Pets wander everywhere around the house; it’s basically impossible to monitor their every move.
That said, you need to be selective about the kind of chewable objects in your home, like house plants. If you have peperomia, you may be wondering whether it’s safe for your pets to chew on.
Is Peperomia toxic to pets? Not exactly, but your pet can still be harmed if they ingest large amounts of the plant.
In this article, we’ll explain all that you need to know about Peperomia plants and their toxicity level.
What Is Peperomia?
Peperomia is a member of the Piperaceae family.
The Peperomia genus includes over 1,000 species that have been recorded so far. They’ve acquired this name due to their high resemblance to “pepper.” Homeowners love peperomias because they’re relatively low-maintenance. Plus, they look good, which is a bonus.
Peperomia plants have many common names; it’d be wise to learn them all so you don’t get confused when you see a peperomia with a different name label. Some of these names include:
- Baby rubber plant
- Pepper elder
- Radiator plant
- Shining bush plant
- Emerald ripper pepper
Peperomias have a variety of uses because they’re edible, whether they’re raw or cooked.
For example, they can be used as a food source. The seeds can be eaten or brewed into tea. Additionally, they can be used to produce some kinds of medicine.
They’re also used as decorations and are often grown indoors to add color and beauty to interiors. In fact, peperomias are almost always grown for their beautiful foliage.
Some people also believe peperomias are good refrigerants.
Peperomia plants are a relatively new addition to the kingdom of flowering plants. The Peperomia genus has only been around since the 17th century, so the plants aren’t that popular.
Is Peperomia Toxic to Pets?
Many house plants are perfectly safe when ingested by pets. However, even the safest house plants can cause some toxicity if ingested in large amounts, including Peperomia.
Peperomia is non-toxic to dogs and cats, but it shouldn’t be consumed in large amounts.
Symptoms of Peperomia Toxicity
When in season, the fruits of Peperomias are edible for both humans and pets. However, be aware that eating too much of them will lead to some signs of toxicity.
If you have a pet that has been eating Peperomia, there may be some unpleasant side effects.
Over-ingesting Peperomia can cause:
- Reduced appetite
- Abdominal pain.
Some pets may also experience abnormal heart rhythms as well as seizures, but that’s only if they consume a lot more than the recommended amount.
If you notice any of the above Peperomia toxicity symptoms in your pet, take them to the vet immediately. The sooner your pet receives treatment, the better the outcome of the treatment will be.
How to Keep Peperomia Out of Your Pet’s Reach?
Peperomia plants are some of the easiest houseplants to keep out of your pet’s reach. Here are three ideas that may deter the pets away:
- You could use a screen enclosure that keeps your pet safely outside.
- Another way is to use repellent sprays. Using a product like Hagan Non-Aerosol Pet Repellent can be an effective solution. However, make sure first that your pet isn’t allergic to any of its components.
- Adding decorative stones around the soil of your Peperomia is a great workaround as well. It can help keep cats away from your plants but isn’t as effective with dogs.
Dogs might choke on the stones; however, cats will leave your plants alone since they prefer sandy, smooth soil.
- As a last resort, place the plant in a room your pet isn’t allowed in. Or train the pet to stay away from it.
What if My Pet Is Allergic?
Most pet allergies are seasonal and caused by the pollens produced when the plant flowers. That said, Peperomia plants are generally safe even when they flower since they produce extremely low levels of pollen.
Still, to be safe, you should know whether your pet is allergic to pollen. The symptoms are usually clear, so you’ll know something is wrong. After interaction with pollen, most pets will show rashes, puffy eyes, and in some cases, hair loss.
Dogs, in particular, will keep scratching themselves, and their skin will show sensitivity.
Benefits of Peperomia for Pets
While allowing your pet to feed on Peperomia plants has some risks, Peperomia has a number of health benefits for pets.
- Relieve gastrointestinal issues
- Effective as an anti-inflammatory
- Promote healthy heart function
- Improve digestion and promote weight loss in dogs
To reap these benefits, make sure that your pet eats Peperomia in moderate amounts and preferably raw.
One way that you can feed your pet Peperomia is by giving them a homemade dental chew. This will ensure that they get the benefits of Peperomia without ingesting any actual plant matter.
And since Peperomia is so versatile, there are many ways that you can incorporate this plant into your pet’s diet. For example, you can mix it into their food or give them a fresh leaf as a treat.
Toxic House Plants Confused With Peperomia
While Peperomia plants are generally non-toxic, they can be confused with other similar-looking toxic plants. It’s essential to learn the difference between said plants because mislabeling a plant as peperomia can put your pet’s health at risk.
Here are some examples.
Rubber Tree Plant
Rubber tree plants greatly resemble Peperomia Obtusifolia and can easily be confused with the non-toxic Peperomia.
Those beautiful house plants come in many colors like creamy green and burgundy. However, if your pet ingests any part of this plant, they’ll get poisoned.
In case that happens, here are the symptoms to look out for in your pet.
- Skin dermatitis
- Oral irritation
This type of house plant causes toxicity by targeting your pet’s DNA. If you suspect that your furry friend ingested any part of this plant, make sure to take them to a vet as soon as you can, especially if the signs are severe.
Chinese Evergreen Plant
The Chinese Evergreen plants are almost exactly similar to Watermelon Peperomia.
These plants have insoluble calcium oxalate, which comes in the form of crystals. When your pet starts to bite into any of the plant’s parts, the plant instantly releases those crystals.
Once these crystals penetrate the tissues of your pet’s mouth, they cause instant irritation in the mouth and gastrointestinal tract.
The symptoms of Chinese Evergreen toxicity may include one or more of the following signs. The signs may show immediately after ingestion or up to two hours afterward.
- Intense oral irritation and drooling
- Swelling of the throat that may lead to choking
- Difficulty swallowing
In more severe cases, those crystals can lead to more life-threatening swelling in the upper respiratory airway.
If your cat or dog has ingested larger quantities of the Chinese Evergreen plant, they may show the following symptoms.
- Violent convulsions
- Extreme difficulty in breathing as fast, shallow gasps
- Severe lethargy
If you see any of the signs above and suspect that your pet has had a bite of the Chinese Evergreen plant, contact your vet immediately.
Chinese Money Plant (Pilea Plant)
Chinese Money plants are almost identical to Peperomia Polybotrya.
While Chinese Money plants aren’t toxic, they do produce high levels of pollen when they flower.
If your pet is allergic, those Peperomia-looking plants will trigger an allergic reaction if ingested, and even if your pet comes close to them during pollination season.
Other Houseplants That Are Toxic to Pets
There are a number of toxic houseplants that your pet should stay away from in case you have them at home.
Symptoms that your pet might experience when eating these plants range from a serious stomach upset to kidney failure.
Poisonous house plants include:
- Autumn Crocus: Liver and kidney damage, as well as respiratory failure, can result from consuming the autumn crocus. The spring crocus can also cause gastrointestinal problems.
- Azalea: Azalea ingestion can result in drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. The pet can lapse into a coma and die without medical help if neurological and cardiovascular symptoms appear within minutes to hours.
- Cyclamen: Cyclamen’s most toxic parts are the roots and tuber. Ingesting them can lead to vomiting and diarrhea coupled with arrhythmias and possible death.
- Lilies: The tiger, day, Easter, Japanese show, and Asiatic lilies are all highly poisonous. Ingesting them can lead to acute kidney failure and death if a cat just licks lily pollen or eats any part of the plant. Other lilies may cause stomach upset and irritation around the mouth, but it’s advisable to keep all lilies away from your pets.
- Oleander: The plant is 100% poisonous, and all its parts are toxic. Severe vomiting, a slower heart rate, and death are all possible consequences of ingesting the plant.
- Daffodils: When eaten by pets, they lead to serious vomiting, cardiac arrhythmia, and respiratory depression.
- Lily of the Valley: Signs of toxicity can include vomiting, diarrhea, low heart rate, cardiac arrhythmia, and seizures.
- Sago Palm: Sago palm seeds and leaves can cause stomach lining damage, bloody stools, vomiting, acute liver failure, and possible death.
- Tulips: The plant’s bulb is the most toxic. Diarrhea, excessive drooling, vomiting, and esophageal and oral irritation are symptoms of bulb toxicity.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re still wondering about peperomias and whether they’re safe to keep around your pets, here are a few answers to frequently asked questions.
How can I know if my Peperomia is healthy to ingest?
When Peperomia leaves start curling or turning yellow, this means that they’re getting too much water. In that case, you’ll need to remove the yellowed leaves.
Additionally, if you start seeing any deformed leaves, pull off the leaves and wait for them to grow back again. If they grow back the same, it’s better to get rid of the plant as it’ll have toxic effects on your pet if ingested.
Is Peperomia poisonous or toxic?
The ASPCA has considered all Peperomias as non-toxic for dogs and cats. However, eating too much is likely to cause symptoms of toxicity, like the way it is with most houseplants.
Are all parts of Peperomia safe for pets?
Yes, all parts of Peperomia are safe and won’t cause any toxicity unless over-ingested.
That said, keep in mind that the Peperomia genus includes over a thousand species. It’s possible there are some newly domesticated species that have certain degrees of toxicity.
How can I protect myself while handling Peperomia?
It’s generally safe to interact with Peperomia, although you should wear gloves if you’re sensitive to plant sap.
If you use pesticides or your plant is unhealthy, you should always wear gloves to avoid getting any toxins, bacteria, or spores on your hands. After handling any plant you believe may have health issues related to microorganisms, always wash your hands.
Other than Peperomia, what other house plants are pet-friendly?
There’s a variety of perfectly safe house plants that you can also choose from, like:
- African violets
- Boston Fern
- Cast-iron plants
- Money trees
- Rattlesnake plants (Calathea)
- Most Succulents
- Swedish ivy
Those non-toxic plants are similar to Peperomias and could lead to toxicity if ingested in large amounts.
So is Peperomia toxic to pets? Peperomia plants aren’t toxic in themselves. However, it’s important to be on the lookout for any signs of toxicity in your pet.
If you have a free-range pet that gets most of its food from the wild, you need to make sure they’re not able to reach them. You can feed them Peperomia on a regular basis, but don’t let them over-eat it.
If you think your furry best friend has ingested parts of a plant that can be confused with Peperomia, pay attention to the signs and symptoms. The complications of eating a toxic house plant can be severe.
If you notice any of the toxicity signs we mentioned on your pet, take them to the vet immediately. The sooner your pet receives treatment, the better the outcome will be.
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.