Are Rubber Plants Toxic?

Rubber Plants And Cat
Rubber Plants And Cat (Source: Pinterest)

The first time I purchased a rubber plant attracted by its beauty, I quickly got them to my house. Little did I know about the importance of background research on the toxicity level of plants before buying them.

There are so many plants that are poisonous to your pets and humans themselves. So, do you think rubber plants are toxic?

Rubber plants are mildly toxic to humans and animals only when consumed or in contact with skin, nose, mouth, or eyes. 

Beautiful Rubber Plant (Source: Unsplash.com)

Ficus Elastic, also known as a rubber plant, contributes as a feng shui to your surroundings. The indoor planting trend has provoked many to keep this as an interior decorative piece.

However, its poisonous trait leads many people to hesitate in bringing them home.

People might freak out on keeping the toxic labeled plants inside their houses, knowing they are dangerous. Yet, having complete and correct contextual knowledge is essential.

Having said that, you don’t need to discard your want of getting rubber plants at home. You can enjoy bringing them home with proper precautionary measures.

Let us find out the severity of toxicity that rubber plants have.

Are Rubber Plants Toxic?

A rubber plant describes a sturdy, strong, and bold-looking character. They have thick, broad, and dark green leaves.

Pinching or breaking the stem or leaves of the plant can bring you some milky white material oozing out, called sap.

Rubber plants are considered toxic if their inner latex (sap) is exposed to living beings. The irritation can vary from mild to severe problems depending on the individual sensitivity.

Although it sounds scary, the plant’s toxicity is technically leveled 4, which is the mildest. Therefore, it does not create long-lasting harm or does not cause any fatality of people or animals.

The latex substance is present in the milky white sap inside the rubber plant, containing all the toxicity. Latex is the source of the problem, which causes discomfort and irritation.

Adults might be well aware of it, but innocent children could be the victims.

Keep Rubber Plants Away from Children

As children are vulnerable and prone to many accidents, keeping indoor rubber plants with kids in the house can increase more risk. Their curious behaviors can lead to harm.

Kids can be fascinated with the milky white saps oozing out from the plant while playing around or randomly experimenting with things.

The best way out for prevention is to keep them out of sight. However, accidents can happen.

Best to keep the rubber plant out of reach from the little ones.

Which Part of Rubber Plants is Toxic?

You can find sap inside the plants that helps to transport nutrients and water. They are sticky, gooey, and highly elastic.

The sap contains latex in the stems, branches, and leaves of rubber plants or trees when chipped or broken.

The sap inside the leaves and stems (Source: Pexels.com)

Toxic Sap

Latex is produced from the sap that compromises various components such as sugar, albumin, resin, and enzymes. These constituents are not that detrimental.

However, caoutchouc is what we are looking for as they cause allergic reactions in the skin, mouth, and eyes. It is a harmful substance that is toxic.

Latex is a common component that exists in all the Ficus families. Rubbers are made out of this white milky sap containing latex.

Are Pets Vulnerable to Rubber Plants?

Animals are allergic to rubber plants similar to humans. They tend to go through similar kinds of symptoms like us.

As curious, notorious, and fidgety are your furballs, they can be explorative with your plants. It is more dangerous if you have your rubber plants indoors at the reach of your pets.

Are Rubber Plants Toxic to Cats and Dogs?

The fur of cats or dogs acts as a defensive shield against the external environment. Likewise, they play a significant role in protecting their skin if they are exposed to the sap of any rubber plants.

However, it is always better to avoid worst-case scenarios to let the toxic sap spread towards their skin. It would be best if you take immediate action by washing it off with cool water.

Apart from the skin, the most sensitive parts of your furballs are their eyes, nose, and mouth too. Irritation can occur if the sap comes in contact with your pet’s sensitive areas.

Since these sensitive areas are not covered with any extra layer of fur protection, this can escalate the effect due to the soft tissues present in their eyes, nose, and mouth.

In case of ingestion, irritation occurs in the gastrointestinal tract and around the mouth area.

Are Rubber Plants Toxic to Birds?

Today, a lot of people take pets as their most dear companions. Like before, pets are not only constricted to the category of cats and dogs. Many enjoy petting birds at home too.

Considering your flappy companions, rubber plants are equally toxic to birds as to cats and dogs. The poisonous sap of the rubber plant affects birds at a mild level.

Birds are prone to consuming the sap since they like to chew on plants. They have a susceptible respiratory system.

The ingestion of the plant leads them to have stomach distress and fall ill.

Symptoms of Rubber Plant Poisoning

You can contact the sap of rubber plants unknowingly or while performing any activity with the plants. As a result, these sap might create quite a discomfort for both humans and animals.

Rubber Plant
Rubber Plant (Credit: Pexels)

The allergic reaction to rubber plants might immediately take place or occur in a day or two.

Rubber Plant Poisoning Symptoms in Humans

Following are the symptoms you could encounter.

1. Skin Dermatitis

Skin Dermatitis is joint skin irritation. It might occur in mild to acute intensity of skin uneasiness.

Itchiness, red rashes, blistering and stingy feeling are indications of skin dermatitis.

2. Sap Exposure in The Eyes, Nose, and Mouth

You will feel a severe burning sensation, and also your eyes will be watery, itchy, or red if you have been exposed to the plant.

3. In Case of Ingestion (Common with Children)

Keep an eye out for the following symptoms if you or your children have ingested the rubber plant.

  • Itchy, burning, and pain in the mouth and throat.
  • Lethargy, nausea.
  • Diarrhea, GI distress, and vomiting if the case worsens.
  • The digestive disorder can prevail for a day or two.

Rubber Plant Poisoning Symptoms in Animals

It is by nature of cats and dogs to sniff around everything. Hence, consuming the rubber plant with the oozing sap can lead to similar symptoms as humans.

According to ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), dermatitis, salivation, vomiting, and oral irritation are general symptoms that occur while ingesting or exposed to skin.

However, check the table below to find the symptoms and how you can identify them.

Dogs

Symptoms How to Identify
VomitingDogs lose appetite and keep throwing up.
DiarrheaThe consistency of the feces has changed to fluid.
SalivationExcess saliva secretion than normal.
DepressionDogs are not active as usual. Less barking and playfulness.
DroolingDrooling or salivating more than normal without being aware of it.
NauseaDogs feel sick and do not move much. Drooling also shows they are nauseous.
Lack of CoordinationImbalance in the movement of the dogs.
Oral or Skin IrritationItchiness on the skin (dogs scratching around); mouth area can become reddish or swollen.

Cats

SymptomsHow to Identify
DehydrationCheck out for skin tenting (fragile skin elasticity).
VomitingCats lose appetite and keep throwing up.
WeaknessUnable to actively move and looking lethargic.
DiarrheaThe consistency of the feces has changed to that of a fluid.
Oral IrritationItchiness and uneasiness around the mouth area.
Swollen and Reddened LipsThe appearance of pinkish-red lips or mouth; puffy mouth than usual.

Birds

SymptomsHow to Identify
DiarrheaCheck for watery droppings: The feathers near its vent are stained and the birds are fluffed up.
VomitingBirds will nod its head and stick out their neck, throwing up unwanted content.
DepressionLoss in appetite; less movement and chirpy.

First Aid Care

It is essential to give immediate attention to those that come in contact with the rubber plant, be it you or your plant.

First Aid for Humans

It is better to take corrective actions as soon as possible when you contact the sap of rubber plants.

In case of exposure of sap, follow the below points.

  • On the skin: Quickly wash the area with soap and wipe it with cold water.
  • In eyes: Wash the eyes with lukewarm water for some time ( 10 – 15 minutes ).
  • Sap intake ( in case of children ): Rinse the child’s mouth thoroughly.

First Aid for Pets

If you find out that your pet has ingested a rubber plant, then get ready for immediate reflexes below.

  • Firstly, go with the physical examination of your pet with the symptoms and your observation.
  •  If you white substance in the mouth (latex) or the plant leaves, immediately remove them and try to rinse the mouth thoroughly with water and wipe it properly.
  • Do not induce your pet vomit until your vet suggests.
  • Keep your pet as hydrated as possible with enough supply of water.
  • Just for a sample test of the plant, keep the ingested part to show the vet if the condition worsens.

Treatment from Toxic Rubber Plants

You know what they say; prevention is better than cure. However, you should be able to treat rubber plant intoxication at home without much fuss.

Since rubber plants are mildly toxic, they do not result in severe harm. However, do not be alarmed if the tips below do not work immediately if treatment is required.

Rubber Plant
Rubber Plant (Credit: Unsplash)

Bear in mind that the recovery takes place within a few days. Usually, it takes one to two days. In the meantime, keep the victim well hydrated, and they should be perfectly fine.

Treatment for Humans

Usually, critical treatments are not required due to the poisoning of rubber plants.

However, if there is a severe reaction with rashes, burning sensations, or blisters, it is best to call the concerned medical center or doctors immediately.

An emergency hotline number of Poison Control Centre 1-800-222-1222

Treatment for Pets

As mentioned earlier, the chances are less for a severe illness that will require serious treatment.

Nevertheless, if the situation deteriorates, then it is better to call and consult with your veterinarian. Do not panic and communicate the symptoms and behaviors of your pet thoroughly.

Call your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at (888) 426-4435.

Proper treatment to your pets (Source: Pexels.com)

Tips to Prevent Rubber Plants Poisoning

A little bit of cautiousness can prevent you from the harm of your rubber plants. You can easily apply the tips below.

  1. Keep rubber plants further away (out of reach) from children. You can do this by placing them on higher tables, racks, corners, and such.
  2. Wear gloves and an apron. Be alert on exposing yourself, children and pets from the plant sap while pruning, watering, cleaning, repotting, or moving the plant.
  3. Avoid touching your eyes when you are working with rubber plants.

Preventing Your Pets from Eating Rubber Plants  

Animals are curious creatures like children. Moreover, placing your rubber plants in out-of-reach tables, racks and corners can also help to dodge your pets from eating rubber plants.

Other than that, you can apply creative ways for pungent smells to avoid your pets’ inquisitive behavior. Follow some of the tips below.

  • Spray vinegar around the plant.
  • Add coffee, lemon, citrus peels to the plant’s base.
  • Sprinkle pepper around the plant.
  • Potting marigolds to keep dogs away.
  • Lavender and rosemary to keep cats away.
  • Aluminum screening around the plant in a U-shape, hanging rubber snakes, creative scarecrows, helium-filled balloons around the plant to keep birds away.

Safe Variety of Rubber Plant

As we have discussed the Ficus Elastic rubber plant, you might fear its poisonous nature. Do not worry if you are concerned about your little ones or furballs at home.

American or Baby Rubber Plant (Peperomia Obtusifolia) is a non-toxic rubber plant that you can get for your house.

Baby Rubber Plant (Source: Pexels.com)

The pet-friendly plant is from a succulent family which requires less water and can thrive in indirect lighting. However, bright indirect lighting is recommended.

You can relax at your house with these baby rubber plants if the Ficus Elastic rubber plant gives you the need for extra concern.

You can find them on Amazon.

Conclusion

Enough with the dreads of rubber plants. They are a great piece to add to your home. With proper safety measures, especially for your kids and pets, it is a beautiful plant that you won’t regret in your space.

Rubber plants amazingly bring an aura with their elegant massive leaves, making the surroundings look more attractive. Also, they are easy to take care of and fast-growing plants.

You don’t need to change your mind if you are thinking of getting one. This article can come to your help!

There are other houseplants that are perfectly safe for your pets and children. Find the 20 plants that are safe for children, cats, and dogs.

Happy Planting!

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