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Is Yucca Poisonous to Humans and Pets?

Growing Yucca is like keeping your worst enemy at home. Although Yucca is a splendid houseplant with pointy leaves, it carries toxins harmful to pets and humans.

Yucca is poisonous because of a toxic compound called Steroidal Saponins, leading to low toxicity in humans with symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach upsets but moderate to severe toxicity in dogs, cats, and horses.

Judging from its toxicity, you may think that keeping Yucca indoors is a gamble, but with certain precautions, you can easily adore it in your home while keeping a keen eye on your pets and children.

Is Yucca Poisonous to Humans?

Yucca is a popular succulent species from Asparagaceae native to North America’s northern regions and Central America, grown for decor and medicinal benefits.

Yuccas have been used to treat arthritis, inflammations, and protozoan infections due to the presence of Steroidal Saponins.

Saponin is a foamy, bitter-tasting substance that irritates the stomach and intestines.

Yucca plant parts (leaves, stems, flowers and roots) contain sap that, on contact with the skin, can also cause minor to mild rashes. 

Image represents spiky leaves of Yucca plant
Leaves of Yucca are pointy and serrated in some cases that contain toxic Saponins.

Additionally, the spiky leaves of Yucca can puncture the skin, release other toxins or bacteria, and cause inflammation.

Saponins puncture the intestinal cells and affect their permeability by forming complexes with cellular cholesterol.

However, Saponins are not lethal to humans and can only bring out severe symptoms if you are extremely allergic to them.

Raw Yucca roots also contain cyanogenic glycosides, that release hydrogen cyanide.

The acute lethal dose of hydrogen cyanide for humans is reported to be 0.5-3.5 mg per kilogram of body weight.

Symptoms of Yucca Poisoning in Humans

The following symptoms are visible if you or your children accidentally consume the plant parts of Yucca. 

  • Stomach bloats, intestinal burns, and diarrhea
  • Bitter aftertaste, nausea, and vomiting
  • Rashes, blisters, and skin irritations
  • Dizziness, headaches, rapid heart rate and restlessness

Treatment of Yucca Poisoning in Humans

Although rare, you should consult a physician if severe Yucca poisoning symptoms are visible.

However, you can always provide a forehand first-aid treatment to avoid severe consequences later. 

  • First, wash or rub the skin with isopropyl alcohol to remove the residue and sap.
  • Apply calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream to the skin to reduce itchiness and blisters.
  • Provide some warm water to dilute the poison left in the stomach.
  • You can also offer activated charcoal to adsorb the poison from the stomach and induce self-vomiting.

Is Yucca Poisonous to Pets?

According to ASPCA, Yucca is extremely poisonous to pets, including cats, dogs, and horses.

Ingesting a small amount of Yucca leaves, stems, flowers, or roots may cause problems ranging from irritation to temporary physiological change until treatment.

Saponins found in Yucca flowers, stems, leaves, and roots will enter their bloodstream leading to toxication.

However, the poisoning symptoms will differ from pet to pet and their body size.

Let’s see some symptoms of Yucca poisoning in pets.

Dogs: Drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal bloating and pains, high blood pressure, weakness, and incoordination.

Cats: Vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulties (gasping or panting), pupil dilation, and seizures or spasms.

Horses: Dermatitis (due to the contact with the sap), drooling, vomiting and diarrhea.

Image represents the roots of Yucca plant
Yucca’s roots have more Saponin content than other parts but are an edible delicacy in many parts of the world.

Although most grazing mammals like horses, sheep, rabbits, and goats remain at bay from the sharp Yucca leaves, they can come in contact with the sap from abrasions. 

So, the major symptoms may be mostly topical unless ingested.

Diagnosis of Yucca Poisoning in Pets

Diagnosing Yucca poisoning in pets may take a few steps.

  • Examine plant residues inside or around your pet’s mouth.
  • Look for bite or claw marks on the leaves, stems, and flowers.
  • Check for the soil to see any footprints or claw marks around the plant.
  • Inspect for the bits or residues of leaves or stems around the site.

If you cannot diagnose the symptoms and the effect surges, consider taking your pet to a vet.

While doing so, you can take a photo of the plant to identify the Yucca species and determine the amount of the part your pet has consumed.

Treatment of Yucca Poisoning in Pets

The treatment of Yucca poisoning will always depend on how much they ate and their symptoms.

Small animals like dogs and cats will forbid eating any more Yucca as soon as they taste their bitter-tasting foliage.

However, preparing for the worst is always a good idea. So, administer first aid treatment immediately.

  • Move your pet away from the plant and bring them to an open space.
  • Wrap them in a blanket to resist movement.
  • Wash their mouth with clean water to remove noticeable residues.
Image represents dog wrapped in a blanket
Wrapping pets in blankets while providing them first aid care in case of poisoning helps to keep them in place and offers them comfort.
  • Give them some warm water to dilute the poison.
  • Administer activated charcoal syrup with a syringe (use 0.5-1.5 grams of powder for every pound) if the time of ingestion is less than 3 hours.
  • Rub isopropyl alcohol to remove sap from the eyes, nose, or skin and clean with fresh water.

Moreover, you can always keep a first aid box at home and remember to call the veterinarian or register a case of emergency if the situation seems severe.

Recovery of Yucca Poisoning

Humans can easily recover from the aftermath of Yucca poisoning with proper treatment.

However, depending on the severity of the poisoning and treatment, your pet will recover within 6-24 hours.

Your veterinarian will recommend a hospital stay or discharge based on your pet’s condition. 

Additionally, the vet may offer intravenous liquids to replenish the fluid loss from vomiting and diarrhea.

After taking your pets home, offer them light food with plenty of rest and water until they cheer again.

How to Keep Children and Pets from Yucca?

Here are a few proven ways to keep curious children and pets away from the Yucca plant.

  • Use cayenne pepper sprays, lemon juice, or vinegar to deter pets from the plant.
  • Better hang or keep Yuccas on tall shelves to keep them away from children and pets.
  • Grow houseplants lavender, verbena, thyme, balsam, lilac, or pine around the Yucca to repel the pets.
Image represents pruning tips of Yucca plant
Trimming the leaf tips of Yuccas can reduce the risk of jabbing and the spread of poison to pets and children.

Are your cat and Alocasia finding it difficult to get along? Know if the plant is toxic to your furry companion or not!

FAQs About Yucca Poisoning

Is Yucca Poisonous When Raw?

Raw Yucca plant parts contain cyanogenic glycosides that can release hydrogen cyanide if eaten raw.

Is Yucca Poisonous to Cattle?

Yucca is poisonous to cattle and other livestock, but the toxic severity and symptoms may be low due to its large size.

From Editorial Team

Trim off the Sharp Tips from Yucca Leaves
Cut the sharp, exposed tips of Yucca leaves in spring or early summer to blunt them and prevent eye and mouth injuries.

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