Are Succulents Poisonous?

Kelvin M. Kelvin Mwathi on

As a plant and animal lover, you want a peaceful co-existence among your closest possessions – your succulents and pets. And even yourself and the kids. No brainer right?

You don’t want either of them to harm the other. But it could happen that your pet or kiddo takes a bite of one of your succulents. Does that succulent have any harmful component? Is that succulent poisonous?

Well, that depends on the specific succulent species that is involved. That is to say, most succulents are totally harmless. You’ll have a peace of mind if you’re keeping them in and around your home. But there are a few of them that will need more caution and quick action in case of ingestion. You’ll see them in a few.

Let’s continue on!

Why Are Some Succulents Poisonous?

Toxicity is a defense mechanism for most plants against herbivores. They want to survive, just like any other living thing out there. At the same time, there are lots of hungry herbivores looking to gobble them up in an instant.

So they employ an array of ways to discourage as many of these animals as possible. They include spines and thorns, bad taste, disgusting scents and finally toxic compositions.

The toxins cause a certain amount of discomfort that serves to put off future bites. Some could be severe if not tended to accordingly.

The Most Common Poisonous Succulents

Below is a short assortment of some of the most common succulents that may cause a risk for your pets and even children at home. If you have any of the below succulents be sure to keep watch for ingestion, in the odd case that you find yourself in this position, consult a professional.

Aloe Vera

Yeah, the most popular succulent apparently isn’t very safe for your pets. Darn it!

Despite its medical properties, the aloe doesn’t get along very well with especially cats and dogs.

The toxins contained in this darling of a succulent are saponins, anthraquinones, anthracene and glycosides. When ingested, they lead to

  • Vomiting
  • Red urine
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy.

Be sure to keep your cats and dogs away from this plant at all times, we don’t want our precious pets do feel sick do we?

Kalanchoes

Kalanchoes have a mild toxicity towards cats and dogs. Not as severe as aloe vera has with pets but this doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about these houseplants. You still need to keep a watchful eye.

They contain bufadienolides that cause diarrhea, vomiting, irregular heartbeat, mouth irritation, drooling as well as severe weakness.

Jade Plant—Crassula Ovata

Ingestion of the Jade plants in dogs and cats can lead to similar side effects from the plants mentioned earlier. Take a look below.

  • Tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach upsets
  • Loss of coordination, leading to a sort of drunkenness
  • Dry-heaving
  • Lethargy

Once again, please refrain your pets and smaller children from being near the jade plant. Keep ’em safe!

Euphorbia

The Euphorbias contain a white latex sap that isn’t particularly soothing to be in contact with – for both humans and animals.

On the contact with the skin, the sap causes irritation. Rashes are imminent in humans. Think something similar to eczema, the side effects and causes of this sap is almost identical. The irritation is one of the most annoying things about it!

Other signs include stomach and oral irritation and vomiting.

Snake Plant—Sansevieria Trifasciata

Probably the name has already invoked an uncomfortable feeling in you. In that case, it is perfectly fine as the snake plant contains saponins responsible for a number of reactions in cats and dogs.

Saponins cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy like many other poisonous plants to cats and dogs.

String of Pearls

Another aesthetic asset that can be quite rough to you or your pets. The string of pearls has a sap that causes lifelessness, vomiting, skin irritation and diarrhea.

Did you say lifelessness? Yes. So be extra careful about this plant being around your loved ones, little animal friends included.

Additional Resources on Poisonous Succulents

Those are some of common potentially harmful succulents around. But it is in no way exhaustive. There is a whole lot of trusted bodies that can offer more information about the succulents you have questions about as far as toxicity is concerned. Be sure to check them out.

  • California Poison Control System
  • ASPCA
  • Pet Poison Help Line
  • USDA Poisonous Plant Research
  • The UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Toxic Plant Garden

What to Do if You Suspect Poisoning

In the unfortunate event that a pet of yours has taken a bite off of these not-so friendly succulents, be quick in whatever action you go for – you’ll see that below.

Observe your pets for signs of any stem and leaf pieces on the coats and the mouth area and wash them off to prevent any further discomfort. Now, call up any of the following

  • Local veterinary
  • ASPCA Animal Poison Control Centre (888-426-4435)
  • Pet Poison Helpline (855-764-7661)

Whomever you decide to call, be sure to know exactly the plant ingested to receive explicit help.

How to Keep Your Pets Away from Poisonous Succulents

You can always be ahead of situations by taking a few precautions.

To make things easier, you may choose to completely avoid toxic succulents. You won’t have to worry about anything that way.

But if you can’t help it, here are a few general steps you can take to avert trouble

  • Consider spraying your succulents with Bitter Apple. Don’t worry, it’s completely harmless to both the succulent and your pets. It just deters your pets from snacking on the plants.
  • Provide your pets with an alternative vegetation to chew on. Naturally cats and dogs want to eat a bit of green every now and then in search of roughage that is so needed in digestion. Pet grass is great for this. That should hopefully keep them busy.
  • Keep your pets entertained by giving them attention and playing with them whenever you can. Boredom is a sure incitement for them to think about eating your succulents.
  • You can also barricade your plants using things like old bird cages and terrariums. If the plants are in a particular room, be sure to lock it up.
  • Keep the plants in elevated places. This really helps for small pets and children. Well, this is debatable for a cat.
  • And finally, be sure to pick up any flying pieces of plants from around the house.

Don’t forget to look out for yourself too. Always have protective clothing to guard against some saps that are notorious for dermatitis.


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Happy planting!

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Are Succulents Poisonous?