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Safe Houseplants for Pets


If you have pets, choosing houseplants becomes a little more complicated than simply picking ones that are visually appealing and appropriate for the conditions you can provide. Many houseplants can make your furry family members sick. If you have a cat, you need to be especially careful as they absolutely love to munch on plants. The best thing to do is to keep all your plants out of your pet's reach, but that's not always possible, so here are some tips:

Know what you're buying! Avoid plants that are unlabeled or have a generic "Tropical Foliage" tag unless you know exactly what the plant is.

Also avoid houseplants that produce berries such as Coral Berry (Ardisia crenulata) as they are just too tempting to pets!

Avoid obvious dangers like cacti. Pets don't understand that the spines are sharp and that could result in a painful trip to the vet.

Oleander should NEVER be used as a houseplant. While beautiful, they are also so toxic that a single leaf can kill a pet-or a human.

Most other houseplants known that toxic aren't likely to kill your pets, but they will make them sick. For example:

The sap of Dumb Cane(Dieffenbachia) can cause mouth irritation and swelling.

Ingesting the leaves of Philodendron can cause irritated and itchy skin.

Any of the varieties of Pothos (Golden, Marble, Neon, Satin, or Jade) will cause vomiting if ingested.

English Ivy can cause a variety of reactions from a blistering rash to vomiting and difficulty breathing.

The bark of Crotons (Codiaeum Variegatum) can cause burning of the mouth.

While the gel in the leaves of Aloe Vera have long been prized for their skin healing qualities (no kitchen should be without one), ingestion will irritate the intestinal tract and result in vomiting and diarrhea.

The leaves of the Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera Deliciosa) can cause loss of voice and burning of the mouth.

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima), everyone's favorite at Christmas, can cause mouth irritation, vomiting, and nausea.

Don't let this scare you away from houseplants. They can still be kept and enjoyed as long as you keep them out of your petís reach, and there are also many houseplants that are harmless to your pets. Here is a list of the most popular:

African Violets (Saintpaulia)
Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus australis)
Zebra Plant (Calathea zebrina)
Wandering Jew (Zebrina pendula)
Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura)
Peperomia
Jade Plant (Crassula argentea)

You can also buy pots of cat grass (and seeds) at many pet stores to keep your feline happy and away from your houseplants.

Itís always a good idea to have the numbers for poison control available at all times. Call 1-800-222-1222 for people, and for animals you can call the ASPCA Animals Control Center at (888) 426-4435. A consultation fee may apply. Put safety first and all houseplants can be enjoyed in your home!



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Content copyright © 2014 by Sue Walsh. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Sue Walsh. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Sue Walsh for details.

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