Snake Plants Toxicity to Cats, Dogs and Safe Alternatives

By: Matt Slaymaker
November 24, 2023
Are Snake Plants Toxic to Cats and Dogs
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Snake plants are popular indoor plants known for their air-purifying, resilient, and easy maintenance qualities. Their long, succulent grass-like foliage and striking appearance make them a great addition to your indoor house plant collection.

However, many plant lovers, who own pets often ask, "Are snake plants toxic to cats and dogs?" Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Snake plants contain saponin, a toxin that protects them against harmful microbes, fungi, and insects.

So, as a pet owner, understanding your snake plant's toxicity helps create a safe environment for your furry friend. Read on to discover more about snake plants and how to keep your pet safe.

The Nature of Snake Plants: Species and Varieties

The Nature of Snake Plants

Snake plants originate from tropical regions of Africa and Asia, and are undoubtedly the most popular and best-known beginner-friendly houseplants. Their narrow, sword-shaped succulent leaves, marbled in dark green, light-green, and grey-green colors, can easily provide a focal point in a home interior. Here are some of the common species and varieties and these fantastic tropical plants:

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Common Types of Snake Plants

There are over 70 snake plant species in the genus Dracaena, initially known as Sansevieria. Among the numerous varieties, some popular ones include:

 Related: The Ultimate Guide to Snake Plants

Benefits of Snake Plants

The snake plant, commonly known as mother-in-law's tongue, is an excellent addition to any home, and for good reasons. Beyond their aesthetic appeal, snake plants have many benefits, including:

Toxicity of Snake Plants to Pets: Are Snake Plants Poisonous?

According to the ASPCA, snake plants are poisonous to both cats & Dogs. Here's what makes snake plants poisonous and why they are toxic to pets.

Chemical Composition: What Makes Snake Plants Toxic?

Both Sansevieria plants and Dracaena species contain toxic substances known as saponins. These chemical compounds occur naturally in the snake plant's leaves and act as a defense mechanism against damage by herbivores, insects, and microorganisms.

Why Are Snake Plants Toxic to Pets?

Saponins, contained in snake plants, make them toxic to pets and animals, in general. These chemicals have a unique molecule structure that enables them to interact with lipids, essential components of cell membranes. They can cause inflammation, irritation, and other adverse effects when they come into contact with your pet's gastrointestinal tract.

Are Snake Plants Toxic to Pets?

Are Snake Plants Toxic to Pets

If you’re own a cat or a dog, you are naturally apprehensive about growing a snake plant in your home. This section explores the possible effects of snake plants on dogs and cats.

The Effect on Dogs: How Toxic Is Sansevieria to Dogs?

Snake plants toxicity to dogs is mild when the plant is consumed in small amounts. However, be aware of possible risks like gastrointestinal upsets. While not highly toxic, consuming any part of the plant can sometimes lead to severe adverse effects in dogs.

Snake Plant Poisoning in Dogs: What Happens If My Dog Eats a Snake Plant?

If your dog ingests a snake plant, various symptoms may manifest, indicating potential poisoning. It's critical to monitor your dog closely for signs of distress. Snake plants toxicity symptoms in dogs may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Drooling
  • Hemolysis (ruptured red blood cells)

Can a Snake Plant Kill a Dog?

No, a snake plant can't kill a dog, as its toxicity level is mild to moderate. Ingestion may only cause discomfort and symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Immediate veterinary attention is key to addressing these symptoms and ensuring your dog’s well-being.

The Effects on Cats: Are Snake Plants Toxic to Cats?

While snake plants are considered toxic to cats, the level of toxicity is generally mild. Cat owners must be aware of these plants' potential risks.

Symptoms of Snake Plant Toxicity in Cats: What Happens If My Cat Eats a Snake Plant?

If your cat ingests a snake plant, symptoms of toxicity may arise. Watch out for signs like:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen throat or mouth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dilated pupils
  • Depression
  • Abdominal discomfort or pain
  • Drooling
  • Pale gums
  • Lethargy

Can Sansevieria Kill Cats?

No, the relatively mild effects of snake plants toxicity to cats means they aren't fatal. However, cats may develop symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea when they consume a small amount of saponin, contained in these easy plants to grow inside. The signs will only be severe if a cat ingests too much of the toxin. Consider taking your cat to a vet if the symptoms last for 1-2 days.

What Should I Do If My Pet Eats a Snake Plant?

If you witness or suspect that your pet has consumed a snake plant, act promptly to ensure their well-being. Here are some steps to guide you:

  • Remove the plant: Get the snake plant away from your pet’s reach to prevent further ingestion. If possible, lock the plant in a secure room inaccessible to your cat or dog.
  • Contact your veterinarian: Reach out to your veterinarian or contact a reliable pet poison control hotline like Pet Poison Helpline or ASPCA Poison Control immediately. Then, describe the situation and the symptoms your pet may be exhibiting. They can provide guidance tailored to your pet's health and the severity of the ingestion.
  • Monitor symptoms: Keep a close eye on your pet for signs of discomfort or distress, such as vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or changes in appetite. Sharing these symptoms with your vet can aid in accurate assessment.
  • Do not induce vomiting without professional advice: Inducing vomiting in pets can have risks and should only be done under the guidance of a veterinarian. Consult with an experienced vet before attempting any at-home remedies.
  • Bring a sample of the plant: If possible, show a sample of the plant, your pet ingested, to the veterinarian. This can assist in identification and determining the appropriate course of action.

Snake Plant & Toxicity to Pets: Preventive Measures and Safety

Snake Plants and Pets Preventive Measures

Creating a safe indoor environment for your pets is essential to prevent potential harm from snake plants. While these plants offer aesthetic appeal, taking proactive measures to ensure your furry friend's well-being is advisable.

How Do I Stop My Pet From Eating a Snake Plant?

To safeguard your pets from ingesting snake plants, consider creating a pet-safe indoor and outdoor environment. Here are a few preventative measures you can apply:

  • Elevate plants: Place snake plants in areas out of reach for pets, such as on a high shelf, an isolated stand or hanging planters. Doing so will deny your pet an easy access to the leaves. Alternatively, move the snake plant to a room or a greenhouse your pet cannot enter.  
  • Use deterrents: Apply pet-safe deterrents, such as bitter sprays, to discourage pets from nibbling on plants. You can also spray the snake plant with pet spray to keep your pet away.
  • Offer alternatives: Provide appealing alternatives like pet-friendly grasses or designated chewing toys to divert their attention.

Pet-Safe Plants That Are Alternative to Snake Plants

Pet-Safe Plants That Are Alternative to Snake Plants

Creating a pet-friendly house plants oasis at home involves incorporating non-toxic plants that add beauty without compromising your furry friend's well-being. This section provides a list of some of the best pet-safe plants that are alternative to snake plants to consider.

Top Non-toxic Plants for Homes with Pets:

Are Snake Plants Toxic to Cats and Dogs? FAQs

Q: Are All Snake Plant Varieties Toxic to Cats and Dogs?

A: Both Sansevieria and Dracaena varieties contain saponins that can harm cats and dogs if ingested. So, it’s vital to keep snake plants out of reach from your furry friends. This also means that you should not grow them outdoors as porch plants if your pet is allowed outside.

Q: How Can I Tell If My Pet Has Ingested Part of a Snake Plant?

A: Watch for symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, lethargy, or appetite loss. If you suspect ingestion, seek immediate veterinary attention. Provide them with details about your pet's behavior and the plant variety consumed for accurate guidance.

Q: Is the Mother-In-Law's Tongue Toxic to Rabbits?

A: Yes, mother-in-law's tongue, another term for a snake plant, contains saponins, which are harmful to rabbits. Keeping this plant away from them is essential to prevent potential poisoning.

Q: Are Snake Plants Toxic to Humans?

A: Although snake plants can cause mild irritation if consumed, they are generally safe for humans. But it’s advisable to avoid ingestion and contact with eyes, and any unusual symptoms should prompt you to consult with a healthcare professional.

Conclusion

While snake plants offer aesthetic appeal and air-purifying benefits, their potential toxicity to pets underscores the importance of informed plant ownership. Recognizing the symptoms of ingestion, seeking prompt veterinary care, and implementing preventative measures create a harmonious living space for both plants and pets.

Striking a balance between green living and pet safety ensures a home where the lush beauty of snake plants coexists seamlessly with the well-being of cherished animal companions. Responsible choices enable you to enjoy the best of both worlds – a thriving indoor oasis and the unconditional love of your furry friends.

Sources & References