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Are Snake Plants Toxic to Dogs? Vet-Approved Facts & FAQ

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 10, 2024 by Dogster Team

Are Snake Plants Toxic to Dogs? Vet-Approved Facts & FAQ

VET APPROVED

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

Veterinarian, BVSC GPCERT (OPHTHAL) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

If you’re a dog owner and a plant lover, you may have wondered about the safety of having certain plants in your home. One such plant that has garnered attention is the snake plant, scientifically known as Sansevieria trifasciata.

However, when it comes to the well-being of our furry friends, it’s essential to consider whether owning this beautiful plant poses any potential risks. So, are snake plants toxic to dogs? The answer is yes, snake plants can be harmful to dogs if ingested and can cause digestive irritation and discomfort. 

With its striking appearance and air-purifying properties, snake plants have become increasingly popular as houseplants. While many plant lovers may be disheartened to learn about the risks these plants pose to their furry friends, they can still own them but with the necessary precautions.

Here, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about snake plants, and things you need to consider when owning both a snake plant and a dog!

What Are Snake Plants?

Before we delve into the toxicity of snake plants for dogs, let’s first understand what these plants are. Snake plants, also known as Mother-in-Law’s Tongue and Golden Bird’s Nest, are native to tropical West Africa.

They are known for their long, upright leaves that resemble the patterns of snake skin, hence the name. Snake plants are highly adaptable and can thrive in various lighting conditions, making them a popular choice for indoor gardens. They are known for their ability to purify the air by removing toxins like formaldehyde and benzene.

Snake Plants
Image By: Olena758, Pixabay

Why Are Snake Plants Toxic To Dogs?

Snake plants contain substances that are harmful to dogs. The toxic component found in these plants is a group of chemicals known as saponins.

Saponins are naturally occurring compounds found in various plant species, and they serve as a defense mechanism against herbivores and insects. While saponins are rarely deadly in small amounts, they can cause adverse effects in dogs and cats.

What Are Saponins and Why Are They Harmful to Dogs?

Saponins are naturally occurring glycosides found in many plants, including snake plants. These compounds have a soapy texture and can produce foam when mixed with water. In plants, saponins play a role in protecting against pests and diseases. However, when ingested by dogs, saponins can have toxic effects.

The saponins present in snake plants can cause irritation and inflammation in a dog’s gastrointestinal tract. This can lead to drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea.

In some cases, the saponins can also cause loss of appetite, depression, weakness, incoordination, and changes in the heart rate and blood pressure of the affected dog. It’s important to note that the severity may vary depending on the amount of plant material ingested and the individual dog’s sensitivity.

Signs of Snake Plant Poisoning in Dogs

If your dog has ingested a snake plant, it’s crucial to be aware of the signs of poisoning.

Common signs of snake plant toxicity in dogs include:
  • Drooling
  • Nausea
  • Digestive upset and discomfort
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Incoordination
  • Changes in heart rate and blood pressure

It’s also important to monitor any changes in behavior in your dog. If you notice any of these symptoms or suspect that your dog has ingested a snake plant, it’s important to seek veterinary assistance immediately.

My Dog Ate My Snake Plant, What Should I Do?

If you suspect that your dog has ingested a snake plant or if you observe any signs of poisoning, it’s important to take prompt action.

Removing your dog from the vicinity of the snake plant is extremely important to prevent any further ingestion. This involves moving your dog to an entirely different area or placing the snake plants out of reach.

It’s best to clean your dog’s paws, snout, and mouth from any residual saponin that your dog may have been in contact with to reduce the risk of more saponins from entering their system.

If your dog has only chewed a small amount and not yet exhibited any signs of poisoning, you can monitor their behavior and look out for signs for the next few hours. However, if your dog is showing signs or if you simply want to be prompt, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian immediately.

Report to your veterinarian everything that has transpired, including the signs exhibited and the time frame of the ingestion. You can also bring a sample of your snake plant to help them identify the best course of action.

Follow your veterinarian’s instructions carefully. They may recommend appropriate treatment methods based on the severity and the amount of plant material ingested.

It’s important not to induce vomiting without professional guidance, as some plants or substances can cause more harm if regurgitated. Additionally, avoid administering any home remedies or medications without consulting a veterinarian first, as they can potentially worsen the situation.

woman cleaning dog paw
Image By: ADVTP, Shutterstock

How to Keep Your Dog Safe if You Own Snake Plants

We recommend not keeping snake plants at home if you live with a dog or a cat since the plant is toxic to both species and you may struggle to keep them away from it. If, for whatever reason, you need to keep a snake plant at home and your dog has not made any attempt to nibble on it, here are a few tips to keep a dog-friendly household. Keep in mind that if you live with a cat, these measures won’t be valid. 

Keep the Plants Out of Reach

Placing the snake plants in areas that are inaccessible to your dog is a great and easy way to prevent unwanted ingestion. Consider using hanging planters or placing them on high shelves or countertops where your dog cannot reach them.

Use Barriers

Create physical barriers around the plants, such as baby gates or fencing, to prevent your dog from approaching them. You can also consider using odors that will keep your dogs away from the plant as well.

Dog looking over a fence
Image Credit: Kimberly Hawkins, Pixabay

Proper Training

Train your dog to stay away from certain areas of the house, including where the snake plants are located. This is best done at a younger age during puppyhood.

Teach your dog basic commands like “leave it” or “drop it.” This training can be useful in redirecting their attention away from the plants and reinforcing desirable behaviors.

Provide Alternate Chewing Options

Some dogs may just be bored and in need of stimulation. Provide alternative and safe chewing options for your dog, such as sturdy dog toys or bones, to redirect their attention away from the plants.

It is also best to ensure that your dog receives plenty of exercise, playtime, and mental enrichment. Boredom and lack of stimulation can lead dogs to explore and chew on plants out of curiosity.

dalmatiam dog playing chew toy
Image Credit: 5 second Studio, Shutterstock

What Are Non-Toxic Alternatives to Snake Plants?

If you’re concerned about the safety of snake plants but still want to enjoy the beauty of indoor greenery, there are several non-toxic plant alternatives that you can consider:

  • Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exalta bostoniensis)
  • Areca Palm (Dypsis lutescens)
  • Spider Plant (Anthericum comosum)
  • Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)
  • Friendship Plant (Pilea involucrata)
  • Ponytail Plant (Beaucarnea recurvata)

These plants are known to be safe for dogs and can add a touch of greenery to your home without posing a risk to your furry companion’s curiosity.

Pot of hanging Boston fern
Image Credit: JADEZMITH, Shutterstock

Conclusion

Snake plants are toxic to dogs, and it’s essential to stay informed about the specific needs and potential hazards associated with them. Snake plants can be toxic to dogs due to the presence of saponins, which can cause gastrointestinal irritation and discomfort when ingested in small amounts.

By implementing preventive measures and prioritizing your dog’s safety, you can enjoy the beauty of snake plants while keeping your furry friend out of harm’s way!

See Also:


Featured Image Credit: PublicDomainPictures, Pixabay

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