House plants are great decorative pieces. They add a splash of colour to your home and make the air a little better to breathe in, but they also can be deadly to your precious furballs when ingested. While the list is not exhaustive, here are some of the most commonly found plants in Singaporean homes that are toxic to cats and dogs:
1. Zamioculcas Zamiifolia / ZZ Plants
Source: Leaf and Paw
Zamioculcas Zamiifolia, or more commonly called ZZ Plants, are extremely popular in houses because even the busiest – or laziest – homeowner can keep this plant alive. Apart from being able to leave them in areas with little to no light, they can survive a few weeks of neglect without withering. Unfortunately, all parts of the plant are toxic to both cats and dogs, and ingesting them can lead to adverse reactions like vomiting and diarrhoea. Their leaves also produce sap when broken that can seriously irritate skins, so if you have cats who love to rub their faces on everything, make sure to take note.
Yes, these are both Dracaenas | Source: IKEA, Pet Poison Helpline
Also known as the Lucky Bamboo, Fortune Plant, or Corn Plant, Dracaenas are often admired for their ornamental foliage and elegant growth forms. But once they’re swallowed by cats and dogs, instead of bringing good fortune and prosperity, they’ll bring drooling, vomiting, lethargy, loss of appetite, and even depression thanks to a chemical compound called saponin.
3. Aloe Vera
Even though aloe vera is a rich source of antioxidants with a myriad of health benefits, their leaves aren’t so great for munching on. The gel found in them contains anthraquinone glycosides, which are laxatives that can irritate the digestive system of your critters if ingested.
4. Golden Pothos / Devil’s Ivy
Fun fact: The Golden Pothos is called the Devil’s Ivy because it is almost impossible to kill. That’s right, resiliently staying green even when kept in low-lit places, this popular vine plant adds a wild-garden aesthetic to your home, but it’s just as unforgiving towards your pets as its name states. If eaten, you may notice your pet pawing at its face, foaming, vomiting, or having difficulties breathing. Spasms and seizures may occur as well.
5. Dieffenbachia / Dumb Cane / Leopard Lily
The Dieffenbachia, also known as Leopard Lily or Dumb Cane, might have a silly name, but its effects on dogs and cats when chewed on is anything but. The leaves and sap of this plant contain calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause swelling and burning of the mouth and tongue, and cause painful irritation to the eyes upon contact. In severe cases, pets can end up suffocating to death.
6. Chinese Evergreen
Source: Noah Garden Centre
With its bright rich colours and low maintenance, the Chinese Evergreen is undoubtedly one of the more popular choices for a house plant, but it is moderately toxic to pets. It contains calcium oxalate crystals which will penetrate tissues and irritate the mouth and GI tract, which will then lead to oral pain, drooling, vomiting, and decreased appetite.
Source: Mango and Salt
Due to their unique leaf shapes, the tropical Philodendron family is often added into homes to up their Instagram-worthy levels. The most popular being the Swiss Cheese Plant, these ornate leaves can cause oral irritation, drooling, vomiting, and swelling of the mouth, tongue, and lips when your furry friend decides to give them a little taste.
8. Asparagus Fern
While most ferns are non-toxic for pets, the Asparagus fern is. Unlike most of the other house plants listed in this article, the Asparagus fern doesn’t just cause vomiting and diarrhoea when ingested too – repeated external exposure can create skin irritation.
9. Mother-In-Law’s Tongue / Snake Plant
Source: Pistils Nursery
A dangerous beauty, the Mother-In-Law’s Tongue or Snake Plant might be a good air purifier and oxygen producer for us humans, but besides having an exceedingly pointy end that could potentially poke your pet’s eye, ingesting it can result in gastrointestinal discomfort such as drooling, vomiting, and diarrhoea.
With its heart-shaped leaves and a wide variety of colours like green, pink, red, and white, it’s no wonder why the Caladium plant is such a favourite amongst homeowners. But although it adds a beautiful touch to your house, it’s bad news if your pet happens to take a bite out of it – nausea, drooling, choking, head shaking, and vomiting are just some of the repercussions.
Most pet owners are aware of the dangers that lilies pose to dogs and cats, but for the uninitiated, all kinds of lilies, including Peace Lily, Calla Lily, Easter Lily, and Tiger Lily are highly toxic and potentially fatal, especially for cats. Vomiting, diarrhoea, inappetence, depression, stomach pain, kidney damage, and multiple organ failures are entirely possible.
Chrysanthemums are vibrant beauties that can really brighten up your place, but make sure to keep them away from your dogs and cats. It’s true that they make for a good cup of Chinese tea, but they also contain irritants like sesquiterpene, lactones, and pyrethrins, which are used in pesticides and dog flea and tick medications – enough said. Symptoms of ingestion include vomiting, diarrhoea, hypersalivation, incoordination, and skin rashes.
Plants have various names, so remember to check all possible names of the plant if you’re unsure about its toxicity! You don’t have to rid your home of all the poisonous house plants either if you’re a plant lover – just make sure to keep an eye on your pet when it’s sniffing around the greens and keep them out of reach when you’re not home.