Wondering if your dog can safely coexist with your snake plant at home? While snake plants are widely valued for their air-purifying qualities and low-maintenance nature, dog owners should be aware that these plants can pose a potential health risk to their dogs.
In this article, we will delve into the question, “Are snake plants toxic to dogs?” and provide you with essential information about the toxic component of snake plants and their effects on canines.
These will help you make an informed decision about whether to keep your snake plant if you have a dog.
Snake Plant Poisoning in Dogs
Snake plant poisoning is caused by ingesting the resilient flowering plant with swordlike leaves named the snake plant.
In botany, this succulent is formerly called Sansevieria trifasciata and is now known as Dracaena trifasciata. Snake plants also go by other names like good luck plant, golden bird’s nest, and mother-in-law’s tongue.
Causes of Snake Plant Poisoning in Dogs
The main toxic components of snake plants are called saponins. These chemicals are a part of their defensive mechanism against potential threats.
They function as a natural insecticide and a fungicide. However, apart from pesky critters and harmful microbes, saponins also have a negative effect on humans and canines.
Which Part of the Snake Plant Is Toxic to Dogs?
All parts of the snake plant are toxic to dogs including its fruits, foliage, and roots. The highest concentrations of saponins are found in the skin of their leaves.
Dog owners should also look out for the sap or juice of snake plants. Coming into contact with it can cause a different set of adverse reactions in canines. We will discuss the side effects of the plant as you read further.
How Toxic Are Snake Plants to Dogs?
Despite their ominous name, snake plants are only mildly toxic to canines. Ingesting their saponins can cause mild gastrointestinal upset, while skin contact with its sap can result in skin irritations.
However, if consumed in large amounts, these toxic plants for dogs may give rise to more severe and life-threatening side effects.
Introducing high concentrations of saponins in the canine body leads red blood cells to burst. They also interfere with the cells’ pathways, causing cells to perish.
Fortunately for dog parents, the saponins give snake plants a bitter taste. Thus, most dogs do not actively seek them out.
Symptoms of Snake Plant Poisoning in Dogs
The most common signs of snake plant toxicity in canines are excessive drooling, vomiting, and nausea. These are due to the saponins irritating their mouth and digestive tract.
Here are other symptoms of toxicity to keep an eye on:
- Abdominal pain
- Swollen mouth, tongue, lips, and airway
If your dog has eaten any part of the snake plant, rinse his mouth with water to remove the residue of the saponins. Give him a quick bath too if you suspect that he has come into contact with the toxic plant’s sap.
Under no circumstances should you induce vomiting without the vet’s guidance. Otherwise, you are putting your dog’s life at risk of aspiration.
The next step is to compile important information about the plant your dog has ingested. Take note of what part was ingested and how much did he manage to consume. Write down the approximate time of the incident too.
Take the plant with you when going to the vet for diagnosis. It will help them make an accurate assessment of your canine companion’s condition.
As snake plants are low in toxicity, the onset of poisoning may not occur. So observe your dog closely for 24 to 48 hours for symptoms of toxicity. Bring him to the vet if the symptoms begin to appear.
Diagnosis of Snake Plant Poisoning in Dogs
The vet will conduct a physical exam and check any abnormalities in your dog’s vital signs. If your dog is vomiting or having diarrhea, samples will be taken to rule out the possibility of intestinal parasites.
Other tests will be carried out for a more precise diagnosis such as:
- Blood work: Helps detect signs of fatal complications in the internal organs
- Packed Cell Volume: Provides information if your dog is at risk of dehydration
- Urinalysis: Checks the kidneys for potential damage
Once the vet confirms that your dog is experiencing snake plant toxicity, treatment will be administered.
Treatment of Snake Plant Poisoning in Dogs
The most common course of vet treatments for snake plant toxicity in dogs are:
- Induce vomiting to expel undigested plant material from your dog’s stomach.
- Intake of activated charcoal that binds with the saponins and prevents their absorption into the body.
- Fluid therapy to get rid of remaining toxins and address liquid and electrolyte loss due to vomiting and diarrhea.
- Prescription of medications to manage toxicity symptoms. Antiemetics will be provided to reduce vomiting, while gastrointestinal protectants are given to lessen gastric irritation.
Recovery Time of Snake Plant Poisoning in Dogs
The prognosis for snake plant toxicity in dogs will depend on the severity and timeliness of treatment.
In most cases, canines with mild cases of poisoning can make a full recovery within 1 to 2 days. That is also if their condition was immediately brought to the vet’s attention.
On the other hand, the prognosis for severe toxicity may not be as positive. It would take a week or two for dogs to recover from such aggressive poisoning. Delayed treatment may lead to fatal results.
How to Prevent Dogs from Eating Snake Plants
Here are a few tips to keep your canine companion safe from the dangers of snake plant poisoning:
- Place the succulent on elevated areas, such as hanging them on hooks so they are out of reach.
- Apply natural doggy repellents on the snake plant like apple cider vinegar or orange zest to keep your dog away from them.
- Clean up any fallen parts of the plant to prevent your dog from ingesting them.
If your dog still manages to access the snake plant, move it outdoors and erect a tall sturdy fence around it. Or consider removing the succulent permanently from your home.
FAQ About Snake Plants
1. Is snake plant pet-safe?
No, the snake plant is not pet-safe. Its irritating saponins are poisonous to dogs and cats. Make this succulent inaccessible if you have pets in your home.
2. Are all snake plants toxic to pets?
It is not properly determined if all species of snake plants are toxic to dogs. However, for the sake of your furry pal’s safety, keep him away from every variety of these flowering plants.
3. Is snake plant only toxic to dogs?
Yes, the snake plant is only toxic if ingested. But keep in mind that apart from toxicity, it can also cause rashes if its sap comes into contact with the skin.
15 Toxic Plants to Dogs
There are a handful of plants that possess toxic risks and other dangers to your canine companion. Here are some varieties you should be aware of:
1. Allium Species
Allium plants including onions, chives, and garlic can cause the destruction of red blood cells, which may lead to hemolytic anemia.
However, note that garlic is only toxic to canines if ingested in large amounts. This vegetable lends several nutrients and health benefits if supplemented to your furry pal’s diet.
Alocasia plants contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals that can cause a range of health issues in dogs. Ingesting these crystals can lead to gastric distress, breathing problems, oral irritation, pain and swelling of the mouth, tongue, and lips, and skin irritations.
3. Areca Palm
Technically, the areca palm does not contain toxins, but it is found to release air pollutants called volatile organic compounds.
Some dog owners wonder: “What are the most poisonous plants to dogs?” Azaleas are one of the most poisonous plants to dogs. They contain grayanotoxins, which can induce poisoning as little as ingesting 0.2% of a dog’s body weight.
5. Dumb Cane
Insoluble calcium oxalates are present in the dumb cane. This toxic plant causes the same side effects as alocasia.
6. Fruit Plants and Peels
Certain fruits such as apples, oranges, and plums have some parts that can be toxic to dogs like their pits, peels, or seeds. Removing them makes these fruits safe for your furry pal to consume.
7. Lily of the Valley
Lily of the valley, a plant commonly found in gardens, contains substances known as cardiac glycosides. These substances can interfere with the heart function of dogs and lead to symptoms such as heart arrhythmias and a slow heart rate. In some cases, a slow heart rate can cause fainting, while seizures may occur due to a neurologic alteration caused by the toxins in the plant.
8. Morning Glory
The seeds and foliage of the morning glory contain lysergic alkaloids, which affect the canine digestive system and central nervous system. They evoke stomach upset, disorientation, and hallucinations in dogs.
Similar to the lily of the valley, this plant contains cardiac glycosides that can cause abnormal cardiac function.
10. Peace Lily
Insoluble calcium oxalates naturally occur in peace lilies. If eaten, dogs may display similar symptoms to dumb cane or alocasia poisoning.
11. Sago Palm
The cycasin in sago palm has a devastating effect on canines as it can potentially cause severe liver failure.
Tulips contain two prominent toxic agents called Tulipalin A and B. These agents can trigger a range of symptoms in dogs, including cardiac arrhythmias, vomiting, depression and diarrhea. It’s worth noting that the highest concentration of these toxins is found in the bulb of the tulip plant.
13. Weeping Fig
The weeping fig has an irritating sap that elicits stomach, skin, and oral irritation.
Yew contains toxic alkaloids called taxines, which can alter the heart rate and cause life-threatening symptoms like tremors, seizures, and coma.
15. ZZ Plant
ZZ plant also produces insoluble calcium oxalates that pierce the tissues and cause irritation.
Although snake plants have low toxicity levels for dogs, ingestion can still lead to serious health issues. Keep them out of your dog’s reach to prevent any potential harm. For more information on safe and toxic plants for dogs, check out our Plants section to keep your dog safe.