If you have a household that includes a furry friend, you’re probably well aware of pet care. Proper food, clean water, and a safe place to sleep help meet their basic needs so your dog can be comfortable living with you.
However, other environmental concerns don’t always appear at the forefront of your mind. Some pet owners are also fans of houseplants, not realizing that some interactions between the two shouldn’t happen.
Some flora shouldn’t come into contact with fauna. Is that the case for the pothos plant? Are pothos toxic to dogs? Keep reading to find out what a pothos is, why it’s toxic to dogs, and how to prevent your pooch from getting into tummy trouble.
- Is Lemongrass Plant and Oil Safe For Dogs?
- Can Dogs Eat Sage Plant?
- What Should You Do If Your Dog Ate A Jalapeno?
- Can Dogs Eat Honey Nut Cheerios?
What Are Pothos Plants?
One of the most common houseplants is a lovely vining type with heart-shaped leaves. The pothos, or “Devil’s ivy,” is a popular sight in homes and offices that incorporate greenery. Low-maintenance and fast-growing, it’s a delight to watch as it takes shape up walls and around furniture, and adds a bright splash of life to any room.
There are dozens of different types of pothos, including
- Golden pothos
- Marble Queen pothos (variegated leaves)
- Neon pothos (brighter, fluorescent colors)
- Silver pothos
- Cebu blue pothos
- Satin or silk pothos
The differences between these types lie mostly in the leaf color. Regardless of which variety your pothos is, most look similar enough that they share basic characteristics of shape and size. Know how to recognize a pothos so that you can plan your home decor around your canine companion and keep them both out of danger.
Not all plants are toxic to pets. Most houseplants won’t cause problems at all, even if your dog ingests them. Some leaves even have a bitter or unpleasant taste, meaning your dog is most likely to leave them alone.
However, the entire pothos is dangerous for them to eat. The leaves, stems, roots, and even seeds contain irritants that do not agree with a dog’s biology. Within a matter of minutes, or as long as one hour, symptoms that range from mild to serious could develop.
The specific agent of the pothos plant that causes harm is due to tiny, insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. When an animal bites into these, they bother the tissues in their mouth and GI tract. If you’re lucky, the irritation will contain itself to the lips and tongue and go away after a matter of a few hours. But it’s better to be prepared to avoid this scenario in the first place.
It’s interesting to note that some other plants, such as starfruit and rhubarb, contain soluble oxalate crystals, and therefore don’t cause the same danger to your pet.
Avoiding Doggie Destruction
Now that you know that the answer to “are pothos toxic to dogs?” is positive, learn how to keep them away from your pet.
Any pup can destroy a houseplant if they get bored or adventurous enough. However, consider these tips for ensuring your dog won’t get sick from munching on a pothos plant in your absence:
- Place the pothos out of reach. A shelf that’s high up on the wall is a good start. As these are vining plants, you also need to be aware that they will grow in whichever direction you guide them. A trellis or other supportive structure will help train it to grow away from the floor and therefore keep it out of your dog’s eye view.
- Guard the plant with chicken wire or some other obstruction so your dog can’t reach any part of the leaves, stem, or flowers.
- It’s possible to train your dog to stay away from certain household items, but this isn’t a safe option. There are spray deterrents available on the market that can cover a plant in foul-tasting liquid so your dog doesn’t have any interest in trying it at all. You can also concoct your own mixture with diluted lemon juice, as dogs hate the strong citrus scent.
- If your dog is likely to wreak havoc on things other than plants, consider crating them while you’re gone. This will protect your dog’s health as well as your possessions.
- Separate your dog from a designated “plant room,” where they don’t have access to your houseplants and won’t come across them due to barriers such as gates or closed doors.
Help! My Dog Ate Pothos, What Do I Do?
Of course, it’s impossible to prevent every catastrophe in your living space. Though you might do your homework and ensure as many toxic plants as possible are out of your dog’s reach, accidents do happen.
If you come home to shredded leaves, an upturned clay pot, or dirt strewn across the floor, chances are your pooch got curious and decided to cause trouble with your pothos. Carefully examine the area to see how much of the plant they ingested.
It could be that they were more interested in being destructive than actually eating any bits of it. However, if it looks as though your dog ate the pothos, it’s time to take action.
Sometimes a plant interaction isn’t life-threatening, especially with larger dogs. But the symptoms of toxicity could lead to greater issues.
Be on the lookout for signs of GI distress.
- Lip swelling or numbness
- Difficulty breathing (usually due to a swollen tongue)
- Excessive drooling
- Pawing at the mouth (indicating pain or irritation)
- Extended whining or showing signs of other discomforts
- Loss of appetite
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
Have the numbers for both local veterinary services and also the ASPCA Poison Control numbers available, so that you can be prepared if a mishap does occur. It’s better to have handy access to the resources you need, such as a sticky note on the refrigerator or listed inside your medicine cabinet than add to stress when you suspect your dog might have ingested poison.
If vomiting or diarrhea occurs, it could be that the plant has made its way through their system, and all you can do is wait it out. Though messy and uncomfortable for them, this is a good sign that they are processing the toxins and that their body is combatting the symptoms on its own.
Fortunately, once your dog encounters this plant and experiences nasty side effects, that might be enough to deter them from sampling it again. But given enough time lapse and the right amount of boredom, they may go back to it again. It’s best not to take the risk!
Other Plants To Avoid
Besides pothos, there are several other common houseplants and yard foliage that you should take care to separate your dog from. These include
- Elephant’s ear
- Peace lilies
- Sago palms
- Umbrella plants
In addition, there are several names that garden centers sometimes list instead of pothos that are helpful to know. These are Devil’s ivy, Taro Vine, and Ivy Arum. Having these names in the back of your mind will help you remember what not to purchase if you want to protect your dog.
Check out the answers to some common questions.
Are golden pothos toxic to dogs?
Yes, any variety of pothos contains insoluble oxalate crystals that irritate the tissues of their respiratory and GI system.
What do I do if I suspect my dog has ingested a pothos plant?
Make sure they are not in life-threatening distress and you have them under control in a contained area. Call your ASPCA Poison Control or your local vet immediately to ask what they recommend you do.
Is pothos toxic to all dogs?
Yes, regardless of the breed or size of the dog, the pothos plant can cause them significant distress. It’s possible that larger dogs may not struggle as badly, but they are not immune to the irritation that the pothos plant causes when eaten.
My dog ate a pothos – are they going to die?
It’s highly unlikely that this plant ingestion is fatal. However, it’s not guaranteed that your dog couldn’t find itself in serious trouble due to the symptoms of irritation present. For example, even if the level of toxicity in the plant isn’t enough to kill a dog, it could cause their tongue, throat, or airway to swell up to the point where they can’t breathe.
So – are pothos toxic to dogs? Now you know they are, so it’s time to move them out of harm’s way!
There’s a reason the pothos is one of the most popular houseplants available. It’s almost unbelievable how little you need to tend to it to get the most gorgeous, trailing vines. They grow quickly and adapt to virtually any environment.
For pothos lovers who are also dog lovers, just keep in mind that your pooch doesn’t take to these lovely plants as well as you do. Keep the two separated, or at least keep the plant far out of reach, to ensure your pup doesn’t encounter nasty symptoms of toxicity after they let their curiosity go too far.
If your dog does ingest part of a pothos plant, don’t panic. They will most likely be fine, but it is important to take steps right away to lessen their stress and make sure their respiratory and GI system stay healthy. With a little forethought and some careful planning, you can have the plant you want and the pet you wish without the danger of the two interacting.