Many people believe that a house isn’t truly a home unless it has pets and plants. Flora and fauna can coexist peacefully, but not all plants are pet-safe. Even the most well-behaved pets will nibble on a succulent from time to time. Furthermore, many popular and appealing succulents are highly poisonous, resulting in medical emergencies and the untimely death of your four-legged family members.
A succulent’s safety cannot always be determined by its appearance, unless it is a spiny cactus. As a responsible pet owner, you should investigate the toxicity of any plant you bring into your home.
We sought advice from reputable organizations such as the ASPCA, FDA, Pet Poison Helpline, and various veterinary associations. We’ve also thoroughly researched and reviewed major university agriculture departments’ lists of poisonous and safe plants to see if they’re harmful to pets.
We’ll also recommend safe succulents to replace toxic succulents.
Are Succulents Safe For Cats, Dogs, And Other Pets?
Succulent is a broad category that includes a wide variety of plants. To keep hungry herbivores at bay, they frequently employ a variety of defense mechanisms.
Some cacti have spines and tough skin, while others contain toxic substances that burn the mouth, cause blood or heart damage, and cause gastrointestinal symptoms (vomiting and diarrhea).
Poisonous succulents range in toxicity from the relatively mild jade and aloe vera to the potentially lethal crown of thorns or kalanchoe.
None of this should put you off keeping succulents! Even if you exclude the pointy and poisonous species, there are plenty of great pet-safe succulents to choose from.
Furthermore, the majority of potentially lethal plants for pets are not succulents, such as oleander, lilies, cyclamen, elephant’s ear, fiddle leaf fig, and sago palm.
If you follow our advice, catching your pet nibbling on your houseplants will not be a capital offense. However, it is important to note that in most cases, the sources we rely on only specify safety for cats, dogs, and, on rare occasions, horses. If you have birds, reptiles, or other exotic pets, you should consult a veterinarian before adding new plants to their diet.
17 Succulents That Are Poisonous For Pets
Many people consider agave to be edible; after all, one variety is used to make a popular sugar substitute. Agave plants, on the other hand, make terrible chew toys.
Agave leaves contain oxalate crystals in their sap, which can irritate the skin, mouth, and throat, causing breathing difficulties and burning pain. They can also cause dermatitis and digestive issues. It is a mild toxin that is unlikely to be fatal, but it is best to keep it away from house pets.
Although the spiky leaves of Aloe barbadensis miller are well known for their medicinal properties, it may surprise you that aloe vera is poisonous when consumed by some pets.
If cats, dogs, or reptiles consume aloe vera, they may experience gastrointestinal symptoms and lethargy. Horses, on the other hand, can consume aloe vera to treat digestive issues.
Although Adenium obesum appears to be a dwarf tree with a swollen base, it is actually a semi-succulent shrub. In hot climates, it is popular for growing beautiful fuschia and white flowers.
Unfortunately, the plant and its sap contain a potentially lethal cardiac toxin.
Because it is so toxic, it was historically used on arrowheads throughout much of Africa. It has the potential to be lethal if consumed by animals or humans.
The vast genus Euphorbia contains a remarkable diversity of toxic succulents. Many are highly toxic and should be avoided.
We recommend avoiding all Euphorbia species in homes with toddlers or pets unless you have done extensive research and are extremely confident that the specific species you’re considering is non-toxic.
The following are some of the most common Euphorbia species found in garden centers.
Crown of Thorns
Because of its showy red flowers, the crown of thorns, Euphorbia milii, is a popular houseplant. Unfortunately, the plant contains a white sap that can cause vomiting, drooling, severe mouth and gastrointestinal tract irritation, and diarrhea if consumed.
If your pet touches it and then wipes its eye with its paw, it can cause eye irritation or ulceration. Although the irritation deters pets from eating much of this plant, it is so dangerous that it should never be available to children, cats, dogs, horses, or other pets.
The pencil cactus, Euphorbia tirucalli, has tall, thin spindles that are typically green but turn red in bright sunlight, making it a lovely option for pet-free homes.
They do, however, contain the latex-like sap typical of Euphorbia species, which is hazardous to your pets. Consuming can cause gastrointestinal issues, but it usually irritates the mouth quickly enough that the pet will not eat any more.
Most people are aware that poinsettias are mild to moderately toxic, but you may be unaware that they are also succulent.
Poinsettias are members of the Euphorbia family and have a white latex-like sap that is irritant and can cause gastrointestinal problems if consumed.
Don’t be fooled by the fact that Kalanchoe blossfeldiana has yellow, orange, pink, or red flowers. Kalanchoe is extremely toxic to pets and requires immediate medical attention. Kalanchoe poisoning can cause serious heart problems such as arrhythmia, in addition to gastrointestinal issues. Kalanchoe should not be grown in homes with pets.
Fairy Castle Cactus
Acanthocereus tetragonus, or fairy castle cactus, is a clump of fleshy five-sided branches. The five ridges are covered in tiny wooly spines. This cactus is mildly toxic in addition to its spines.
It is not a good choice if you have a pet with a severe plant-eating habit. However, given its low toxicity, the rough edges may deter many pets from eating enough of this cactus to become ill.
Crassula argentea is a popular houseplant also known as jade plant, baby jade, or dwarf rubber plant. Its lobular, lush green leaves are mildly toxic.
In cats and dogs, they can cause diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, impaired coordination, and decreased appetite.
Pachypodium lamerei may resemble a palm, but it is actually a succulent related to cacti. It contains a highly toxic toxin that can cause gastrointestinal issues. It is, however, sharp and spiny, and its sap causes dermatitis, so pets rarely consume enough of it to cause a serious problem.
However, if you catch your pet eating any, you should consult a veterinarian.
Senecio plants are toxic to cats, dogs, and horses due to the presence of pyrrolizidine alkaloids. It is not kept as a houseplant and is not palatable enough for animals to eat much of it.
When mixed with hay and consumed by horses, it can cause liver failure, walking disease, neurological problems, and other potentially fatal symptoms.
The silver squill, Ledebouria socialis, also known as wood hyacinth, has attractive silver and green mottled leaves with purple undersides, making it an appealing shade-tolerant houseplant. However, all parts of the plant are toxic to humans and animals.
Sansevieria trifasciata, also known as mother-in-tongue, law’s has two common names that both allude to the plant’s low toxicity. The brightly colored leaves, stems, and berries can cause gastrointestinal symptoms as well as dermatitis, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, or an allergic reaction.
However, due to the bitter flavor and burning sensation in the mouth, most animals do not consume enough to become ill.
String Of Pearls
Many pets mistake the beautiful trailing vines of a hanging string of pearls plant, Senecio rowleyanus, for a toy. They are, however, mildly to moderately toxic. If your pet manages to nibble some, it can cause lethargy and digestive issues.
Keep this plant out of reach of your four-legged friend for their safety and your peace of mind. If any leaves or branches fall to the ground, clean them up right away.
Peyote, Lophophora williamsii, is an attractive ornamental cactus that is also well known for its medicinal and religious uses, as well as its psychotropic effects, but it is a potentially poisonous plant that should not be left around pets.
Aside from gastrointestinal symptoms, your pets may also experience breathing difficulties and even become intoxicated or psychotropic. Keep all drugs, including peyote, away from your pets. You wouldn’t want your good boy to have a bad trip.
These plants are toxic enough to be considered weeds rather than houseplants. Tylecodon contains such potent nerve and muscle poisons that consuming livestock that has eaten this plant can poison you as well.
Although yucca is a tasty starch found in many human diets, yucca canes are toxic to pets.
Housepets pose a greater risk to grazing animals because they are unlikely to consume enough to cause anything more than mild gastrointestinal symptoms. If horses are allowed access, they may consume enough food to cause dermatitis and even liver disease.
Pet Safe Succulents
Many succulents are perfectly safe to have around your cats and dogs, which is great news for plant lovers everywhere. Of course, you should still train your pet not to eat these plants, and eating almost any plant on an empty stomach, or eating a large amount of the plant, can cause vomiting. Regardless, none of these succulents will require a trip to the veterinarian.
Keep in mind that reptiles, birds, and horses are occasionally exceptions to these general rules. If you are unsure about bringing a plant into your home, it is always best to consult your veterinarian.
- Chinese money plant, Pilea peperomiodes (but do not confuse it with unrelated plants that have similar names but are toxic, including money tree or money plant, a.k.a jade, or money tree, pachira aquatica)
- Christmas cactus, Schlumbergera
- The Echeveria genus (such as lipstick echeveria, Echeveria agavoides, and red echeveria, Echeveria Pulv-oliver)
- Elephant bush, Portulacaria afra (but note that the unrelated “elephant ear plant,” a.k.a taro or Colocasia, is toxic, as is elephant bush’s look-alike plant, jade)
- Hens and Chicks, Sempervivum tectorum
- Ice Plant, Lampranthus piquet (but do not mix it up with slenderleaf ice plant, Mesembryanthemum nodiflorum, which can be very toxic)
- Living Stones, Lithops naureeniae
- Moon cactus, Gymnocalycium mihanovichii (generally considered non-toxic, but make sure that the host cactus it is grafted onto is also a pet-safe species)
- Prickly pear cactus, Opuntia
- The Sedum genus (such as coppertone sedum, Sedum nussbaumerianum, burro’s tail, Sedum morganianum, and ghost plant, Sedum weinbergii) is generally deemed pet-safe. However, some contain minute amounts of oxalic acid.
- Zebra plants (including Haworthiopsis fasciata and Haworthiopsis attenuata, as well as the non-succulent zebra plant Aphelandra squarrosa)
Other succulents were not included because there is a low chance that they will poison your pet. We chose not to include them because our knowledgeable sources either disagreed with us or could not confirm their safety.
To be on the safe side, we have also purposefully excluded succulents that are difficult for customers to distinguish between related species. This includes species with the same common name on the market. It is always preferable to be safe than sorry.
How Do I Keep My Cat Out Of My Succulents?
Some cats are completely uninterested in potted plants and ornamentals, while others may become obsessed with them. Hunger, boredom, curiosity, or even an attempt to settle an upset stomach can all motivate them.
Even the most well-behaved cats may take a nibble on rare occasions, so it’s best not to keep any toxic plants in your home.
Keep your succulents out of reach if you want to keep mildly toxic plants or if you want to protect your safe plants from untimely pruning.
This may imply displaying your plants on a tall bookshelf, a wall shelf, or a hanging planter. Keep in mind that some cats can jump very high when stimulated.
You can use cat-deterrent scents like citrus (you can add peels to the top of the pot), vinegar (spray diluted vinegar on the pot, not the plant) or pepper to deter your cats from chewing up non-toxic plants (such spraying the pot with a mixture of cayenne pepper dissolved in water).
You can also use materials that your cat won’t want to walk on around the succulent pot, such as double-sided sticky tape, aluminum foil, or a spiky plastic mat. Using these for a few weeks after introducing a new houseplant can sometimes be enough to deter your pet’s interest.
If your feline companion enjoys chewing plants, a safer alternative such as pet grass and potted catnip may be a better option.
If all else fails, you can employ training techniques. The best option is to use positive reinforcement such as treats to teach commands such as “get down” or “leave it.” Other methods of training are intended to distract your pet and lead them to associate the plant with mildly negative stimuli. For an auditory deterrent, squirt the cat with water or shake a tin can with some coins in it.
We don’t recommend more severe training if none of these methods work — no plant is worth it. Simply choose a plant that is less appealing to your pet.
How Do I Stop My Dog From Eating My Succulents?
Dogs may be more trainable than cats, but they are also more likely to be drawn to your houseplants. That means keeping toxic plants in your home isn’t worth the risk.
The good news is that most dogs lack the jumping ability of cats, so placing plants on a medium-high shelf may be sufficient to keep them out of reach. So, if you go looking for mildly toxic plants, keep an eye out for dried bits that may break off the plant and fall to the floor.
Teaching boundaries (for example, that certain rooms or pieces of furniture are off-limits) is critical for basic dog training. “Leave it” is another useful command for managing your dog’s interest in your houseplants. Consider using fencing to keep your dog away from dangerous plants if the plants are outside.
Some of the same repellent substances and methods, such as citrus, may be effective in preventing your dog from developing a houseplant habit. To deter your dog, you can spray it with water or make a distracting noise, just like cats.
Picking Perfect Plants For Pets
Wild animals typically understand which plants are safe to eat and which should be avoided, whether by nature or nurture. Domesticated animals lack this sense and rely on humans to keep them safe. You can have happy houseplants as well as healthy pets. Just make sure to choose succulents that are non-toxic, according to experts.