Are Peace Lilies Dangerous to Pets? What Cat and Dog Owners Should Know

By: Matt Slaymaker
December 28, 2023
Is Peace Lily Toxic to Cats, Dogs, and Humans
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Peace lilies are gorgeous houseplants - a picture of serenity and beauty with lovely white flowers. And it's on NASA’s list of air-purifying plants! But pet-owners and parents of young children often ask: ‘Is peace lily toxic to cats, dogs, and humans?’ After all, a variety of lilies are poisonous. 

Interestingly, peace lilies aren't true lilies. They are only called so, due to their appearance. And yes, they're mildly toxic.  

So, the Spathiphyllum - a lily-by-name-only - is a closeted femme fatale. But how fatal can it get if your furry companion chomps on it or your curious toddler decides to taste it? 

Keep reading to find out about peace lily toxicity. 

How Toxic Is a Peace Lily?

How Toxic Is a Peace Lily

 

Peace lilies contain calcium oxalate crystals. This substance makes the plant toxic to pets and humans. Still, peace lilies are only mildly poisonous. 

If ingested, the plant usually causes mild discomfort, including common side effects like: 

  • Burning/tingling sensations in the mouth
  • Swollen lips and tongue
  • Oral pain
  • Rashes and inflammation in individuals with sensitive skin
  • Drooling in animals 
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • GI tract irritation 
  • Difficulty in breathing and swallowing (rare) 

Severe reactions to peace lilies are rare, however, it’s best to take precautions if you want to grow this plant and have pets or young children.

Is a Peace Lily Toxic to Cats?

Are Peace Lilies Toxic to Cats
Source: Reddit

Unlike true lilies that contain highly potent toxins, the peace lily is not deadly. But don't relax yet! All parts of this houseplant can make your cat sick. 

Why Are Peace Lilies Poisonous to Cats? 

Insoluble calcium oxalate crystals make the peace lily poisonous to mammals, including cats. So, if your cat chews on the plant, the toxic substance can cause vomiting, discomfort and drooling. Fortunately, any other more severe side effects are rare.

Related: Peace Lily Meaning & Symbolism

What Happens If a Cat Touches a Lily?

Stems, leaves, flowers, and other parts of a true lily contain deadly toxins. So, when a cat touches them, these toxins can get transferred to its paws and the mouth through licking. 

The pollen can stick to the cat's fur, which can be eaten while grooming. The toxins can cause kidney failure in cats in 3 days. 

Such fatal reactions won't occur if your cat touches a peace lily, however. But the toxic calcium oxalate crystals can accidentally be transferred during grooming sessions into the cat's mouth and cause adverse side effects, even if they are mild.

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Symptoms Of Peace Lily Poisoning in Cats

Visible symptoms and side effects that you must pay heed to, include the following: 

  • Drooling and foaming
  • Scratching and pawing at the mouth
  • Excessive licking 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Vomiting and dry heaving
  • Depression and reduced activities
  • Loss of appetite
  • Head shaking
  • Dilated pupils  

In severe but rare cases, cats may suffer from more serious side effects, such as difficulty in swallowing, seizure, etc.

What Do You Do If Your Cat Eats a Peace Lily? 

If your cat eats a peace lily, supportive care is needed. Contact your vet or a pet poison control center and explain the symptoms.  

You may have to take your pet for a physical checkup. Pollen removal from the coat will also be essential.  

In severe cases, inducing vomit to empty the stomach and giving IV fluids to prevent dehydration may be required.

Is a Peace Lily Toxic to Dogs? 

Like cats, dogs can experience reactions to the toxins present in peace lilies. When a dog chews on peace lilies, it can experience oral irritation and inflammation. If the inflammation impacts its throat, it can have trouble breathing and eating.  

Serious cases may arise only if a dog ingests large quantities of any part of the plant. 

What Happens If a Dog Eats a Peace Lily? 

Calcium oxalate contained in the peace lily is poisonous to dogs, just like cats and other mammals. The effects of the crystals start with pain and burning sensations in the lips and tongue.  

Signs of peace lily poisoning in dogs include the following:   

  • Abnormal drooling
  • Scratching and pawing at the face
  • Swollen lips and tongue
  • Hoarse barking and vocalization
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting 
  • Appetite loss
  • Dilated eyes
  • Lethargy and decreased activity 

In severe cases, dogs may present symptoms, such as difficulty in swallowing and eating, irregular heartbeat and more.

How Long Does Peace Lily Poisoning Take in Dogs? 

The symptoms of ingesting peace lilies can occur within 12 hours, and sometimes, as quickly as 2 hours.  

So, it’s important to keep an eye for signs of poisoning in your furry friend and take it to a vet if it starts feeling unwell.

What Do I Do If My Dog Eats a Peace Lily? 

If your four-legged companion has chomped on a peace lily, wipe and rinse their mouth if possible. Remove any remaining parts of the plant. Some ice may help alleviate pain and swelling. 

Of course, contact your vet or a pet poison control center immediately if your dog shows serious or life-threatening symptoms. 

Peace Lily Toxicity & Dogs: Prevention Tips  

To prevent peace lily poisoning in dogs, you can do the following: 

  • Keep the peace lily plant out of reach from your dog.  
  • You can try to train the dog to stay away from your plants, applying positive reinforcement when it listens to you. 
  • Block the access to your peace lily by arranging dog-friendly plants around it. Remove fallen leaves and brown flowers immediately to minimize the chances of attracting your dog. 

Are Peace Lily Plants Toxic to Humans? 

Are Peace Lilies Toxic to Humans
Source: Reddit

The calcium oxalate content makes the peace lily toxic to humans, just like other mammals. The toxicity level is mild, and the reactions can usually be managed at home. 

Consuming peace lilies can lead to oral irritation and swelling, nausea, and vomiting in children and adults. 

Peace Lilies Are Toxic to Kids & Adults: Safety Measures 

To prevent curious toddlers from eating peace lilies, keep the plant out of their reach. If a child accidentally chews on peace lilies, take the following safety steps: 

  1. Wipe the mouth and rinse out remnants of the plant with water. 
  2. Take ice chips or frozen treats to soothe mouth irritation, pain, or swelling. 
  3. Contact your physician/pediatrician or call poison control 

When it comes to preventing unpleasant side effects in adults, make sure you wear gloves when taking care of your peace lily. Don’t touch your face, eyes and mouth, especially if you’ve just cleaned or repotted the plant

Choose Pet-Friendly & Kids-Safe Plants Alternative to Peace Lily

Houseplants can surely elevate any indoor environment. So, get pet-friendly plants instead. Here are the top three picks for you:

1. Pink Christmas Cactus

The Pink Christmas Cactus is a tropical plant that breaks into white-and-pink blooms in winter. Now, that’s a natural touch to the Christmas decorations at home!

This plant is not toxic to pets and there is no need to worry about getting pricked, due to the flat shape of the stems. So, it’s safe for both cats and dogs.

2. Francesca Guzmania Bromeliad

Here’s another pet-friendly and beautiful indoor easy-to-care-for plant. The Francesca Guzmania Bromeliad offers a pretty combination of white and pink flowers that can brighten up your home interior.

The plant usually flowers just once, but the blooms last for 3-5 months. 

3. Evita Vriesea Bromeliad

If you want a pet-safe flowering tropical plant, the Evita Vriesea Bromeliad can be an excellent choice. You will wait for about 3-5 years before it blooms.

But once it does, the sword-shaped flower will surprise you with its fiery red and yellow color.

Is Peace Lily Toxic to Cats, Dogs, and Humans? FAQs

Q: How do I keep my cat away from my peace lily?

A: You can keep your cat away from your peace lily by placing the plant in a spot inaccessible to your pet. This can be an elevated shelf or a hanging planter. Or keep the plant in a room that your cat has no access to. 

Q: What happens if my cat smells a peace lily?

A: If your cat sniffs a peace lily, the pollen can be harmful as it can be accidentally transferred to the animal's fur and paws. Eventually, your cat may lick it, which will cause toxic reaction. 

Q: Is peace lily fragrance harmful to dogs?

A: No, the fragrance of the plant is not harmful to dogs. The toxins in peace lilies can only be released and cause harm when the plant parts are ingested.

Q: What happens if a child eats a peace lily?

A: If a child eats peace lily parts, the calcium oxalate crystals will instantly cause oral discomfort. This includes irritation, pain, and swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat. The child may also experience coughing, nausea, and vomiting.   

Conclusion

Peace lilies might be elegant and with divine fragrance but you cannot underestimate their toxic nature if you have pets or young children. As a parent, you should prioritize your baby's safety and the well-being of your furry companions by keeping even mildly poisonous plants out of reach.

You can take various precautionary steps to prevent peace lily poisoning. But it might be safer to choose other plants that are safe for pets and children. 

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