Toxic and Safe Succulents For Cats, Dogs, and other Pets

cat around safe succulents

Can your furry friends and succulents live happily under the same roof?

There are two concerns you’ve probably considered. First, what if your pet eats, or soils, or otherwise destroys your new succulent? Second, is it possible your succulent, if eaten by your pet, would cause them some harm?

Well, some succulents are completely harmless but some can cause irritation and mild discomfort.

In this article we will go over a safe succulents, toxic succulents, and setting up plants in a way that keeps your pet (and the plant) safe.

Succulents that are Safe for Your Pets

Most succulents possess no harm to your pets and will be completely fine even if your dog or cat chews it up and uproots it. However, the same can’t be said for the poor succulent.

1. Echeveria

Echeveria are one of the most elegant succulents you can lay hands on.

They look great in solo pots and are easy to maintain.

All species of Echeveria are safe for both humans as well as pets.

2. Haworthia (Zebra cactus)

Besides from being one of the most photogenic plants, the Zebra cactus is also safe for your furry friends.

The Zebra cactus doesn’t mind being kept in low-light areas and are extremely versatile. These make a great addition to your succulent collection and pose no risk to cats or dogs.

3. Sempervivum (Hens and chicks)

Mostly known for its ability to produce numerous offsets, hens and chicks can survive in both hot as well as cold temperatures.

They make the best outdoor succulents, especially as a ground cover because of their speedy propagation.

4. Burro’s tail

Also known as Donkey’s tail and Sedum Burrito, the Burro’s tail is a beautiful trailing succulent that looks like a waterfall from a planter when hung above.

They grow so fast that you may not even be able to keep up!

5. Christmas cactus

It gets its name from the fact that it grows reddish pink flowers in winter. This low-maintenance beauty can be propagated easily and it makes a perfect gift for the holidays.

6. Opuntia species

One of the iconic Opuntia cacti is the Prickly Pear. It has paddle-like flat leaves and bears edible egg-shaped fruit. Even its nutrient-loaded leaves are edible. So there are few concerns about your pets eating this one (though we still don’t encourage letting your pets freely eat these plants, as it’s not a risk worth taking).

Succulents that are toxic for pets

There’s a fair share of succulents that are toxic for your pets.

To this day, only two species, Kalanchoe and Euphorbia, have been claimed as poisonous to humans. However, for pets, the list is much longer.

1. Aloe Vera

Toxic to dogs, cats, and horses.

Who knew this boon of succulent that has healing properties on humans could be toxic to pets?

Aloe vera contains Saponin which is proven to be harmful for pets when ingested. It also contains Aloin, which pulls extra water into the animal’s colon causing various digestive system discomfort.

Clinical symptoms of Aloe Vera poisoning:

  • Abdominal pain/cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Skin irritation
  • Lethargy
  • Tremors

2. Euphorbia species

Toxic to dogs, humans, and birds.

The Euphorbia family consists of some highly poisonous plants to mildly poisonous plants.

Sap from this plant is toxic when ingested as well as when it comes in contact with the skin.

They are toxic to not just pets but also humans.

Clinical symptoms of poisoning:

  • When ingested
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea.
  • With skin contact
  • Skin irritation
  • Redness
  • Itchiness
  • Dermatitis
  • Swelling

There’s also a risk of mild conjunctivitis in case the sap comes in contact with eyes.

3. Kalanchoe species

Toxic to dogs, cats, and humans.

Kalanchoe are one of the flowering succulents, with colors ranging from yellow to orange-pink and even red.

Ingestion of any part of this plant can cause gastrointestinal problems.

When ingested in large amounts, it could be life-threatening.

Clinical symptoms of poisoning:

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Tremors
  • Seizures (rare)

4. Crassula Ovata (Jade Plant)

Toxic to dogs and cats.

Jade plants are one of the most popular houseplants and they are commonly called as money tree, lucky tree, and friendship tree. These little tree-like succulents make great bonsai. They aesthetically pleasing because of their miniature tree-like structure and smooth, glossy leaves.

Clinical symptoms of poisoning:

  • Vomiting
  • Depression
  • Incoordination
  • Lethargy

5. Sansevieria Trifasciata (Snake Plant)

Toxic to cats and dogs.

Snake plants are also one of the most popular indoor plants as they remove toxins from the air.

They have long and pointy green leaves, mostly with a yellow edge.

Although they remove benzene and formaldehyde from the air, they contain saponin which is toxic to cats and dogs.

Clinical symptoms of poisoning:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Low-heart rate
  • Lethargy.

6. Senecio Rowleyanus (String of Pearls)

Toxic to dogs, cats, and most other pets.

String of Pearls looks like peas, making them look pretty darn edible.

So, we can’t entirely blame your cat or your dog for chewing up on this. However, you need to make sure they don’t.

The sap of this plant can cause skin irritation and other symptoms.

Clinical symptoms of poisoning:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy

How to Treat a Pet that has Eaten a Toxic Succulent

First, try to keep your succulents out of your pets reach.

Second, if they get to your succulent and eat them, immediately call your vet. Identify what succulent it is and they will inform you if you need to rush your pet to the veterinary.

You can also contact poison control centres if your vet doesn’t have enough knowledge regarding any possible poisoning from the succulent.

If you caught the pet right as it ate the succulent, you can always try to induce vomiting at home with a small amount of hydrogen peroxide.

How to Keep your Pets Away From Toxic Succulents

Whether or not the succulent is toxic, you still don’t want your pet eating them. It creates a mess, ruins your garden, and now you have to go out and buy another plant.

Here are a few ways you can encourage your pets to stay away from your succulents.

Train your pets

The most effective way to keep your pets away from your succulents is to train them. It takes time but it is worth it. A basic way to teach them is to teach your pet to respond to the command ‘no.”

Doing this helps the animal relate the word “no” to your disapproval. After you’ve done this, you can sternly say “No” as soon as they go near your plant or start biting on them.

This light scolding of your pet teaches them to keep away from the succulents.

Be consistent with this, as soon your pet will learn to avoid this plant altogether.

Use cages — for the plant

Don’t worry, we aren’t asking you to lock up your pet (though crate training a dog while you are not home isn’t a terrible idea).

But you can use normal bird cages and place your succulents inside. Or buy a chicken wire of desirable length and breadth and place it around the edge of the pot.

Make sure that the cage is tall enough so that your pets do not reach the plant, as well as short enough that you can properly water your plant.

Coffee grounds

Most cats and dogs do not like the pungent smell of coffee.

Sprinkle some coffee grounds on the edge of the pot, or you can mix it with some orange peel and it works as a fertilizer as well!

Make sure your pets are safe!

Again, make sure to keep your succulents out of your pets’ reach.

It is best to avoid buying succulents, or plants in general, that could potentially be harmful to your pets.

Pick succulents that are safe for your pets, as discussed above.

Conclusion

Plenty of people have succulents and pets. It is more than doable. A well-trained pet goes along way, but we still recommend avoiding succulents that are toxic to your pets.

It is better to be safe than sorry.

For more information on poisonous succulents, or any other toxic plants for your pets, you can do more research on the ASPCA’s (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) official site.

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