Thanks to their luscious and variegated foliage, it’s no surprise that pothos plants are popular indoors. However, you may want to think twice about adding this to your plant family if you have four-legged friends at home.
You may now wonder: are pothos toxic to dogs?
Pothos plants have sharp crystals in their parts that make them toxic for dogs. They can irritate the mouth and cause breathing difficulties when chewed.
While pothos plants are toxic to dogs, they can rarely be fatal. Pothos can only be detrimental to dogs if they eat excessive amounts of leaves or stems of the plant.
In some cases, pothos can kill dogs if the dog is already suffering from an underlying illness.
What makes pothos plants toxic are the substances in their leaves and stems. These toxins are pretty small, so you can’t see them with the naked eye.
The most toxic substance is the insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. These crystals are present in the juiciest parts of pothos plants.
So, when dogs bite these parts, they consume the liquid with the toxin.
Since these are tiny crystals, they can poke the sensitive tissues of your dog’s mouth. The crystals can also harm their gums and throats if they swallow leaves or stems.
Chewing these parts of pothos is like crunching on broken glass. Dogs can have trouble stuffing down the leaves or stems because of the sharp crystals.
This toxin is less effective in killing dogs because it can stop dogs from further consuming the plant.
It can be alarming when your dog accidentally consumes any part of the pothos plant. To make sure that your dog is safe, here are some simple steps you can follow.
Your first instinct may be to panic, but that can only do more harm than good. In this kind of situation, you’ll want to remain calm so you can think clearly.
You don’t want your body to go into a fight or flight mode when your dog is in danger. Plus, you can make better decisions if your stress hormones are at a low level.
The next thing you’ll want to do is observe the damage. Try to see how much of the plant your dog ate.
This step is relatively easy if the dog is still sitting near the plant. You can tell by the broken leaves or stems with teeth marks where your dog may have munched.
Additionally, you’ll need to remove the plant from the dog’s vicinity to avoid further repercussions.
If you don’t know how much your dog ate, it’s time to check for symptoms.
Depending on the severity, a dog may exhibit symptoms immediately after chewing on the toxic parts of a pothos plant.
One of the evident symptoms is oral irritation. When your dog’s mouth gets irritated, it’ll most likely whimper or drool excessively.
On the other hand, if the dog swallowed some of the plant parts, it may have trouble swallowing. You can observe this symptom when it exhibits weird behavior when eating.
In some cases, your dog may also throw up. What’s good about this symptom is that your dog will be able to eliminate the toxins in its system.
Sometimes, it can be hard to tell whether your dog has recovered from the toxin. So, the best way to make sure is to call your trusted veterinarian.
This way, your vet can observe your dog’s health and suggest what to do next.
When bringing your dog to the vet, make sure to provide specifics about the situation. It should include how much of the plant it ate, as well as the dog’s breed, age, and weight.
You may also have to disclose symptoms that your dog showed. Plus, you’ll want to inform the vet of your dog’s health conditions if there are any.
Symptoms may vary from case to case. However, here are some common signs that your dog ate pothos.
When dogs experience shortness of breath, it can be because something got lodged in their throats. In this case, a pothos leaf may be the culprit.
Typically, dogs take 20 to 34 breaths in a minute. If they exceed that range, they may be suffering from shortness of breath.
This breathing difficulty also increases their heart rate.
You can tell your dog is having labored breathing when its chest wall moves more than usual. That’s because it’s trying to take in more oxygen in a short period.
Additionally, the nostrils may flare up, and the dog’s breathing may be noisy.
Some dogs will show their shortness of breath by breathing with their elbows protruding from the body. They may also hang their heads low and extend them from their bodies.
Panting is common in dogs when they just finished a rigorous exercise. However, it’s a different story if they just ate a pothos plant.
Luckily, panting is easy to spot.
Dogs will display quick and shallow breaths. They may also have their tongues out while their mouths are wide open.
Your dog may paw at their face, mouth, or throat as a sign of skin irritation. Pothos plants can aggravate the skin with a simple touch.
That’s why dogs can experience irritation around their heads if they try to touch pothos plants with their noses.
For some dogs, their skin may feel like it’s burning because of the toxins present on the surface of pothos plants.
In severe cases, dogs can exhibit a foaming mouth.
Typically, a foaming mouth means that your dog already ingested the pothos plant. Whether it was the leaves or a stem, the same symptom will occur.
5 – Irregular Heartbeat
Large amounts of toxins from plants can cause an irregular heartbeat in dogs. However, it may not always be noticeable, especially if it only lasts for a short time.
In long-lasting irregular heartbeats, dogs can be lethargic. Sometimes, they may nearly collapse or show signs of being wobbly when walking.
Either way, dogs may feel weak and lose their appetite with an irregular heartbeat.
As a pet parent, you want to keep your dogs safe from the dangers of pothos plants. Here are a couple of ways to do that.
The most obvious strategy to keep dogs away from pothos is to keep them out of reach. One way to do this is by placing your pothos plants on a high shelf.
Not only does it allow you to keep your beautiful plants, but it also lessens the risk of your dogs touching them.
Additionally, pothos can thrive in low-light conditions. So, placing them on a high shelf doesn’t threaten their ability to grow.
If you don’t have a high shelf or any out-of-reach places in your home, you can always try other decorative plants.
While there are a lot of non-toxic plants for dogs out there, here are some alternatives you can consider:
- String of hearts
- Spider plant
- Crimson cup
- Dainty rabbit’s-foot fern
- Ivy peperomia
For example, the string of hearts is perfect for adding a feminine touch to your home. Their heart-shaped leaves and traveling vines can adorn shelves and window sills.
Another popular indoor plant is the calathea, thanks to its bright and green foliage. This plant is a great alternative if you’re looking for something low-maintenance.
Spider plants, crimson cups, dainty rabbit’s-foot fern, and ivy peperomia are also other decorative plants you may want to look into.
So, are pothos toxic to dogs?
Although pothos plants add beauty and character to your home, they’re not the safest indoor plant for dogs. The calcium oxalate crystals in its plant parts pose a choking hazard and irritant.
Fortunately, plant poisoning from pothos plants is rarely serious. The best thing to do if you suspect your dog ate one is to remain calm and observant.
The next best thing to do is to schedule a vet visit to make sure that your pet is completely safe from toxins.
At the end of the day, pet parents want the safest surroundings for their furry friends. So, try to keep pothos plants away from your dogs.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.