There is no surprise why succulents are so popular these days. They are beautiful plants and, as such, very Instagram-worthy.
With their fleshy leaves, these drought-tolerant plants make plant care easy, even for new growers. Indeed, these air-purifying and low-maintenance plants are great for both young and old plant lovers alike.
However, did you know that some of the most popular succulents are toxic to animals? It is certainly something that you should consider before getting a new succulent or cactus plant, especially if you have furry friends at home.
Join us as we list both poisonous and non-poisonous succulent plants to give you some choices the next time you find yourself shopping for a new houseplant
- Are Succulents Plants Poisonous To Cats and Dogs?
- Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants
- Succulents That Are Toxic for Your Pets
- Succulents That Are Safe for Your Pets
- Tips on How To Protect Your Pets From Toxic Houseplants
- 1. Research Your Plants Before You Buy Them
- 2. Keep Your Plants Out of Reach
- 3. Use a Deterrent
- What To Do if Your Pet Eats a Succulent
- Succulent Toxicity To Cats and Dogs
Are Succulents Plants Poisonous To Cats and Dogs?
First of all, let us start by saying that not all succulents are poisonous to pets. Most animals also instinctively avoid eating them. At the very least, our feline friend won’t find its smell or taste very appetizing.
We understand that there will be some exceptions. After all, our animal friends have different personalities and quirks.
Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants
We believe that in keeping our pets safe, it is better to be safe than sorry. Hence, here are two quick lists of both toxic and non-toxic succulents for your easy reference.
Please take note that they're in no way a complete list of all of the poisonous succulents out there. We have simply chosen the ones that are most commonly cared for as houseplants.
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Succulents That Are Toxic for Your Pets
Here are a number of succulents that you should avoid if you have pets at home:
- Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is referred to as the “wonder plant” for its numerous medicinal properties. Unfortunately, its health benefits only apply to humans and don’t extend to cats, dogs, and horses.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (or ASPCA), our favorite aloe plants have compounds called saponins. When ingested by the animals we’ve mentioned, they can cause stomach upset, vomiting, and lethargy.
- Pencil Cactus
Also called sticks of fire, the pencil cactus is a stunning plant that ranges from deep green to blazing orange-red. It has characteristics that can set it apart from other cacti.
For one, instead of having a large fleshy body surrounded with thorns, this plant has slender, cylindrical branches. In fact, it doesn’t even have any thorns at all. What it does have, is latex in its sap that can be dangerous not just to animals but humans as well.
According to research published by the Indian Journal of Ophthalmology, the milky sap of this succulent plant is highly toxic and can cause skin and eye irritation. That’s why they advise plant carers to wear eye protection when handling the plant.
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center also has deemed it toxic to cats, dogs, and horses. Clinical signs include mouth irritation, stomach irritation, and vomiting.
- Jade Plant
Scientifically known as Crassula ovata, the jade plant is definitely one of the most popular succulents out there. It was already a common houseplant even before succulents exploded in social media these past few years.
That’s because this plant is considered in Asian cultures to be a good luck charm. That’s also why this charming plant with its thick, glossy oval-shaped leaves, goes by other names such as money tree, money plant, and lucky plant.
Don’t confuse this plant with Pilea peperomiodes, also called the Chinese Money plant, or the Pachira aquatica, another common houseplant referred to as “Money Tree”. Both of these plants have been deemed non-toxic to our pets by the ASPCA.
Sadly, instead of good luck, the jade plant can cause our pets vomiting, incoordination, confusion, and depression.
- String of Pearls
String of pearls didn’t just gain renown for its beauty, but also its scent. Its oddly furry leaves and white flowers produce a sweet, vanilla-like scent. You can certainly grow it outdoors, but due to its low frost tolerance and weakness from direct sunlight, string of pearls is commonly kept indoors.
You should know, though, that according to a report published by the University of California, Davis, this succulent is classified with a toxicity class of 2 and 4. This means that accidental ingestion of this plant can lead to vomiting or diarrhea and its sap can cause skin irritation after contact. This applies not just to our pets, but to us humans too.
- Snake Plant
Have you ever wondered why snake plants are so common in office spaces? Yes, their tall, chunky leaves do look pretty with their interesting patterns and golden yellow lining. More than that, they're also low-maintenance and thrive well even in low light conditions.
Curiously, even if the plant does have a history of being used as a herbal remedy in ancient medicinal cultures, snake plants are actually poisonous when ingested. High doses can cause several symptoms of poisoning, including nausea and vomiting.
It even proves more toxic to our pets. According to the American Kennel Club, the toxic compound in snake plants can cause gastrointestinal irritation, vomiting, and diarrhea to our pets as well.
Succulents That Are Safe for Your Pets
Fortunately, not all succulents are harmful to our pets, including:
- Zebra Haworthia
The zebra haworthia, also sometimes known as the zebra cactus or zebra plant, is deemed safe for pets. It is a beautiful plant with long, dark green, and quite spiky-looking leaves. These leaves have white ridges that look similar to zebra stripes, hence the plant’s name.
In fact, due to the similarities between their aesthetics, it’s the plant that we’d recommend to those who want to grow aloe vera for its looks.
Words cannot express how happy we were when we found out that our favorite echeveria succulents were not toxic to pets. It is our favorite succulent variety to grow. That's because of its wide range of colors, leaf shapes, and plant structure.
It's also very versatile and can be used in different plant arrangements. Just scroll through the succulents on Instagram to get some inspiration on how you can proudly display your echeveria collection.
Here’s another non-toxic plant making waves on social media. Sempervivum may look similar to echeveria, but look a little bit closer and you’ll find the notable differences that set them apart.
After all, sempervivum’s leaves tend to be more pointed. We’ve also found their patterns more hypnotic and symmetrical. It’s almost as if you’re staring into sacred geometry itself.
These are even just a few examples. There are more non-poisonous succulent plants out there aside from the ones we have already featured above.
Tips on How To Protect Your Pets From Toxic Houseplants
Plant care can be quite tricky when you have to consider the safety of your pets as well. Fortunately, most of the unfortunate consequences that await your pets after ingesting toxic succulents can easily be avoided with the following steps:
1. Research Your Plants Before You Buy Them
The first step in preventing your plants from getting poisoned by toxic plants is to simply refrain from taking them home. Don’t just buy plants from your local nursery just because they look cute. We get it.
For instance, what succulent lover can ever say no to a Kalanchoe? However, also known as the chandelier plant, it can also cause your pets to have an abnormal heart rhythm when ingested according to the ASPCA. Yikes.
2. Keep Your Plants Out of Reach
Maybe you have only recently learned that some succulents are harmful to your pets? Or somebody else has gifted you a plant that you simply can’t throw away?
There are different ways for a toxic plant to end up in your garden. If that’s the case, then you can simply relocate your plant to a spot where your pet won’t be able to reach it. Most of these poisonous succulents still look great even when planted on hanging planters, after all.
3. Use a Deterrent
You can plant-friendly pet deterrents on your plants. Citrus peels and coffee grounds have strong scents that cats and dogs hate. The good news is, they can even double as fertilizer.
What To Do if Your Pet Eats a Succulent
Even our best efforts can’t prevent some accidents from happening. If you’ve found that your pet had just ingested a toxic plant, then be sure to contact ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s hotline. They also have a comprehensive list of toxic plants that you can check out for more information.
You also need to keep in mind that even non-toxic succulents can still cause oral irritation and mild stomach upset when ingested. Hence, it’s best to prevent your pets from ingesting any succulents if you can.
Succulent Toxicity To Cats and Dogs
Succulents may be the best houseplants, but they’re not always the best for your furry family. There are times when they can cause harm. Some varieties are known for their toxic compounds, after all.
Still, don’t think that your plants and pets can’t coexist within the same space because they can. There are just some preventive measures that you can practice to prevent your pets from accidentally ingesting something harmful to them. There are also animal protection centers that can help you in case of emergencies.