Houseplants and Pets

Posted In: Behavior & Training, Feline Health & Wellness, Canine Health & Wellness

Cats and dogs can be drawn to plants for a number of reasons. It may be that the plants taste good or that your pet is trying to settle an upset tummy by eating plants. Pets will also eat plants if they have a nutritional deficiency, or they may eat plants simply because they are bored.

Ingesting any plant has the potential to cause vomiting, diarrhea, or gastrointestinal irritation, and some plants are toxic to pets, causing serious side effects, even death if eaten.

Here are some tips on pets and houseplants:

Know your plants.
Learning which plants are toxic to pets is important. Some common houseplants have the potential to cause serious harm. If you have a plant that is toxic, remove the plant from your home. It isn’t worth the risk of your pet becoming fatally sick.

Keep plants out of your pet’s reach.
Putting plants up on shelves or counters can keep your dog from destroying plants. But, cats love to jump and climb, so you may find it hard to move plants out of their reach. If you can’t keep your pet away from them, do not keep the plants in your house. 

Spray plants with diluted lemon juice.
Lemon juice is safe for plants and can be a natural deterrent for pets. You can purchase the spray premixed, or you can make your own. You can also add orange and lemon peels to the pot with the plant. Pets don’t like the smell of citrus, so adding the orange and lemon peels to the pot can keep your pets away. An added benefit is that peels can be good for your plants and provide great nutrients.

Create a safe space for your pet.
When you can’t supervise your pet or trust they will leave the plants alone, find a safe space for your pet. Crate your dog or putting your pet in a room where there are no plants. Be sure that your pet has access to fresh water that your cat has access to a litter box at all times.

Use positive reinforcement.
You may be able to train your dog or cat to stay away from plants with a little training. If you notice your pet is leaving the plants alone, give a small, yummy treat right away. Repeating this will teach your pet that good things happen away from the plant. For more positive reinforcement training tips, visit http://hsmo.org/behavior/.

Talk to your veterinarian.
If your pet tries to eat plants on a regular basis, contact your veterinarian to rule out underlying health or behavior issues. Your pet may be lacking in essential nutrients or may have a medical or behavioral condition that needs to be addressed.

The Animal Medical Center of Mid-America has veterinarians at two locations that can answer questions about your pet’s health. Call 314-951-1534 or click here to request an appointment online.