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The Plant Parent’s Guide to Pet-Friendly vs. Toxic Houseplants

The Plant Parent’s Guide to Pet-Friendly vs. Toxic Houseplants

Pets and plants have a lot in common: they both require our attention and care, they make us happy, and we love to take photos of them. It’s no wonder that many plant parents double as pet parents! 

While leafy and furry friends significantly improve our well-being, they’re not always compatible with one another. Many common indoor plant varieties can cause vomiting and gastrointestinal upset if ingested by dogs and cats.

While some plants cause pets to get mildly sick, others can have more serious side effects like liver damage, difficulty breathing, and slower heart rate.

Before you go plant shopping, or perhaps take inventory of existing houseplants, you’ll want to know which ones are safe for your pets and which to avoid.

In this guide, we’ll go through some common indoor plants that the ASPCA classifies as safe and some that are dangerous for pets. Keep in mind that even non-toxic plants can cause GI upset if ingested, and should be kept out of reach of pets as much as possible.

Houseplants That are Safe for Cats and Dogs

If you're a pet parent and a plant parent, keep this list of pet-friendly houseplants in mind the next time you go plant shopping:

Air plants

While air plants aren’t toxic if ingested, their small size makes them a choking hazard and so should be kept away from curious pets. 

Pet-Friendly Ferns

  • Bird's Nest Fern
  • Blue Star Fern
  • Boston Fern

Non-toxic Succulents

  • Burro's Tail
  • Cactus
  • Hens and Chickens
  • Haworthia
  • String of Hearts

Pet-friendly Palm Plants

  • Areca Palm
  • Butterfly Palm 
  • Parlor Palm
  • Ponytail palm

Other Pet-Friendly Houseplants:

  • Calathea
  • Hoya
  • Maranta
  • Bromeliads 
  • Stromanthe

Indoor Plants That are Toxic to Cats and Dogs

While many of the houseplants on this list are trendy and beautiful, it's a good idea to keep them away from your pets.

Asparagus Fern

Also called emerald feather, emerald fern, sprengeri fern, plumosa fern, and lace fern, the asparagus fern is toxic to dogs and cats. Not only do they cause allergic dermatitis with repeated skin exposure, but they also have berries that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain if ingested. While the asparagus fern is toxic to pets, other fern varieties like Bird’s Nest and Boston Fern are pet-friendly. 

Bird of Paradise

Despite being beautiful and exotic, the bird of paradise plant is dangerous for pets. Their flower seeds contain toxic tannins and the leaves contain hydrocyanic acid, making them very unsafe for pets.


Also known as Nephthytis, Green Gold Naphthysis, African Evergreen, and Trileaf Wonder, this vine plant contains insoluble calcium oxalates that cause oral irritation, swelling, and difficulty swallowing if ingested.


Ficus plants and pets are not friends. Common ficus houseplant varieties like Ficus elastica (Rubber plant), Ficus lyrata (Fiddle Leaf Fig tree), and Ficus maclellandii all contain poisonous sap that can cause dermal and gastrointestinal irritation in cats and dogs. Make sure to keep your furry friends away from this toxic plant species.

Toxic Succulents:

Some succulents are pet-friendly, while others are not. Below are succulent varieties that are unsafe for cats and dogs:

  • Aloe
  • Jade
  • Kalanchoe
  • String of pearls
  • Snake plant (Mother in law’s tongue)

Chinese Evergreen

Like other Araceae varieties, Chinese Evergreen are toxic to pets because of their insoluble calcium oxalates. If ingested, they can cause oral irritation, pain and swelling of the mouth, and difficulty swallowing. 


Croton plants should be kept away from cats and dogs, as they can cause skin and gastrointestinal irritation.


Dracaena varieties such as dragon plant contain saponins, which are toxic to pets. 


While there are many philodendron varieties, the most common indoor varieties include heart leaf philodendron and split leaf philodendron (aka Monstera). As they are part of the Araceae family, all philodendron varieties are toxic to pets. 

Sago Palm

While all parts of sago palm are considered poisonous to pets, the seeds, or nuts, are the most toxic part of the plant. The sago palm contains cycasin, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and in some cases, seizures, lethargy, and liver failure. 

Wandering Jew

Also known as Tradescantia zebrina, fluminensis, or pallida, wandering jew plants are considered toxic to cats and allergy-inducing to dogs. 

Other Toxic Plants:

  • Dumb Cane
  • English Ivy
  • Peace Lily
  • Pothos
  • Rhaphidophora tetrasperma
  • Yucca Plant
  • Zz Plant (Zamioculcas zamifolia)

There you have it! Sleep soundly through the night knowing your pets are safe around your houseplants.


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