Fatal Flora: 6 Common House Plants That Could Hurt Your Dog

Dogs are known for exploring the world with their mouths rather than their paws. While chewing up your favorite pair of shoes is merely annoying, snacking on these 6 common house plants could prove deadly.

1. Philodendron

These leafy, fast-growing plants provide an attractive solution to a lack of greenery in the home, but they’re also dangerous for dogs. Philodendron plants are known to produce calcium oxalate crystals, also called raphides, on their leaves.

These crystals are toxic to dogs and other pets. When dogs chow down on the leaves, they might suffer moderate symptoms like:

  • Excess drooling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritation to the tongue and gums

While occasional contact won’t kill your dog, constant exposure to the leaves could be cause for concern. To protect your pooch, keep these plants out of reach or restrict them to a protected area of your garden outside.

2. Umbrella Plant

The umbrella plant, like the philodendron, produces calcium oxalate crystals, but in much greater abundance. Therefore, these popular potted trees can present a serious risk for your dogs if they chew or ingest their leaves.

Since umbrella plants thrive even when temporarily neglected, they make excellent house plants. If you love your potted umbrella tree, consider placing it on a window sill or table, out of your dog’s reach.

3. Poinsettia

Christmas won’t be nearly as merry or bright if your dog mistakes your ornamental poinsettia for a chew toy. The poinsettia’s sap is irritating to the skin, nasal passages, and respiratory system, so make sure your holiday floral displays are on top of tables or other high places.

Although they cause irritation and vomiting, poinsettias aren’t quite as dangerous as the rumors suggest. Other common holiday house plants could be fatal, however, including:

  • Mistletoe
  • Easter lily
  • Holly
  • Fir

4. Cherry tree

Since cherry trees are often difficult to grow outdoors, many people bring dwarf versions inside to enjoy their beautiful blossoms and tasty fruit. However, cherry trees are among the deadliest plants for dogs.

Specifically, the seeds can cause cyanide poisoning in dogs (as well as people, cats, and other animals). If your dog ingests the seeds or bark from a cherry tree, visit your local animal clinic immediately.

5. Asparagus Fern

The small, needle-shaped leaves of the asparagus fern make it a common house plant by itself, as well as an attractive addition to floral bouquets. While it might look great in your dining room centerpiece, keep it out of Fido’s reach.

Pay special attention to puppies, as they are at the highest risk for serious reactions. Most dogs who ingest or come into contact with the asparagus fern suffer mild symptoms, such as:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Oral irritation
  • Lethargy

Some dogs experience allergic reactions to the asparagus fern. They might have localized swelling or redness on their skin, for example. If this happens, contact an animal hospital about possible treatment, such as an over-the-counter antihistamine.

6. Tulip

They’re the perfect floral decoration for the spring season, but they also pose a danger for your canine companion. Every part of the tulip plant is toxic to dogs, though the bulb (the rounded portion at the base of the flower) is the most dangerous.

If your dog snacks on your bouquet of tulips, watch him or her closely for signs of oral irritation or gastrointestinal distress (stomach ache). Watch especially closely for any signs of difficulty breathing or increased heart rate, as these are the most severe symptoms.

The toxicity levels for all the house plants listed above can vary from one pet to another. Some animals experience unexplained allergic reactions to specific plants, so don’t assume any plant is safe. Instead, contact a local animal clinic for an evaluation, treatment and additional info.

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