Image of a cat smelling a potted tulip.

Plant Safety Tips for Pets

Updated December 3, 2021 . AmFam Team

Does your pet love to stop and smell the roses? What if they eat one? Get to know the ins and outs of how to manage pets and plants around the house. Keep your furry friends safe with this informative guide on ways to deal with toxic plants and pets.

When it comes to your pets, you’ll do anything you can to keep them safe and happy — and that includes stopping them from munching on things they shouldn’t. You probably know of foods you shouldn’t feed them, but have you thought about which plants they should stay away from? Plants can pose health risks ranging from a mild upset stomach to serious problems for the furry friends that share our homes. These tips on plants and pet safety can help you to prevent issues before they become problems.

Household Poisonous Plants and Your Pets

Plants that are toxic to cats and dogs are often not labeled as unsafe to pets at garden centers and stores. With over 700 plants known to be toxic to mammals in one way or another, it’s really important to know that the plants you have indoors — or even in your back yard — are safe for dogs and cats.

Some Poisonous Plants for Cats and Dogs

Though these plants vary in toxicity and severity of symptoms, avoid bringing them into and around your home to safeguard your animal family members from harm:


Toxic Elements

Aloe Vera

Entire plant


Leaves, flowers


Tubers & roots

Castor Bean

Entire plant, but especially the beans


Entire plant





Elephant’s Ear

Entire plant




Leaves, roots

Ivy (all varieties)

Entire plants, berries especially

Lilly (all varieties)

Entire plants


Entire plant

Morning Glory

Seeds, roots




Leaves, stem, flowers





Sago Palm

Entire plant, especially seeds

Tomato Plant



Bark, leaves, seeds

It’s great to study up on these pet smarts, but accidents can happen even in the most careful environments. So, if you’ve got a cat or dog, make sure you know these common symptoms of a poisoned pet so you can act quickly in the event of the unexpected:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Excessive drooling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea
  • Depression
  • Collapse

If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, be sure to call your local vet or the numbers above right away to get their health back on track. More great advice on taking care of your dog in emergencies is found in our section on doggie first aid. Pack up a kit and take it with you the next time you’re traveling with your dog.

Contacting the Pet Poison Helpline or Pet Poison Control

If you know that your pet’s eaten something toxic, or even if you’re just worried they may have nibbled on something, it may be important to take action right away. It’s key to have details on what part of the plant your pet’s eaten because toxicity can vary according to leaf, stem, root, berry, etc.

If you can’t name the plant, don’t worry. So long as you’ve got the plant in front of you, you’ll often be able to identify the name of it by looking carefully at the leaves or other features. And the people you call for help should be able to help you figure out what the plant is. Look on the container, package or a label in the dirt that can help you to identify the plant.

You can find guidance on what to do next by calling these important numbers:

  • Pet Poison Helpline: 588-764-7661
  • ASPCA Pet Poison Control: 800-426-4435
  • Your veterinarian

Pet Poison Apps

Technology has made for big advances in the field of food and plant toxicity for pets. Suppose you arrive home to find that your dog has turned your favorite patch of tulips into an afternoon snack. Now, you can turn to an app to learn if further action needs to be taken. Although these apps don’t contain a full list of everything that’s toxic to animals, they do a great job of offering up a lot of reference material quickly on plants, foods and medications known to be trouble to your furry friends.

The apps below offer one-touch dialing to their pet poison control centers. And these apps can really save the day if you’re out of cell range and you find yourself in a pet emergency. If you’re going to have a pet sitter watch your pet, have them download the app. More key tips on hiring help for your pets can be found in our article on finding a top-notch pet sitter.

The APCC mobile app. The ASPCA has produced a great app that can help you understand the urgency of a given poisoning situation. Start by selecting dog, cat, bird or horse and then enter in the name of the plant, food, medication, etc. into the app. You’ll receive details on toxicity and what you’ll need to do to combat the problem. With over 300 every day and household hazards indexed, the app provides you hands-on details and instructions.

Pet Poison Helpline app. This app also contains a searchable database that comes with photos of all indexed items. It includes descriptions of how various toxic items effect your pet, and references poisons with alternate and commonly used names. It offers instructions on what to do when dangerous substances and symptoms are in play.

You may not be able to control everything your pets do — or everything they eat. But you can help to control the outcome by being informed and acting quickly when you notice something’s wrong. So get in touch with your agent today to be sure ask how we can better cover your family and your pets. And to be prepared for any medical emergency, consider pet insurance with American Family Insurance. It could save you thousands of dollars in vet bells and policies start for as little as $1 a day. You’ll be glad you did when you’ve got the coverage you need.

This article is for informational purposes only and includes information widely available through different sources.

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