Pothos, or Epipremnum aureum, is one of the most popular houseplants. It’s common to find it in offices, restaurants, and homes thanks to its ability to grow well in low-light conditions and its resistance to pests. But what happens when your Pothos accidentally lands on your pet? Are Pothos toxic to cats and dogs? If so, how severely? What should you be doing about it? All that and more is answered right here.
Some people will tell you that pothos poisoning is harmless if only small amounts are ingested, but others warn against even having this plant around pets.
Many dog and cat owners are curious about their pet’s safety and how they can manage a healthy environment while keeping up with their gardening hobby.
Related: 20+ Types of Pothos and Varieties
We’re here to tell you that the two are not mutually exclusive. You can absolutely keep plants around a house with pets, even poisonous ones, as long as you take the proper precautions. Here’s how.
In this article, we’ll look at the facts about Pothos’ toxicity so that any pet owner can determine whether it’s safe enough for their home.
Related: Underwatered vs Overwatered Pothos
Are Pothos toxic to dogs?
The short answer is yes; Pothos are toxic to dogs.
But before we get into all the details, let’s look at why you might be asking this question in the first place. Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) is a popular houseplant that can grow around ten feet tall and has heart-shaped leaves that are often variegated with yellow or white stripes. Many gardeners love it for its lush foliage and the fact that it’s easy to care for—it doesn’t require much light or water, so you can forget about it for weeks at a time. But if your pup gets into some of these pretty vines, he may end up with an unpleasant experience.
Pothos poisoning can cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and even kidney failure in some cases if not addressed quickly enough by your veterinarian.
Dogs are particularly susceptible to Pothos poisoning because of their inherently curious nature. A dog might go out of its way to investigate a funny-looking plant if they see it.
Are Pothos toxic to cats?
If you own a cat, you may be wondering if she’s at risk of pothos poisoning. The answer is yes—but it’s important to remember that cats are more sensitive to the toxic effects of Pothos than dogs, so it’s important for cat owners to keep their plants away from where the animal can reach them.
Cat owners should also be aware that cats are likely to chew on this plant, especially when they’re teething. This can cause mild symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, but in severe cases, it can lead to lethargy or even death in very rare cases.
The good news is that the toxic effects of Pothos are easily treatable, so if your cat chews on one of these plants and begins vomiting or displaying other symptoms, it’s a solvable problem.
Cats are also much less prone to repeating mistakes like this one than dogs, so if your cat ends up with a mild case of Pothos poisoning and you provide it with an alternative chew toy, there’s a good chance that she won’t try to eat it again.
How toxic is Pothos to cats and dogs?
Pothos are only moderately toxic. While it is true that it can be fatal to a pet if ingested continuously, it is almost never the case. Your pet’s natural survival instincts kick quickly and prevent them from ingesting more than a token leaf or a broken branch before their internal system tells them not to anymore.
But, even if your cat or dog ingests Pothos and begins vomiting, do not panic. Most cases of pothos toxicity are easily solvable with a visit to the veterinarian for supportive care and correction of symptoms like vomiting.
Which part of the pothos plant is toxic?
All parts of the pothos plant are equally toxic, so there’s no part you can cut off to make it safer for your pets. The whole pothos plant is toxic and should be kept away from cats and dogs at all times.
Why Are Pothos Toxic To Cats and Dogs?
The reason for pothos toxicity is the presence of calcium oxalate crystals in the plant. These crystals are inherently sharp and can damage the mouth, throat, and stomach.
The crystals can be mildly painful when ingested by cats and dogs, leading to vomiting and diarrhea. They stimulate the inner lining of the mouth or nasal cavity, resulting in mild to severe irritation and inflammation. This can cause difficulty breathing or swallowing, along with drooling and excessive salivation.
What are the symptoms of Pothos poisoning?
If your cat or dog has ingested Pothos, you will likely see the following symptoms within a few hours:
The symptoms depend on how much Pothos leaves or stems your pet has ingested. Most cats and dogs know when something is actively harmful to them. They will stop eating a Pothos leaf after its sap irritates their mouths and tongues.
Mild symptoms of Pothos poisoning include:
If not treated quickly, these mild symptoms can develop into more serious ones. Early treatment is key if you want to prevent any long-lasting effects. Symptoms of prolonged exposure to these calcium oxalate crystals include.
In extremely rare cases, a pet may develop seizures or foam at the mouth as the result of ingesting a large amount of Pothos leaves or stems. These are alarming symptoms and warrant an emergency visit to the vet.
How do you treat a cat/dog poisoned by Pothos?
If you suspect that a pothos has poisoned your cat or dog, here are some first-aid steps you can take to help them:
- Wipe the animal’s mouth clean with a washcloth or paper towel. If vomiting occurs within the next few minutes, keep wiping their mouth until it’s clean and not foamy.
- Wash out their mouth by forcibly rinsing them with water. Doing this is most beneficial if you’ve caught your cat or dog in the act.
- Try to induce vomiting so that the pet can cough up and expel the plant material. If you catch your pet after the fact, it may be too late to induce it.
- Induce more frequent urination by giving them water or food high in salt content (like chicken broth) for several days after the incident to help flush out any crystals from the system.
- If possible, take your pet to a vet immediately because there is no better solution.
How to Keep Your Pothos Away from Dogs
One of the easier ways to keep your Pothos Plant away from dogs is to keep them out of reach. If you have an indoor plant, consider placing it in a hanging basket that’s high enough for your dog not to be able to get to it. This will prevent your dog from having easy access.
If you have outdoor plants, make sure you train your dog to stay away from them. If he finds them to his liking, he may return again and again for more—and if that happens, remove all sources of access immediately!
Do note, however, that some dogs can be deceptively smart and find ways to reach plants that are out of reach. Maybe rethink your plant policy if you’re unable to outsmart your dog.
How to Keep Your Pothos Away from Cats
Cats are somewhat easier to handle than dogs because of their inherent skittishness. They’re also less likely to eat Pothos than dogs are. However, if you have a cat that likes to chew on plants or nibble on leaves, it’s best to keep your Pothos out of reach.
For indoor plants, keeping the plant out of view is a good place to start. If your cat likes to climb, you may need to move your Pothos higher up on the wall or hang it from something sturdy enough that a cat can’t knock it down.
For outdoor vines, determine whether your cat has access to the area. If not, you may be able to plant your Pothos outside without worrying about them being eaten by your feline friend.
It is no secret that most cats are incredibly curious creatures. If you have pothos vines in your home and are within paw’s reach, your cat will likely try to investigate it. The smart thing to do is to gauge your cat’s reaction and find out if he or she is interested in chewing on a pothos vine. If so, you should move the plant out of view or risk having it destroyed by curious kitty paws!