top of page

What's a pet-friendly plant anyway?

Updated: Aug 18, 2022

Some people say that pets are the new children and plants are the new pets. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it’s my impression that people who love plants also love pets. I, for one, have a house full of both (two dogs, a cat, a bunny, and a house full of plants).

Miles, Noelle, Reese, and CJ

But what happens if you’ve got a pet that tends to nibble on your plant? In this blog I’d like to share some resources to help you understand what it means for some plants to be “pet-friendly” and for others to be “not pet friendly.” As I browse what others have written on this subject, it's my impression there’s a lot of copy and paste out there. I want to pass on some information from trusted sources, but please remember that there’s no better source on this subject than your own trusted veterinarian.

Each year the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals posts its top ten reasons for calls to its Animal Poison Control Center. In a five-year span from 2016-2021 plants ranked between 5th and 9th each year. Other people called the APCC because their animal consumed chocolate, over the counter medications, veterinary medications, insecticides, or something else.

First, let’s discuss what it means for a pet not to be “pet-friendly.” This means parts of the plant, the entire plant, or some byproduct of the plant is toxic. If ingested your pet could get sick or even die. The Merck Veterinary Manual provides a helpful, free summary of both indoor and outdoor plants that are toxic to pets, the parts of the plant that are toxic, the effect it can have on your pet, and what kind of treatment is recommended. This summary may be more accurate and complete than relying on internet searches. Also, you’d be getting information from animal experts rather whereas most searches on this topic return results from plant experts. Here are three examples from Merck, but check out the link to see its full list.


Plant part





Vomiting and severe diarrhea indicative of stomach and intestinal irritation expected

Supportive, to correct fluid and electrolyte (salt) imbalance.


Entire plant

On ingestion, immediate pain, local irritation to mucous membranes, excessive drooling, swollen tongue and pharynx, difficulty breathing, and kidney system failure. Excitability, nervous spasms, convulsions, and occasional brain swelling reported in cats.


Snake plant


Vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, and rupture of red blood cells related to stomach and intestinal activity of these compounds.

Supportive; fluids and electrolytes may be necessary.

Three examples of toxic plants from the Merck Veterinary Manual

Another free, helpful tool is an app developed by the University of Florida that has both a library of plants that are toxic as well as a gallery of those plants in case you don’t know the name. Note that at the time of writing, this app is browser-based. You cannot download it as an app from an app store.

We hope you find these resources to be helpful. Now go rub your pet's tummy!

50 views0 comments


bottom of page