Is Zebra Plant Toxic to Pets?

Haworthia Fasciata
Haworthia Fasciata (Source: Pexels)

Every pet owner must have found a chewed-off plant hanging naked from the stem with leafless branches at some point. Nobody wants their pets to get sick just because of this innocent little act.

This article is for those people who have cats and dogs and want to know whether the Zebra plant is toxic or not.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals toxic plant database, the Zebra plant is PERFECTLY SAFE for your pets. You can safely decorate your home with this plant without worrying about harming your pets. 

Do you want to add natural beauty and a touch of wilderness inside your home? Then you, along with your cats, will enjoy all the varieties of Zebra plants available in your next-door nursery, none of which are toxic.

Zebra-plant
Zebra Plant (Source: Unsplash.com)

This plant has four varieties: Aphelandra squarrosa, Haworthiopsis fasciata, Haworthiopsis attenuate, and Calathea zebrina. Each of them carries its own unique beauty and has its own proper way of thriving.

Are all Varieties of Zebra Plants Non-Toxic?

Some varieties of Zebra plant looks perfectly safe like the broad-leaved Aphelandra squarrosa and the Calathea Zebrina.

In contrast, the spikes and thorns of Haworthiopsis attenuata and Haworthiposis fasciata may look more life-threatening to your small pets.

Whatever they may look like, all the varieties of Zebra plants are non-toxic to your cats.

Let’s talk about each of them and the proper way to grow them as decorative houseplants. There is only a handful of things to consider while taking care of your plants. They are

  1. Sunlight
  2. Temperature
  3. Moisture/Water Content
  4. Soil

These four factors are the important ones to consider to ensure a healthy plant.

1. Aphelandra squarrosa

This species natively belongs to the Atlantic forest vegetation of Brazil. You can recognize it by its large, fleshy leaves and deep green foliage.

It is considered to be a short-lived plant and will only live a few years.

Aphelandra Squarrosa(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Sunlight: It flourishes in abundant, but not direct, light. Although it does not flower often, you can encourage it to bloom by exposing it to prolonged light daily.

Temperature: The most favorable temperature to keep this plant beautifully alive is in the range of 18-21°C (65-70 °F).

Moisture/Water Content: Due to its high moisture sensitivity, small amounts of water at frequent intervals will keep it moist enough to thrive beautifully.

Soil: Soil that has a rich texture and high drainage is suitable for potting. Moderately acidic soil  (5.6-6.0 pH) is best for its growth.

Toxicity: Non-toxic to Cats, Dogs, and Horses. It is non-toxic to all pets in general.

2. Haworthiopsis attenuate

It is an evergreen succulent plant with short leaves and white tubercles.

It is often confused as Aloe Vera, which poses a known danger to cats despite its positive benefits for humans.

Their flowers appear in November and December, making them a perfect plant to show off to your relatives and family members during Christmas.

Haworthiopsis Attenuata (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Sunlight: Avoid direct sunlight as it is said to cause its leaves to turn white or yellow. Keeping the plant in a shady place will ensure that the leaves remain green and beautiful.

Temperature: In very high temperatures(>85 °F), the plant will go dormant. Temperature as low as 30-50 °F is the optimum temperature for this plant.

Moisture/Water Content: Watering in even intervals is necessary during summer, although it doesn’t need much care in winter. Once every two weeks would be sufficient to keep it thriving.

Soil: Like most other succulent plants, it prefers soil with adequate drainage. A good commercial potting soil mixture with equal drainage material(compost, gravel, wood chips) will be sufficient.

Toxicity: Non-toxic to Cats, Dogs, and Horses. It is non-toxic to all pets in general.

3. Haworthiopsis fasciata

This species has a similar structure and markings to Haworthiopsis attenuate. This can confuse even among the most Zebra plant-loving aficionados. However, Haworthiopsis fasciata is much rarer in cultivation and harder to find.

If you are having difficulty distinguishing it from attenuata, you can check its upper leaf surface, which appears to be smoother than its attenuata counterpart.

Haworthiopsis Fasciata(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Sunlight: Direct sunlight can damage its leaves, causing them to discolor. Allowing 3-5 hrs of sunlight a day is enough.

Temperature: Avoid a temperature of less than 2°C. Suppose you live in places where the temperature drops below 2°C, plant it in a container where the plant can be moved to a warm place indoors.

Moisture/Water Content: Watering once a week is enough to keep this plant thriving. Avoid overwatering, too, as it will quickly succumb to rot.

Soil: The soil structure of the grainy type and that drains well is ideal for its growth. If you want to make your own growth medium, then perlite, potting soil, and sand mixed in equal parts will make a suitable soil.

Toxicity: Non-toxic to Cats, Dogs, and Horses. It is non-toxic to all pets in general.

4. Calathea zebrina

It is distinguished as an evergreen perennial species of zebra plant that can grow up to one meter: dark green above and dark red below.

Although it needs a bit more care than others, you will learn to love the beautiful colorful leaves that won the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

Calathea Zebrina (Source: Unsplash)

Sunlight: Warm greenhouses are the best place to keep this plant. Make sure that the spot is brightly lit if you plan to keep it indoors.

Temperature: Temperature around 20°C is the most suitable temperature for this plant to foster. Avoid spots with cold drafts of air to keep the leaves from turning brown.

Moisture/Water Content: Keeping the soil moist throughout the summer is essential to prevent its leaves from drying off. In winter, only water when the topsoil starts drying out.

Soil: Calathea starts to die if the soil gets wet. It prefers moist soil that is neither too dry nor too wet. Try a mixture of one part potting soil, two parts peat, and one part perlite for a well-draining potting mix.

Toxicity: Non-toxic to Cats, Dogs, and Horses. It is non-toxic to all pets in general.

While these four species are the main ones, there are other 20 different varieties of this plant, each with its own unique beauty.

Varieties of Zebra plants

Sub-varietyVarietyToxicity
Haworthia GlabrataHaworthiopsis Attenuata
Non toxic to ALL pets
Haworthiopsis attenuata var. radulaHaworthiopsis Attenuata
Non toxic to ALL pets
Haworthiopsis attenuata var. radula f. variegataHaworthiopsis Attenuata
Non toxic to ALL pets
Haworthia Enon
Haworthiopsis Attenuata
Non toxic to ALL pets
Haworthia fasciata ‘Big band’Haworthiopsis FasciataNon toxic to ALL pets
Haworthia fasciata ‘Super White Zebra’Haworthiopsis FasciataNon toxic to ALL pets
Haworthia fasciata ‘Alba’Haworthiopsis FasciataNon toxic to ALL pets
Haworthia fasciata ‘Royal Albert’Haworthiopsis FasciataNon toxic to ALL pets
Tulista pumila ‘Donuts’Haworthia PumilaNon toxic to ALL pets
Tulista pumila ‘Emperor’Haworthia PumilaNon toxic to ALL pets
Tulista pumila ‘Tenshi no Namida’Haworthia PumilaNon toxic to ALL pets
Haworthia reinwardtii var conspicuaHaworthia ReinwardtiiNon toxic to ALL pets
Tulista opalina (M.Hayashi) BreuerTulista MinimaNon toxic to ALL pets
Haworthia coarctataHaworthia CoarctataNon toxic to ALL pets
Haworthia limifolia var. striata PilbeamHaworthia LimifoliaNon toxic to ALL pets
Haworthia limifolia f. variegataHaworthia LimifoliaNon toxic to ALL pets
Aloe ‘Crosby’s prolific’Haworthia LimifoliaNon toxic to ALL pets
Aloe aristataHaworthia LimifoliaNon toxic to ALL pets
Gonialoe variegataHaworthia LimifoliaNon toxic to ALL pets
Aloe somaliensisHaworthia LimifoliaNon toxic to ALL pets

Is Zebra Plant Toxic to Humans?

Although its toxicity to pets is virtually non-existent, it’s possible that the sap from these plants can cause skin irritation in some people with allergies.

People with allergic or sensitive skin best leave its trimming to experts or, better yet, wear a proper set of gloves to prevent its sap from getting on the skin.

How to Recover a Pet if it Ingests Zebra Plant?

Any plant can cause vomiting and gastrointestinal upset in cats and dogs, and those with big leaves can be a choking hazard.

Zebra plants are bigger in size, and they can cause choking hazards to your pets.

If you suspect your pet has become unwell or has consumed a harmful substance, call your local veterinarian or the APCC’s 24-hour emergency poison hotline at 1-888-426-4435.

The first symptom of choking is likely to be coughing. If your pet has ingested any object that gets stuck in their throat, they will immediately start coughing to expel the object.

You will also notice difficulty in breathing and inhaling.

If your pet has choked on any plant, then you should consider first aid, such as the Heimlich maneuver, till the vet arrives.

Proper Heimlich Maneuver for pets

1. Heimlich Maneuver for Small Pets

  • Hold your pet in your lap facing upwards.
  • Use your palm to apply pressure right beneath the rib cage and push firmly inwards and upwards 5 times in a thrusting motion.
  • Roll your pet back onto their side and check whether the object has been expelled or not.

2. Heimlich Maneuver for Big Pets

  • If your pet is standing, put your arms around them to join hands at the abdomen,
  • Make a fist with your hands and firmly push inwards and upwards 5 times in a thrusting motion. It is similar to performing the maneuver on a human.
  •  This is meant to expel the object from the mouth, so be sure to remove any object that may be loose in the back of your pet’s mouth so he doesn’t swallow it back again.
  • If your pet is lying down on the floor, put one hand on his back and the other to squeeze their abdomen upwards and forwards towards the spine. Check if the object has been expelled or not.

Disclaimer: Only perform the Heimlich maneuver in emergency situations under professional supervision, as it can cause damage to the chest. Its also important for the pet to get checked by the vet afterwards.

Best Ways to Stop Pets from Eating Plants

There are no fool-proof methods to stop your furry little kitties and your puppies from eating away your plants. However, you can try some of these techniques to get them away from your precious plant.

1. Pet Repellent Spray

Spray your plant’s leaves with over-the-counter pet sprays. These sprays are specifically designed to keep pets away from your plants.

You can get Pet Repellent Spray at Amazon.

2. Use of Mothballs

Keeping mothballs around the plant vase will help to deter the pets from sneaking up on your plants. However, while mothballs work as pet repellant, it is toxic to pets. Thus, you might want to consider this as a last alternative.

3. Sprinkling Coffee Grounds 

Adding coffee grounds to the soil of the plant has two advantages.

Firstly, it acts as a natural fertilizer for the soil as it contains all the essential macro-nutrients for the plants: Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. Plus, it helps to deter both pets and pests from the plant.

4. Alternate Chewing Plants

If your cat cannot resist the leaves of your zebra plant, then give her a plant of her own to chew (non-toxic one, of course).

Plants like catnip, cat grass, lemongrass, mint, etc., are non-toxic and may be provided as an alternative for your pets to play with.

5. Use of Aluminum Foils

Wrapping up your plants with Aluminum foil is another good way to ensure that your pets don’t chew off on your plants.

However, it’s a time-consuming way since you need to make sure to unwrap the foil to allow sunlight and then wrap it again for protection.

6. Use of Terrariums

A terrarium, also called glass garden, Wardian case, or vivarium, is a glass-encased container used to grow plants in a suitably controlled environment.

Using these can also allow your plant to grow peacefully without any external disturbances.

Terrarium for Plants
Terrarium for Plants (Source: Amazon)

You can this beautiful Terrarium at Amazon.

7. Place Plant Out of Reach

Finally, place your plant in a location where your cats can’t reach it. Your best bet is to make your plants inaccessible to your pet.

Conclusion

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, despite the many varieties of Zebra planets, none of them are toxic to pets.

With proper care, you can raise any of the different varieties of this plant as a beautiful decoration item for your home without worrying about the safety of your pets.

Do you want to find out, if other indoor plants such as bird of paradise, Snake Plant, Pothos, Fizzle Sizzle, Lucky Bamboo are toxic to your pets or not?

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