It would be perfect if you’ve already taught your dog the “leave it” command. Cats, however, aren’t that easy to train.

Keep a water spray or a water gun near you. Spray your cat whenever she gets too close to your Boston Fern. This method requires your full attention, but it’s worth the try.

You can also startle your pet with a firm “no” whenever it tries to approach your Boston Fern.

Tip #4: Clean Your Cat’s Litter Box

We all love our cats, but tidying up the mess they make sometimes can get tiring. When cats are bored, they can literally flip the house upside down, breaking stuff and digging up plant pots.

What’s more, cats are natural diggers. They like to dig in the dirt and bury their poop. That’s why your cat may dig out your Boston Fern’s soil and cause havoc.

Cleaning your cat’s litter box regularly and putting the box in a convenient place will help limit your cat’s need to dig around.

If your cat is still messing around with the soil, you may want to consider adding a layer of pebbles to the soil’s surface.

Covering your Boston Fern’s soil with pebbles, seashells, or any other decorative items will protect your plant without affecting the water flow.

Tip #5: Satisfy Your Pet’s Need for Greens

Your pet munching on your Boston Fern may be a sign that you should add something green to its diet. Plants are packed with nutrients, minerals, and vitamins that can elevate your pet’s health.

If you need something for your cat to nibble on other than your Boston Fern, consider growing wheatgrass seeds. Adding wheatgrass to your dog’s diet can be highly beneficial too.

Tip #6: Keep Your Pet Occupied

Attract your pet’s attention with its favorite toys, and always make sure that its toys are accessible. A chew toy is perfect for dogs and will keep them occupied.

Cats also like playing with toys. Maybe a scratch pole will keep them busy. If pets are surrounded by their favorite toys, they will be busy enough not to destroy other things.

What Are Other Non-toxic Ferns?

There are thousands of different fern species. Some of them are toxic, while others are harmless. If you’re wondering what other types of ferns you can grow safely at your home, we’ve got you covered.

Aside from Boston Ferns, there are a few non-toxic types, including:

  • Holly Fern
  • Bird’s Nest Fern
  • Staghorn Fern
  • Maidenhair Fern
  • Button Fern
  • Carrot Fern
  • Rabbit’s Foot Fern

Why Are Some Ferns Toxic?

Some types of ferns contain toxins that are fatal to animals if consumed over an extended period of time. Those toxins could even harm humans if they drink the milk that comes from affected cattle.

Most ferns are similar in appearance and hard to tell apart. If you’re out for a walk in the woods with your dog, it’s better to stay away from any unfamiliar plants.

Some types of ferns contain small berries that are toxic to pets. Other types contain Saponins, which is a natural plant toxin. If your pet consumes Saponins, it releases toxic components into their bodies.

That’s why it’s extremely helpful to know what ferns to avoid having around pets and children.

Toxic ferns that may cause harm to your pets or kids include:

  • Asparagus Fern
  • Bracken Fern
  • Emerald Fern
  • Sprengeri Fern
  • Foxtail Fern
  • Lace Fern
  • Plumosa Fern

The level of toxicity depends on the plant type, but fern poisoning happens mostly through oral ingestion.

The severity of the symptoms can range from nausea to cardiac problems in humans. Pets, on the other hand, usually suffer from gastrointestinal issues.

If you suspect any type of fern poisoning, contact your doctor immediately.

Final Thoughts

As parents, pet keepers, and plant enthusiasts, we always recommend doing your research before making any changes around the house.

There are more common household toxins for pets and humans than you might think. Some people aren’t aware of this fact. Consequently, they may be putting their beloved pets or kids at risk.

Boston Ferns make an exquisite addition to your plant collection or your house garden, especially if you’re living in an area with high humidity. Luckily, they’re not toxic to pets or humans. However, they may cause some issues if ingested.

Although Boston Ferns aren’t poisonous to pets, ingesting too much of them can be troublesome.

Similarly, you should pay attention to any unusual reactions associated with handling Boston Ferns. That’s why asking a plant expert or your vet for advice is always a great idea.