Are Pothos Toxic to Pets?

A Dog With A Potted Pothos Plant
A Dog With A Potted Pothos Plant(Source: Sprouting Indoors)

Are you worried about leaving your pothos at ground level because you have house pets? Is your dog or cat a plant lover like yourself? Are pothos toxic to pets?

It is almost impossible to keep your pets off the plants. And especially when it comes to cats, they can be quite the rebel!

In general, pothos is toxic to pets as they can cause a wide range of severe skin and mouth irritation for your pets, ranging from mild to severe. Pothos contain raphides and calcium oxalate, which causes oral pain, drooling, foaming, vomiting, increased salivation, and swallowing difficulties if the plant has been ingested.

A Curious Pet Sniffing Pothos Plant
A Curious Pet Sniffing Pothos Plant

If you place your pothos on a tiny table or beside your bed, your pets will most definitely destroy them out of sheer curiosity. If not today, someday!

On the other hand, pothos is a fighter plant. Strong enough to give your pets a nightmare!

Let us reduce this collateral damage and position our pothos high up in the air. Shall we?

Continue reading to find out what makes Pothos a notorious houseplant and how to keep your pets safe.

Is Pothos Toxic to Pets by Nature?

Well, it is their coping mechanism, you see. Plants don’t have many ways of protecting themselves, unlike animals. Hence, pothos is toxic to pets by nature.

Thus, they produce certain kinds of harmful chemical substances to protect themselves from potential threats.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Pothos can be lethal to.

  • Large animals such as horses and cows
  • Small animals such cats, dogs, and rabbits
  • It is also poisonous to humans when ingested

Now, aren’t Pothos lovers crazy to be adorning their living spaces with a toxic plant? Well, not exactly!

I certainly was not trying to scare you and provoke you to throw away your beautiful trailing house.

The level of toxicity mainly depends upon the amount of pothos that has been ingested. Also, what part of the plant has been consumed (stem, leaves, bulb, or roots).

Isn’t it ironic that the most beautiful part of the pothos plant, the foliage, is the most toxic? If you have sensitive skin, best not touch pothos with bare hands.

Pothos pose a wide range of threats to your pets, no argument! However, it poses a threat to us, humans, only when consumed in large quantities.

Just be mindful of how and where you position your pothos. You don’t have to get rid of them altogether!

Why Are Pothos Toxic to Pets?

None of the pothos variations are pet-friendly, especially the golden pothos!

The entire pothos body is packed with harmful toxins. They produce insoluble crystals of calcium oxalate, which is a poisonous substance. They resemble sharp glass shards.

When these crystals come in contact with water or saliva, instead of dissolving, they begin to cut the tender tissues inside the mouth area.

The shape of the crystal causes major injury leading to oral irritation and inflammation.

What To Do if Your Pet Consumes Pothos?

In most cases, animals do pretty well with minimal support and care.

Nevertheless, if you think your house pets have ingested some parts of your pothos, stay calm and try to find out the answers to the following questions by investigating the plant and surroundings.

  • Has your pet only torn the Pothos apart or chewed some plant parts?
  • How much have they ingested?

And, if you cannot figure out the answers, call a veterinarian immediately as a precaution.

The vet will most likely ask you to monitor your pet for a few hours for any crucial symptoms.

However, it is best to take your pet to an animal hospital if they have ingested a significant amount of Pothos.

You can also call pet poison helpline at 855-764-7661.

Before you take them to a vet, you should try to gather as many details as possible regarding how many leaves your pet might have swallowed.

It is also good to figure out the time frame for the event. Inform the vet about your pet’s breed, height, weight, and age.

If they are allergic to any substance or are under any specific medication, make your vet aware of that as well. Keep an accurate note of their symptoms and discomfort.

If possible, bring along a small part of the plant and samples of vomit/stool particles produced after ingesting the Pothos.

If you delay taking your pets to the hospital, they might suffer from a wide range of reactions.

The toxic substance in pothos causes calcium oxalate crystals to form in the urinary tract, which might cause health problems in the future.

Important Note: Do not try any home remedies or DIY potions if your fur companions are exhibiting any of the symptoms.

Is it Life-Threatening?

No, it is not life-threatening to most animals when ingested in small amounts. And, your pets are very unlikely to consume pothos in huge quantities as irritation in the mouth region sets off immediately.

Also, it has a slightly bitter taste. Not an ideal pet choice for food!

However, if your house pet is very old or sickly, they might be in grave danger. 

What Symptoms Should I Expect?

Most of the symptoms will occur within the first 24 hours of consuming the plant. The symptoms are mainly focused on the gastrointestinal tract of your pet.

Oral irritation can cause excessive salivation. They may experience intense burning and irritation in their eyes, mouth, tongue, and lips depending upon the amount of pothos they chewed.

Other common symptoms include lethargy and irritable behaviors.

Pothos Poisonous to Pets
A Sick Puppy (Source: Unsplash)

Excessive vomiting or difficulty in vomiting is a red flag to take your pet to an animal hospital instantly.

Most severe symptoms include foaming from the mouth, trouble breathing, difficulties in swallowing, seizures, and unconsciousness caused by internal inflammation.

Diarrhea and liver failure have also been reported in a few cats and dogs; however, this is very uncommon.

In extreme cases, the symptoms have been reported to go on for as long as two weeks.

Treatment of Pothos Poisoning

If you do not have immediate access to a vet, make sure you wash your pet’s mouth with clean water.

It will wash out the remaining crystals of calcium oxalate present in the mouth and relieve the discomfort.

If your pet has difficulty breathing, the vet will administer oxygen manually or by placing them in an oxygen vent.

If the inflammation is severe, your pet will be intubated to stabilize the levels of oxygen.

A Cat Undergoing Treatment
A Cat Undergoing Treatment (Source: Pixabay)

Antihistamines will help with the internal swelling in a matter of 2 to 4 hours.

Depending upon the situation, the doctor may start with fluid therapy to flush out the harmful substances from the body.

This will prevent any kind of kidney damage while maintaining hydration in the body.

You will see that your pet will urinate very frequently. This avoids the chances of crystallization of toxins in the kidneys and urinary tract.

The Stages of Recovery

Pothos toxicity is relatively mild compared to other indoor plants such as snake plants, peace lily, ZZ plants, and succulents. Therefore, your pets will not suffer for an extended period of time.

Once the calcium oxalate crystals have been washed off from your pet’s mouth, there can be no more injury in the oral cavity.

After 2 to 3 days, your pet should be good as before as all the calcium oxalate should have passed through urination.

Important Note: If your vet recommends a quick follow-up, make sure not to miss the appointment.

How to Keep Your Pothos Away from Pets?

Place Your Pothos Tactically

If you are a dog parent, it is quite simple. You can hang the pothos from the ceiling or place them on top of a book rack. I would recommend using floating shelves.

Keep in mind that your dogs should not be able to reach the Pothos on two legs!

My cocker spaniel is a big fan of digging up potting soil and gnawing on the plants. As prevention, I always make sure to trim the trails of my pothos. Occasionally, I use wall hooks to keep the trails in place.

As for cats, that’s a challenge. Since they are excessively jumpy, they can reach almost anywhere!

Place your pothos high up in the air with the help of floating tops. Make sure to trim the plant frequently.

Make your Plant Stink

Cats and dogs are particularly very sensitive to smell. Therefore, you can spray your plant with diluted vinegar solution. Cats hate the smell!

You can also throw in some lemon peels. Citrus fruit peels gracefully get the job done!

Sprinkling orange peels and coffee grounds is the best way to keep your pets away from your pothos. On a plus point, they serve as natural fertilizers!

Coffee grounds (Source: Unsplash)
Coffee grounds (Source: Unsplash)

If you want to keep your pets away from the plant, you can spray some cayenne pepper on the topsoil. One sniff and they won’t be anywhere near it ever again. Houseplant lovers swear by this trick!

Most Common Pothos Poisoning Questions

Q: “My dog chewed up one Pothos leaf. It doesn’t look like she ingested any of it just chewed it up. She did not show any immediate signs and is still acting completely normal.

Was wondering at this point if everything will be fine or if I should bring her to vet.” – Lo’s Owner

A: Your pet may not show any symptoms if they have ingested a minimal amount of Pothos. However, it is important to monitor them for a few hours and call a vet if anything seems unusual.

Q: “My puppy (10 weeks) ate some of my Pothos plants. He bit at it a few times prior but I immediately stop him.

Last night he ate more than normal and led him to throw up. I had no idea my plant was poisonous.

He seems a little lethargic but nothing else out of the normal aside from throwing up once.” – Mr. Mooney’s Owner

A: Pothos toxicity signs are quickly visible soon after the pets consume them. Even if your pet is not showing any drastic abnormalities, it is essential to keep track especially, when it comes to sick, old, or young pets.

Q: “My dog ingested 2 small leaves. Then he started to drool excessively to the point that his legs and mouth are so wet. This only happens when he is sleeping.

His energy is the same, eats and drinks too but I wanted to bring him to the vet right away. I don’t want to wait till it gets worst.” – Wagwaking

A: It is always best to consult a vet as soon as you see that your pet is unwell. They definitely cannot speak for themselves, but we can easily observe the discomfort in their behaviors!

Should I be Worried about Placing Pothos Beside My Pet Bird’s Cage?

Definitely! Pothos are toxic to pets and birds as well.

pothos poisonous to pets
A hanging pothos plant (Source: Unsplash)

Pothos is listed as a poisonous plant for almost all kinds of birds. The following symptoms may be very evident in your pet birds.

  • Frequent body tremors
  • Excessive excretion
  • Occasional vomiting
  • Depression
  • Unconsciousness

Prevention is Certainly Better than Cure!

Lastly, if you are a parent to both plants and animals, it is best to educate yourself on the toxicity levels of the plants in your house.

You might have a well-behaved pet, but even the most disciplined animals can get curious now and then!

Therefore, keep your pothos out of your pet’s reach and inquisitiveness. And, if possible, train four-legged mates not to consume any plant, whether poisonous or not! It saves your plant the trauma!

Last but not least, throw away the fallen leaves!

Did you know that Chinese Evergreen are toxic to pets as well? Learn more here: Is Chinese Evergreen Toxic to Cats?

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