Is Golden Pothos Poisonous? Understanding Risks for Cats, Dogs, and Humans

By: Matt Slaymaker
March 25, 2024
Golden Pothos Toxicity
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The Golden Pothos (Epipremnum Aureus), a gorgeous plant with heart-shaped leaves, is an excellent choice for indoor spaces. It's an air-purifying plant, which removes toxins form the air. But you may have heard that the golden pothos is toxic to cats, dogs, and people.  

So, although popular, the plant isn't ideal for homes with pets and young kids. It contains toxic substances that can cause from mild to severe reactions in pets and children if ingested. No wonder it’s sometimes referred to as the Devil's Ivy! 

Let's learn a little more about this beautiful trailing vine.

Is Golden Pothos Poisonous?

The golden pothos contains a biomineral called calcium oxalate in crystal form, which is toxic. These crystals are tiny and needle-like and can cause adverse side effects if pets and children chew or ingest part of the leaves and stems of the plant. The same is true for other pothos varieties, such as the Pothos Pearl Jade, Marble Queen Pothos, Silver Splash Pothos, and more.

The intensity of the toxicity may vary with these species. But they all cause some level of oral and gastrointestinal issues like irritation, swelling, vomiting, as well as difficulty in swallowing. 

Is Golden Pothos Toxic to Cats? 

Is Golden Pothos Toxic to Cats
Source: Reddit

The needle-like calcium oxalate crystals in golden pothos are toxic to cats. Although moderately harmful, the symptoms from ingesting the plant (even in small quantities) can be quite uncomfortable, causing stinging sensation in your kitty's mouth, drooling, vomiting, and a stomach upset. 

But is the golden pothos poisonous to cats in a lethal way? In rare but severe cases, it can affect your cat’s kidneys, heart, and lungs, and cause death. This is especially true if the cat is too young or old, or has it has kidney problems, or other health issues.

What Happens If My Cat Eats a Golden Pothos?

If your cat eats a golden pothos, it will display the following symptoms quite quickly:

  • Inflammation in mouth, tongue, and lips
  • Excessive drooling
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Vomiting
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Appetite loss
  • Withdrawal and hiding

How Long Does It Take Pothos to Make a Cat Sick

The side effects of chewing a golden pothos show immediately after a cat eats any plant parts. Take your cat to a vet straight away or contact Pet Poison Control

The toxic crystals can affect adversely your cat’s kidneys, heart, or lungs if no immediate action is taken. They can cause renal failure or cardiopulmonary issues within 12-48 hours, leading to death.

Is Golden Pothos Toxic to Dogs?

Is Golden Pothos Poisonous to Dogs
Source: Reddit

The non-soluble, needle-shaped calcium oxalate crystals in golden pothos make it toxic for dogs, as well. The poisonous Devil’s ivy can irritate your canine companion’s throat and stomach if ingested. Your dog may experience pain, inflammation, possible airway obstruction, irregular heartbeat and difficulty in breathing.

Is golden pothos poisonous to dogs if consumed in large quantities? It can cause renal or cardiopulmonary problems in your dog that can sometimes prove fatal. But, such incidents are rare and usually occur only if the dog is aged or ailing.

What Happens If a Dog Eats Golden Pothos?

If your dog eats part of the leaves or stems of a golden pothos, you’ll see the following symptoms

  • Drooling, foaming and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Swollen mouth and tongue
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Appetite loss and lethargy
  • Dilated eyes
  • Seizure

What Do I Do If My Dog Ate a Pothos Leaf? 

Symptoms may appear as early as within a few minutes of your dog eating a golden pothos plant. So, you should immediately visit a local vet or contact Pet Poison Control. As a first-aid action, consider rinsing your dog’s mouth and giving your pet plenty of water. 

Is Golden Pothos Poisonous to Humans?

The same toxic substance in the leaves and stems of the Devil's Ivy can cause irritation to your skin. This makes it poisonous to humans, especially children. So, it's vital to keep curious toddlers away from this plant. Luckily, the golden pothos is not as dangerous to humans as it is to pets, due to the lesser chance if being ingested in large quantities.The initial painful sensation often discourages young toddlers or babies, from consuming too much of the plant to become deadly.

Is Devil’s Ivy Poisonous to Touch? 

The Devil’s ivy can be poisonous to touch, especially if the leaves or stems are squeezed. The needle-like crystals cause skin irritation. So, be careful when handling the plant.. Since toddlers and babies tend to grab things with a tight grip, their soft skin is more likely to get affected if they become in contact with this indoor plant.   

Golden Pothos: Safety Tips

Golden Pothos Safety Tips

The golden pothos can cause from mild discomfort to severe reactions if ingested by pets and kids. So, you should follow a few simple steps to make the golden pothos safe for cats,dogs, and young children. Start by keeping it out of your kids and pets’ reach. Place it on a high shelf or in a green house that cannot be accessed easily by your beloved cat or dog. 

Also, as a precaution, always wear gloves while handling your Devil’s ivy during pruning and cleaning sessions, or when you’re repotting the plant. Remember to wash your hands afterward.   

How Do I Keep Cats Away From Pothos?

Cats are curious, agile housemates. It’s impossible to train them to do certain things. So, to keep your cat away from the toxic plant, follow these tips:

  • Fence the plant with a net or another barrier the cat can’t cross. 
  • Place it high up where the cat can't reach, though finding such spots could be tricky. 
  • Apply a cat repellent, like neem oil, to deter your cat from chewing on the plant. 
  • Grow cat grass for your pet to provide it with some greenery to nibble on..  

How Do I Protect My Dog From Toxic Plants?

Dogs might love snacking on plants but are easier to train. They also don’t tend to jump onto high spots. Here are the things you can do to protect your dog from the toxic effects of a golden pothos:

  • Keep the plant in hanging planters or on high shelves that dogs can’t reach. 
  • Put a physical barrier around the plant, like a net. 
  • Train your dog to avoid certain plants with commands like “Leave it.”
  • Keep your pet busy and distracted every time it attempts to touch the plant.

Pet-Safe Plants Alternative to Golden Pothos

Since the Devil’s Ivy is toxic to cats, dogs, and humans, not growing it in your home is the safest thing to do. But don’t worry! Having pets and kids at home doesn’t mean you can’t have an indoor green corner. 

You just need to find a few pet-safe plant alternatives, like the following:

Peacock Plant

Peacock Plant Pet-safe

The Peacock Plant (Calathea Roseopicta) is the perfect choice if you love plants with vibrant leaves. Its foliage flaunts a combination of dark red, green, and yellow. Interestingly, the leaves rise and go down throughout the day as if they were praying. This gorgeous prayer plant is completely pet-safe.  

Flaming Sword Bromeliad

Flaming Sword Bromeliad Pet-safe

The Flaming Sword Bromeliad (Vriesea Splendens) could be the perfect pet-safe, tropical accent piece in your room. You’ll love its unique sword-shaped flower in a flaming red color. It offers a sharp contrast against the dark green leaves with black and purple stripes. 

Money Tree Plant

Money Tree Pet-safe

Another popular and easy-care houseplant that’s perfectly safe for pets and kids is the Money Tree Plant (Pachira Aquatica). Thanks to the braided trunk and vibrant foliage, it's quite a looker. And, as evident from the name, it is a lucky plant that can bring fortune and positive energy to your home.  

Golden Pothos Toxicity: FAQs

Q: Can pothos cause kidney failure in cats?

A: The golden pothos is toxic to cats and can lead to kidney failure if ingested. The harmful crystals in the plant can build up in the kidney, forming stones. Eventually, these can lead to renal failure. Although such incidents are rare, felines with kidney issues are more at risk.

Q: Are all types of pothos toxic?

A: all types of pothos plants contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals in their leaves and stems. So, they make pothos varieties like the Devil's ivy poisonous to cats, dogs, and people. 

Q: Can pothos cause seizures in dogs?

A: If a dog eats pothos leaves and stems, it can develop many side effects. One of the worst-case scenarios is seizures. Other rare but severe side effects of pothos poisoning include coma, and kidney failure if the animal does not receive immediate treatment.

Q: What plant is good for a baby room?

A: Some popular houseplants that are safe for a baby room include the Boston fern, Money tree, Areca palm, Spider plant, Peacock plant, and many more. If your curious kid grabs or eats them, they won’t be harmed. These plants are also pet-safe.   

Related: Fixing Golden Pothos Yellow Leave: A Complete Guide


The Devil's ivy contains invisible needle-shaped crystals, which make the golden pothos toxic to cats, dogs and people, especially to young children and babies. 

So, it is best to keep the plant out of reach from your furry friends and kids. You can grow it as a hanging plant, for instance, and suspend it high enough so that is safe around your cat, dog, or toddler. Or consider adding pet-safe plants to your indoor spaces instead of such toxic plants. 

There are plenty of pet-friendly, non-toxic plants that cannot pose a risk to any member of your household.

Sources & References