Nature versus nurture? It doesn’t have to be one or the other. Deep theology aside, we know that caring for a living thing is also nurturing to the soul of a caregiver. When we choose to nurture another life, we find ourselves equally if not exceedingly blessed. Dog owners have already experienced the rewards of loving a pet well. The reciprocation of joy and unconditional acceptance are extremely beneficial to mental health. Similarly raising plants has been known to reduce stress and promote calm, relaxation, and feelings of wellness. Therefore it’s no surprise that pet and plant ownership often go hand in hand. Once we invest in nurturing the life of a plant and pet, we experience an exponential return.
There are many benefits of bringing horticulture into your home (or life in general). Some of these positive effects are:
● Removing toxins and purifying the air.
● Inviting beauty and improving mood.
● Increasing attention span.
● Participating in the miracle of growth.
According to Linda Solegato, “Plants give us oxygen for the lungs and soul.” Much like bringing a pet into your home, a plant can add richness and pleasure to daily life. Gardening would be a fun activity to enjoy together, but unfortunately, our dog’s capabilities don’t often move past the digging and fertilizing stage. It’s up to the human to call the shots regarding plant choice and safety. You need to be aware of potential harm if you want pets and plants to be amiable roommates. Not only do the daisies need to be protected from little Daisy’s destructive paws, but some plants can be harmful and even fatal to your sweet pup. Before you bring plant babies home to meet your furry baby, you’ll need to do a little research to ensure that you aren’t accidentally introducing something dangerous.
Here is our top 10 list of common plants to ditch or avoid bringing into your home if you have a dog!
Well, aloe there. This easy-growing houseplant is packed with medicinal benefits. The gel inside its leaves is packed with vitamins and is naturally antibacterial! It is useful and effective for treating minor cuts and burns, including sunburn. There is also some evidence that aloe vera gel may help improve dry skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
All these wonderful perks for humans make the aloe plant a tempting choice, but this plant can cause serious health issues for furry friends. The Pet Poison Helpline tells us that when ingested by dogs, the plant’s compounds are metabolized by intestinal bacteria resulting in increased mucus production and water in the colon. This can lead to vomiting and diarrhea. Other clinical signs seen with aloe vera ingestion include depression, anorexia, changes in urine color, and possibly tremors.
Caladium is an attractive, tropical, low maintenance, and shade-loving plant, which makes it a popular choice for indoor decor. Also sometimes called “Elephant Ears” for its large, heart-shaped leaves, caladium is considered mild to moderately toxic to dogs. These plants contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals, similar to other plants in the Araceae family. Chewing or biting into this plant will release these crystals, causing an intense burning sensation in the mouth and oral cavity. The sap inside these leaves creates soft tissue irritation and the risk of airway closure. Symptoms to look for include drooling, decreased appetite, evidence of mouth pain, difficulty breathing, or vomiting.
Who doesn’t love the simple statement beauty of this trendy indoor tree? An Instagrammed room just doesn’t pop without one! Sadly, this fiddle won’t jam well with your midnight howler. Fiddle-leaf plants contain those insoluble calcium oxalate crystals also found in caladium plants. If ingested, it can cause oral irritation, excessive drooling, mouth pain, and gastrointestinal issues. Though they are a great accent piece, if your dog is prone to chewing on plants, do not bring a fiddle fig into your home.
Ivy makes a glorious, bright light houseplant. It can grow long and lush, quickly bringing a bit of pizazz to otherwise boring wall shelves. However, ivy can be tricky because of its many different varieties. While not all ivies are problematic, certain types contain compounds that are. The irritant within the plant can cause excessive drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea when ingested. Though typically not fatal, you’ll want to be sure to protect your pup by keeping vines high and out of reach.
The lily is a prominent symbol in history for many different cultures because of its grace, beauty, and amazing aroma. It’s a flower that adds a classy touch of elegance to any home or event. While some lily varieties aren’t as toxic as others, most do pose a threat to dogs. True lilies (such as the Star, Glory, and Lily of the Valley) contain colchicine alkaloids, which cause serious damage to the blood cells. This can lead to weakness, liver failure, and heart problems. Other lilies (such as Peace, Rain, and Calla) have insoluble oxalate crystals. When eaten, these crystals cause irritation to the skin and intestinal system leading to vomiting, trouble swallowing, and swelling of the lips and tongue. Some lilly variations are considered safe for canines. Still, you should proceed with caution. If you absolutely cannot do without this flower, the best choices are the Peruvian, Tiger, Day, and Easter lilies.
The asparagus fern is gaining more traction as a common houseplant. With its feathery, light foliage, it’s quite pretty and can be successfully grown indoors with little light. Humorously, asparagus fern is neither related to asparagus or ferns! The name comes from its appearance only. It actually belongs to the Liliaceae family which makes it a relative of lilies, tulips, and hostas. Asparagus fern has many good qualities, but it comes with some cautions as well. If consumed, the berries of the plant may cause gastrointestinal issues, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. The berries also may cause a skin rash at the point of contact. If you have children or pets, this is not a good plant to have around, indoors or out.
7. Sago Palm
Palms are desirable ornamental plants that add a flair of the tropics wherever they reside. Sago palms are capable of living for a very long time, which makes them a worthwhile investment as a houseplant. Sago palms are easy to grow indoors because most inside temperatures mimic the warm climates they are native to. Sago palms also do well in containers since they thrive in well-drained soil. This sounds warm and inviting but leafy sago palms are one plant worth admiring in someone ELSE’S home. It is one of the more toxic plants for dogs. If consumed, symptoms include severe vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, stumbling, tremors, seizures, and trouble with temperature regulation. Ingestion can ultimately lead to liver failure and even be deadly.
8. Snake Plant
This eye-catching indoor plant is known for its ease of care for even the blackest of thumbs. Unfortunately, they also contain saponins (a bitter-tasting, organic surface-active compound) that are harmful and can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea if ingested. When you hear “snake plant” you should visualize an actual snake. Both spawns of nature are toxic to your doggo’s system! Our personal, general rule of thumb is to avoid snakes… any kind of snakes. To reiterate, snakes are bad.
If you’re attempting to grow a kitchen garden this year, it’s important to know what plants are safe for your dog to partake in and which are not. While an occasional ripe tomato may be safe for dogs to consume, unripe tomatoes or green parts of the tomato plant can be toxic. Stems, leaves, and young, green tomatoes contain higher levels of solanine which are harmful in large quantities. Signs of tomatine poisoning may be gastrointestinal upset, muscle weakness, loss of coordination, or cardiac effects. Some safe, easy to grow, veggie plant alternatives are cucumbers, carrots, or green beans! Skip the tomato plant, and just keep a store-bought love apple in the fridge for those summer sandwich hankerings. For information on more foods that are toxic to dogs, read here.
Spring brings us the promise of cheerful, colorful blooms. But those friendly tulips, particularly tulip bulbs, contain toxins that can cause issues for your pets. According to the ASPCA, “The toxins are most concentrated in the bulbs of the plant, making them the most dangerous part. Depending on how much your pet ingests, and which parts of the plant are ingested, significant vomiting or diarrhea may occur, which can lead to more serious concerns such as dehydration, lethargy, and abdominal pain”. Tu-lips might be good for talking, but they are bad for eating (lame dad joke, sorry). Displaying these flowers in a pretty Easter vase is tempting, but if you own a dog then we suggest you choose daffodils instead!
This list contains just a few of the more common household plants that can be detrimental to dogs. For a more extensive list of plants that are harmful to dogs, be sure to check out the ASPCA’s literature here.
Symptoms typically occur within the first 24 hours of ingestion. If you have any concerns that your pet may be showing signs of toxicity, it’s key to remain calm and contact your veterinarian immediately. You can also call the Animal Poison Control Center at their 24/7 helpline (855-764-7661) or visit their website.
The good news is that having a pet doesn’t mean you have to forgo your dreams of also being a plant parent. There are several non-toxic plant options, including bamboo, rubber plants, and Boston ferns. You could also consider a plant hanger to enjoy those beautiful greens while keeping the temptation to taste out of your dog’s reach. Do be sure to promptly dispose of any leaves that may drop to the ground.
You want your home to be a haven for you and your dog. Bring in the nurture of nature! Being informed and keeping toxic plants away will ensure that you and your furry best friend can feel free to eat, drink, and be rosemary.