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Indoor gardening has become a rather popular hobby in Singapore, with collectors spending hundreds of dollars on a single rare variegated philodendron leaf. Other than being something that can brighten up your home, they have some investment value as they can be propagated and then sold.

However, many of these popular house plants do actually pose a danger to pets like cats and dogs, especially since they usually roam about at home. Curious ones that like to nibble or chomp on random things can be poisoned by these plants, so take note to keep these out of your home if you have a furry household member!

10 Houseplants toxic to pets (dogs, cats)

Toxic HouseplantsToxicitySymptoms in cats and dogs
LiliesHighVomiting, diarrhoea, throat and mouth irritation 
Sago PalmHighDiarrhoea, vomiting, liver failure
Pothos ModerateDrooling, mouth irritation, oral pain, vomiting
PhilodendronModerateDrooling, mouth irritation, oral pain, vomiting
Aloe VeraModerateVomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, dehydration
DieffenbachiaModerateDrooling, mouth irritation, oral pain, vomiting
Snake PlantMildDrooling, nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, irritation
Lucky Bamboo (Dracaena)MildDrooling, vomiting, weakness, incoordination, pupil dilation
Jade PlantMildVomiting, anorexia, lethargy, loss of balance
Rubber PlantMildDecreased appetite, drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea, skin irritation
Photo by Serafima Lazarenko on Unsplash

1. Lilies – Can cause kidney failure in cats

Lilies are beautiful and I absolutely adore them. But ever since I adopted my pet cat, I have had to keep them out of my home as they are highly dangerous for pets, especially cats. 

Lilies contain chemical compounds that are highly toxic to animals. They cause severe kidney damage that can lead to acute kidney failure when any part of a lily, including stems, petals and even pollen, is ingested. In addition, lilies can also cause gastrointestinal issues such as drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain.

Some lily species, like the Easter Lily (Lilium longiflorum), Tiger Lily (Lilium tigrinum), and Asiatic Lily (Lilium asiatic), are particularly dangerous. While other types of lilies, such as the Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum spp.) and Calla Lily (Zantedeschia spp.) are less toxic but still can cause mild to moderate symptoms.

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Photo: Pine SG

2. Sago Palm – Fatal for pet dogs and cats

The sago palm plant is highly toxic to pet dogs and cats, primarily because it contains a toxin called cycasin. Cycasin is a potent toxin that affects the liver and gastrointestinal tract. The liver is especially more susceptible as it metabolises cycasin into a more toxic compound that can cause extensive liver damage, leading to liver failure.

Pets that ingest any part of a sago palm may initially show symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea, and drooling, that can progress rapidly to more severe conditions. The toxin can also impact the nervous system, with neurological effects such as seizures, tremors, paralysis or difficulty in walking.

Sago palms are particularly dangerous as the onset of symptoms can be very rapid. It can be fatal for pets if not treated promptly and aggressively, hence it is best to avoid having sago palms in your home or garden if you have pets.

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Photo: TumbleweedPlants

3. Pothos – Moderately toxic to pets

Pothos, or also known as Devil’s Ivy, is a common house plant in Singapore as it is rather easy to care for. Unfortunately, it is also rather toxic for pets due to the presence of insoluble calcium oxalate crystals in its leaves, stems, and roots. 

Calcium oxalate crystals are shaped like needles, and therefore can cause mechanical irritation and injury to your pet’s mouth, tongue, throat, and gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms that may appear are drooling, pawing at mouth, difficulty swallowing, vomiting and diarrhoea. There may be swelling and discomfort in the mouth, throat and even airway, causing breathing difficulties in severe cases. 

In most cases, pets are able to recover from toxicity caused by pothos with supportive care, but severe cases with breathing difficulties may require more intensive treatment. Nonetheless, it is still better not to have pothos in your home if you have pets!

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

4. Philodendron – Causes irritation when ingested

Philodendrons are increasingly popular amongst house plant enthusiasts, especially in recent years. They can be extremely valuable, depending on the variegation in the leaves.

Unfortunately, philodendrons are also toxic for pets as they contain calcium oxalate crystals just like pothos. Ingestion can cause symptoms like drooling, pawing at the mouth, difficulty swallowing, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Depending on the amount ingested, symptoms can vary in severity. 

If you suspect that your pet has ingested some of the plant, it is best to take it away immediately and wash your pet’s mouth and paws to remove any residual plant material or crystals. Consult your vet for guidance and advice as soon as possible. 

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5. Aloe Vera – Laxative effect on pets

While aloe vera is generally known as a beneficial plant to humans with its soothing properties, it actually contains substances that can be harmful to animals if ingested.

Aloe vera contains compounds called anthraquinones, which have a strong laxative effect. In addition, the latex part found just beneath the outer leaf skin of aloe vera can irritate the gastrointestinal tract. If ingested by pets, it can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, and dehydration.

Other than the plant, aloe vera gel can also cause irritation to pets if applied topically or ingested. This can result in drooling, pawing at the mouth, or skin reactions.

While symptoms may seem mild, they can become more severe if larger quantities of aloe vera is ingested. Thus it is still important to keep aloe vera away from your pets! 

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Photo: TumbleweedPlants

6. Dieffenbachia – Toxic when ingested

With its attractive foliage and hardy nature, Dieffenbachia is a popular choice as a houseplant to brighten up and add colour to your home. However, it is toxic for animals, as it also contains calcium oxalate crystals. 

Pets that chew on or ingest dieffenbachia may exhibit symptoms such as drooling, pawing at the mouth, difficulty swallowing, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Although symptoms may be mild, it is uncomfortable and distressing for your pets so it is best to opt for other non toxic plants in your home. 

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Photo: Flower Chimp SG

7. Snake Plant – Can cause gastrointestinal problems in pets

The snake plant, also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, is a resilient succulent that is easy to care for. It is considered mildly toxic to dogs, as it contains saponins which can cause mild irritation to the mouth, tongue, and throat. Ingesting parts of the snake plant can also lead to symptoms such as drooling, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. 

Although it is less toxic than other plants such as pothos and philodendron, ingesting a large amount can lead to more significant gastrointestinal problems in your pet. Most dogs that chew on or ingest small amounts of the plant may experience mild gastrointestinal upset, but they typically recover without the need for medical treatment.

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Photo: GiftsFlorist

8. Lucky Bamboo – Mildly toxic to animals

Lucky Bamboo, a plant that can attract good energy and luck according to feng shui, is a rather common plant in Chinese households especially during Chinese New Year. It is actually not a type of bamboo, but belongs to the Dracaena plant family instead.

While lucky bamboo is not a highly poisonous plant to pets, it contains saponins which can be mildly toxic. If ingested, it may cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea or abdominal pain. Any stones or decorative items around the plant can also pose a choking hazard!

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Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

9. Jade Plant – Causes stomach upset in pets

A small succulent with green, fleshy leaves, the jade plant is a popular house plant that is easy to grow indoors. Even though it is not highly dangerous to pets, jade plants contain compounds called bufadienolides, which can cause mild toxicity symptoms in pets. 

Pets that ingest the leaves may exhibit symptoms such as drooling, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea. They can also irritate the mouth and digestive tract, leading to discomfort and digestive upset.

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Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

10. Rubber Plant – Potentially toxic for pets

The rubber plant is a great indoor decorative plant, as it adds colour and foliage to your home. However, it is not a great idea to have it in homes with pets, as the sap of the rubber plant can be irritating and potentially toxic if ingested or if it comes into contact with the skin or mucous membranes of pets.

Irritation and discomfort of the mouth, tongue and throat can happen when your pet chews on the leaves or stem, and they are exposed to the rubber sap. Ingesting the plant material, including the leaves, can also lead to drooling, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

In most cases, ingestion of small amounts of rubber plant may lead to mild symptoms, and pets often recover with supportive care. However, the severity of symptoms can vary depending on the amount ingested and the individual pet’s sensitivity.

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