Plants and Pets – Wintering Together

cat playing with cat grass Our first freeze warning has come and gone. It’s the time of the year when many start making room indoors for outdoor plants or start shopping for indoor plants to offset winter’s monochromatic view.

Pets will be spending more time indoors too. This can lead to bad outcomes if pet decides plant is their veg of the day.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), each year hundreds of dogs and cats are made ill – or worse – by eating plants (and human foods).

Reactions range from mild mouth discomfort to kidney damage to death.

Some of the typical sources of poisoning:

Abutilon Plant may be dangerous to pets

Abutilon (Flowering or parlor maple)

Aloe Vera Plant may be danderous to pets

Aloe Vera

Amaryllis plant may be harmful to pets

Source: Wikipedia

Calla Lilly plant indoors may be harmful to pets

Calla Lilly

Cyclamen Plant may be dangerous to pets


Dieffenbachia plant indoors may be harmful to pets


Hibiscus plant indoors may be harmful to pets


Kalanchoe plants may be harmful to pets


Oleander plant may be harmful to pets


Sago palm tree indoors may be harmful to pets

Sago Palm

poinon safety kit to have on hand for pets -- pet medical key for home

Signs to watch for include:

  • (excessive) drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty swallowing

Some poisonings can be treated but, sadly, some cannot. An extensive list of toxic and non-toxic plants can be searched, sorted by animal type (cat, dog, horse) and toxicity type with descriptor at the ASPCA website.

It’s worth the time to go through this list. And yeah, there’s an app for that too.

EntirelyPets Daily Deal - A new deal daily

In an aside, the website also provides lists of human foods – like macadamia nuts and avocados that can harm your pet, birds included.

Although listed as a plant, aloe vera – ironically, a plant known in the holistic medicine world for its healing properties inside and outside the body – will cause a host of nasty reactions in dogs and cats including depression, severe vomiting, diarrhea, and anorexia.

A 24-hour hotline is available for questions and concerns at 1-888-426-4435. A service fee may apply.


Greening your pet’s diet will reduce the likelihood of them turning to your plants. Increasingly, pet foods come with good grains, vegs, and fruits.

One holistic vet writes enthusiastically about including these in a pet’s diet. But still, because Murphy lives at every house, the common sense thing is to a) put plants out of reach of curious noses or b) gift your plant to a pet-free friend’s house.

Another option would be to turn your gardening skills to cultivating a pet garden. Oat, barley, rye, or wheat grass, in addition to catnip are favorites with cats.

Wintering with plants and pets can be a healthy and happy winter for all concerned – with a little planning.


Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants. ASPCA

24 Common Plants Poisonous to Pets. Breyer M.

How Does Your Cat Grass Grow? Plant a Feline-Friendly Indoor Garden. Bergstrom L.  All Animals magazine, January February 2010. Posted to The Humane Society, October 2012.


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One thought on “Plants and Pets – Wintering Together

  • Hosting

    Animals will often chew plants to get some roughage . For dogs this is because they are omnivores and actually enjoy plant foods. Plant roughage can be a good source of vitamins and can be helpful for passing food through the intestines. Cats are strictly carnivorous, but eating plants can benefit them by helping to bind hair in the stomach and carry it back out when they hack the hair out through their esophagus and mouth. However, animals also eat leaves for reasons we do not always understand. This is especially true for pets that are kept indoors most or all of the time, since they have not learned which plants taste bad and should be avoided, or they do not have enough access to plants and will chew on whatever is accessible.