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7 Indoor Plants Poisonous to Cats and Dogs (Plus Pet-Safe Plants to Use Instead)

7 Indoor Plants Poisonous to Cats and Dogs (Plus Pet-Safe Plants to Use Instead)

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Can you imagine feeling responsible for your dog or cat becoming ill? And all because you liked the look of a beautiful plant that’s poisonous to cats and dogs but you never knew it? This probably isn’t something you want to think about.

What you should be thinking about though is that cats and dogs like to sniff around things, are curious, and will lick and chew at plants… even if they are poisonous. If it did happen, you can guarantee you’d be furious – with yourself of course.

Here’s the thing though… Indoor plants are a staple in many homes, but when there’s pets and possibly toddlers around, adults need to be particularly careful with the plants being introduced.

Some are extremely toxic when ingested. For small, cuddly and ‘curious’ family members prone to licking, chewing things, and drinking any water they see, plants become a blind danger. You can’t ignore that fact.

7 Indoor Plants Poisonous To Cats And Dogs (Plus Pet-Safe Plants To Use Instead)

So, here are the worst of the poisonous indoor plants that dogs and cats cannot tolerate. Avoid these and further down, we’ll throw you a bone (or a feather duster) with a list of 7 alternative indoor plants that are safe for both dogs and cats.

7 Common Indoor Plants Known to be Toxic to Household Pets

1 – The Amazonica Polly Plant (Alocasia)

Amazonica Polly Plant

This plant is part of the Alocasia family which is vast, and most, if not all of them are poisonous to cats and dogs. The most commonly sold variety is sold under its most popular name – the Polly plant. Sounds so innocent, doesn’t it.

With its dark green leaves, the foliage and the light green patterns on them, it’s a beautiful plant to have indoors, but not when there’s pets and youngsters around.

What’s so bad about the Polly plant?

The sap on the leaves contain calcium oxalate crystal, which pets seem to find tasty and are attracted to it. That makes this the worst of all poisonous plants because your pet just thinks it’s gorgeous and wants to lick the leaves until its throwing up.

Here’s something else to think about…

It’s not just household pets that are attracted to the Polly plant. Many plant pests such as spider mites are also attracted to them, making them difficult to care for anyway.

If you have pets or young ones around your home, Alocasia runs far too high a risk to have indoors.

Then there’s this…

2 – The Aloe Vera Plant

Aloe Plants Indoors

The Aloe Vera is a common plant in many a family home because it’s believed to have medicinal properties. Nurseries cannot sell them for medicinal reasons but people do have them indoors and use the aloe gel for things like applying it as an anti-aging skin lotion, treating cold sores, and even to aid psoriasis.

For cats and dogs, the health benefits are zero! It’s the complete opposite effect because the sap also contains anthraquinones and saponins, both of which are toxic to dogs and cats, causing vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy.

Then there’s this cat killer…

3 – The Lily Plant

Lily Plant

The toxic chemical of the lily plant is unknown but it does contain something that causes kidney failure in cats. For dogs with an existing kidney or liver disease, the same can happen. All your vet can do is offer support because the prognosis is poor at best.

Once any part of a lily plant is ingested by cats in good health, the outlook isn’t good and that’s the same for dogs with existing liver or kidney conditions.

Something else to think about…

Ingestion doesn’t have to be chewing, licking or eating the leaves either as the chemicals can be ingested if a dog or cat drinks the water from the vase so this is definitely a must avoid for a pet-safe home.

4 – The English Ivy Plant

English Ivy

Oh, it’s an easy to care for indoor plant when potted, needing just moist soil and four hours of sunlight daily. It’s not so easy to care for a pet when they ingest any part of the plant…

Especially the leaves as those have the highest concentration of saponins and polyacetylene compounds, which will almost instantaneously see you watch your pet show the signs of the burning they’re feeling in their throat. A horrific experience for pets and their owners.

The combination of the chemicals burns pets’ mouths causing blisters, closely followed by some excess drooling when you’ll know you need a vet and fast.

When it is ingested, it should cause a stomach upset, however vomiting may need to be induced. For that reason, if this ever happens, emergency care is needed.

What’s the vet going to do?

A veterinarian can give pets an emetic (used to induce vomiting), which you can do at home (not advised), but chances are you never have and would prefer to have someone qualified provide emergency care.

It’s not worth the risk! Play it safe and keep English Ivy far away from household pets so you never experience the excruciating pain caused by this long-leafed trailing plant, tempting cats and dogs to have a chew or lick. Pets will take the bait and the results will not be pleasant.

Save yourself the emotional guilt when you realize it was all because of a nice looking, albeit, air purifying plant – The reason most people buy these indoor plants.

Now, if color’s what you’re after, this is not the way to go…

5 – The Bright and Colorful Sago Plant

Sago Palm

The Sago plant can be potted and used as an indoor plant during the colder months of the year. What not all pet owners are aware of is that every part of the Sago plant is highly toxic to pets.

It does look pretty and brighten up indoor decor with its prickly stems that pets would rather not chew, but the real danger is with the seeds/ nuts from the plant.

Those seeds contain cycasin, which is toxic to dogs and cats. If your pet were to chew on a seed, the toxin would cause some degree of liver failure. Not such a cheery looking plant now.

Remember the English Ivy? Well, this one’s just as bad…

6 – The Philodendron Houseplant


Philodendron plants are hardy and very decorative owing to the trailing nature of the shiny leaves. Pets can be curious enough to nibble on them and if they do, they will be ill.

Early signs of philodendron poisoning are similar to the effects English Ivy has with cats and dogs…, a burning sensation in the mouth, which you’ll notice as they paw ferociously around their nose and mouth. Drooling and foaming will happen and your pet will need emergency treatment.

Other reported symptoms of philodendron poisoning are renal failure, seizures and even pets slipping into a coma.

This is definitely not a pet safe houseplant… unless it’s hung in a basket from the ceiling where your cat or dog can get nowhere near it.

Do not have these in the usual spots like shelves or bookcases where cats can jump onto or sitting on a coffee table, within reach of both cats and dogs.

Last of the worst and horrific pet poisoning plants…

7 – The Amaryllis Houseplant


The Amaryllis is a popular winter houseplant due to its bright colors making it ideal for brightening up the décor.

The problem for pets is this… The plant contains Lycorine, which neither cats or dogs can tolerate.

The symptoms of Lycorine poisoning aren’t as severe as philodendron poisoning but it will still cause illness in pets. Sickness, diarrhea, a loss of appetite and lethargy can be indications of a dog or cat having eaten part of an Amaryllis plant.

Take notes here…

The bulb of the Amaryllis plant has the highest concentration of Lycorine so a nibble on that part of the plant would have more severe symptoms than chewing the leaves or stalk of the plant.

If you’re ever worried about any cat or dog around a plant that you’ve an incline could be poisonous, then you ought to know these…

Signs and Symptoms that Your Pet is Affected by an Indoor Poisonous Plant

The most obvious signs of any toxic poisoning in pets, especially when plants are concerned will be noticed around the mouth and nose.

As you’ll can see from some of the most toxic household plants listed above, such as English Ivy and Philodendron plants, pets will paw around their nose and mouth. This is due to the burning sensation the chemicals in those two plants cause.

According to, 90% of pet poisoning cases happen in the home. More so during the holiday season when pets are left alone for longer.

In cases when you suspect a cat or dog has ingested a poisonous plant, the symptoms to look for include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Sickness
  • Staggering
  • Lethargy
  • Being unsettled in general
  • showing signs of disorientation
  • A lack of appetite

Also check for heart palpitations and dilated pupils. In more severe cases, twitching, seizures and a coma can happen.

If none of those symptoms are present, there’s still a chance a cat or dog could be affected by contact poisoning.

Signs of Pets Affected by Contact Poisoning from an Indoor Plant Include:

  • An increased licking of their coat
  • Swelling
  • Signs of discomfort such as an increase in scratching

Keep in mind… When pets are constantly scratching, there is a risk of them breaking the skin under their coat.

Keeping Your Pets Safe

The safest thing to do is pet proof your home by only keeping pet safe plants around, unless you have the plants in a hanging basket, hung from the ceiling well out of the way of your pets.


Try Any of These 7 Non-Toxic Indoor Pet-Safe Plants Instead

1 – Bromeliads


Bromeliad plants are tropical indoor plants that are safe for cats, dogs and kids alike. They’re brimmed full of color, making them the perfect choice for those who want pet safe plants but think that means sticking to green leafed plants only.

That’s not the case with these. You can still add a burst of floral color to your room without worrying the plant’s going to harm your pets or younger ones prone to putting things in their mouth.

If color’s not a deal-breaker try…

2 – The Parlor Palm

Use this for a burst of greenery in a decorative pot to sit atop a coffee table. The parlor palm makes a great choice for a safe plant to have around pets. They’re long lasting, easy to care for and can last for years.

So, skip out on the sago palm and get a parlor palm instead!

There’s always the option to go all out jungle-like with indoor plants…

3 – Calathea Plants

Zebra Plant

Ok, so this one isn’t technically a plant, but rather a variety of plants belonging to the Marantaceae family. All are non-toxic to cats and dogs and there’s over 300 varieties, so there’s plenty to choose from.

Common pet safe Calathea plants include:

  • Prayer plants
  • Cathedral plants
  • Peacock plants
  • Zebra plants
  • Rattlesnake plants

These are among the easiest to care for indoor potted plants that are family-friendly. The only thing you will notice is that they take more watering than most other types of indoor plants.

There’s enough of these to create a jungle of a playground for cats to get lost in.

Or keep it simple with an English Ivy alternative (if that’s what you’re after).

4 – The Spider Plant


Be warned though… Just like the sap from the leaves of a Polly plant that pets find a bit too tasty, the spider plant has the same effect.

It does not have toxic chemicals, but if your cat or dog eats enough of it, it’s likely to lead to an upset stomach. Similar to what happens when they overdo it in the backyard or park by eating too much grass. It’s not toxic but in high quantities, expect an upset stomach.

Think of the Spider plant as a safe alternative to the trailing leaves styles of English Ivy. If you like the idea but still think it’s risky, put it in a hanging basket, hung from the ceiling.

Or go with the decorative green using…

5 – The Boston Fern

Ferns With Sheer Curtains

What’s that? You read that ferns are poisonous to cats and dogs? It is true that some fern plants are toxic, but this one isn’t. If you’re buying any fern plant, check its toxicity or ask an attendant if it is safe.

Boston ferns are listed on the ASPCA website as non-toxic to cats and dogs. But do not let your cat or dog overdo licking and chewing them as it still can cause an upset stomach.

…And it’ll leave you with a mess to clean up.

You can find Boston Ferns at Nature Hills Nursery.

A Boston fern can be potted or hung in a hanging basket. The latter would be the safer option, especially with a cat around as they tend to love playing with the long leaves.

Did you know that you can even grow a tree for an indoor cat?

6 – The Bamboo Palm

If it’s a purifying plant you want to grow indoors, this is among ten of the best – so say NASA. And The ASPCA have it listed as a non-toxic indoor plant, so you’re safe to have it around pets too. These things can grow from a few inches up to about 2.5 meters.

Kittens will love you with one of these things around.

7 – The Purple Waffle Plant

This is another air purification plant that’s safe for cats and dogs to be around. The leaves have a striking crinkly effect with a metallic tint to them. The color, as you’d imagine is purple, but the leaves are green so it’s a plant to add a touch of color without overdoing it.

And it’s an easy to care for plant too.

Precautionary Note:

Just because plants can be labelled as non-toxic and pet-friendly, doesn’t mean they’re edible. Curious pets may nibble on leaves or lick the water or condensation from the leaves. Non-toxic plants for pets just means you won’t need an emergency vet called out, or you rushing your cat or dog to the animal hospital.

If they ingest too much though, it can still cause stomach upsets. Same as if you were to eat too much of anything.

The best place to have indoor plants are out of the reach of your pets. At the very least, it’ll save you some uncomfortable cleaning.

To Summarize What Indoor Plants Are Safe and Unsafe Around Pets:

These Plants are Poisonous to Cats and Dogs:

  • The Amazonica ‘Polly’ Plant
  • The Aloe Vera Plant
  • The Lily Plant
  • The English Ivy Plant
  • The Bright and Colorful Sago Plant
  • The Philodendron Houseplant
  • The Amaryllis Houseplant

The Symptoms of Plant Poisoning in Cats and Dogs Are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Sickness
  • Staggering
  • Lethargy
  • Being unsettled in general
  • Showing signs of disorientation
  • A lack of appetite
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dilated pupils
  • An increased licking of their coat
  • Skin swelling
  • Signs of discomfort such as an increase in scratching
  • Broken skin caused by the increased scratching

The Plants that Are Not Poisonous to Cats and Dogs Are:

  • Bromeliads
  • Parlor Palm plant
  • Calathea plants, such as
    • Prayer plants
    • Cathedral plants
    • Peacock plants
    • Zebra plants
    • Rattlesnake plants
  • The Spider plant
  • Boston fern
  • Bamboo palm
  • A purple waffle plant

If you have any of the poisonous plants listed above in your home with pets around, swap them for the safer option of non-hazardous plants to have around pets.

It’ll save a lot of discomfort and avoid possible heartache.

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Allie Mackin

Friday 19th of June 2020

Wow thanks for this super informative post! I recently bought an Alocasisa Kuching Mask plant. Do you happen to know of this is poisonous like the Polly plant? I bought it at HICKS and it come with NO instructions just a sticker on the pot with the name of the plant. I wanted to look up how to care for it and found out it could possibly be poisonous. I may return it. They really need to have orange sticker on it saying it is poisonous and not suitable for house holds with children or pets. What if someone's child got really ill or died. I don't think the um Buyer Beware argument hold up in court. Anyhoo just curious if you knew. Thanks so much : )


Joe Rauch

Wednesday 24th of July 2019

yay it's great to Kno what's poison and what's not but do you guys think most people Kno what their plants are called why wer their no pics of these highly toxic house plants.most people take in plants because they like the way they look so help us out here and show some pics

Lisa | The Practical Planter

Thursday 25th of July 2019

You're right; pictures always help. I'll get some uploaded as soon as possible.