Are Snake Plants Really Poisonous To Dogs? (Complete Guide)
If you have dogs or snake plants in your home, there are some facts you should familiarize yourself with before mixing the two. Many popular houseplants have natural defense mechanisms that help to ward off pests and diseases. Snake plants happen to be one of these plants that contain toxins, but does that mean snake plants are toxic to dogs?
Yes- unfortunately snake plants are toxic to dogs. They contain a naturally occurring substance called saponins, which is toxic to your pets if ingested. Deaths from snake plant poisoning are uncommon; however, if your dog does ingest parts of the snake plant, they will feel discomfort and have an irritated stomach.
In this article you can expect to learn:
- what snake plant poisoning symptoms to look for in your dog,
- what treatments to apply when your dog is exhibiting symptoms, and
- how to prevent future snake plant poisonings in your home.
But before we jump into the details of snake plant poisoning, let’s take this opportunity to understand why snake plants are poisonous to our beloved pets.
Are Snake Plants Toxic to Dogs: The Facts
As we have already established, snake plants contain a toxin that can affect your dog called saponins. Let’s take a quick look at what exactly this substance is, and why indoor plants, like snake plants, develop these toxins.
What are saponins, and why do they affect dogs?
Saponins are chemicals produced by the snake plant for self-defense purposes. Snake plants, and many other indoor plants, use toxins as a way to deter animals from eating their fruit and leaves. In fact, saponins also help snake plants defend against some common microbes and fungal diseases.
Snake plants carry saponins throughout the entire plant, including foliage and roots. But the highest concentration of saponins is in the skin of the leaves. Actually, saponins help the snake plant develop the waxy coating on their vertical elongated leaves.
If a dog swallows any part of a snake plant, the saponins will begin irritating the stomach lining and gastrointestinal tract. Unfortunately, this will create a lot of discomfort for your four-legged friend, and they will begin to exhibit symptoms (more on symptoms in the next section).
Moreover, the sap of the snake plant is also known to cause, skin irritation, swelling and dermatitis. This usually means when the sap touches any exposed parts of the skin, it will swell and become itchy.
Symptoms of Snake Plant Poisoning in Dogs
Let’s now turn our attention to the symptoms to look out for if you suspect your dog has eaten parts of a snake plant (also known as mother-in-law’s tongue or Sansevieria Trifasciata).
The extent of the symptoms exhibited by your canine friend will depend on how much they have ingested. Nevertheless, it is important to be aware of the possible signs of snake plant poisoning:
- Nausea or Vomiting – as we mentioned above, the main effect saponins have when ingested is inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. This can lead to vomiting and feeling queasy, nausea and upset stomach.
- Behavioral Changes – unfortunately your dog cannot tell you how it is feeling, so you may have to rely on picking up on any type of unusual behavior. Such as excessive drooling or licking. They can also lose their appetite, which is understandable since their digestive system is extremely irritated.
- Diarrhea – Snake plant poisoning can cause your cat to experience diarrhea as their body tries to process and eliminate the toxic substances in its system.
- Swollen Mouth and Immediate Surrounding Area – the sap of snake plants is also a well-known irritant to any exposed skin it comes into contact with. This means any parts of the mouth, nose and tongue that touched the sap are likely going to be swollen, red and suffer oral irritation.
If your dog is experiencing difficulty breathing, we suggest taking your beloved pet to a vet or medical professional immediately. It is likely the sap has caused their throat to swell, and it is restricting their breathing.
How to Treat Your Dog for Snake Plant Poisoning
If you notice any of the above symptoms in your pet, we recommend treating them with the following process.
- Immediately remove the snake plant and any fallen bits that may be on the ground to prevent any further poisoning to your dog and other pets (like cats).
- Give your dog a warm soapy bath to remove sap that may still be in your dog’s fur, paws or on their skin.
- Wash your dog’s mouth with water (not soapy!). We want to limit the ingestion of any more toxins entering their system.
- Monitor your dog closely for the next 24-48 hours. They will likely want to rest while their body tries to process and eliminate the saponin toxins from their system. Make sure they have access to plenty of water, especially if they are vomiting or experiencing diarrhea.
What to Expect from the Recovery of Snake Plant Poisoning?
You can expect your dog to fully recover from snake plant poisoning within 24-48 hours.
In general, it is unusual for snake plant poisoning to be fatal. The amount of the plant ingested is usually limited to small quantities because the toxins will immediately react with your dog’s mouth, causing extreme discomfort. This will cause them to stop eating the plant, and will not consume a lethal amount of the toxin.
The only potential threat is if your dog has an extreme allergic reaction to the toxins, causing severe symptoms and difficulty in breathing. In cases like these, seek urgent medical advice.
Keeping Your Dog Away From Snake Plants
To prevent any future snake plant poisonings from occurring in the future, we recommend taking a proactive approach and implement some preventative strategies from allowing your dog to interact with your plant.
Here are a few ideas we use when we have pets and an indoor plant collection in the same household.
Keep Snake Plants and Dogs Apart
This is probably the easiest and most effective strategy to use when you have both dogs and toxic houseplants under the same roof.
Because dogs are less likely to jump around the house and climb over furniture, it is much simpler to move your plants to hard-to-reach places. Places like on top of cabinets, or in areas of the house that are ‘out-of-bounds’, will limit their interaction with snake plants and reduce the likelihood of accidents from occurring.
Use Pungent Odors
You can try using smell as a form of prevention for keeping your dogs away from your snake plants.
Some homeowners have used cotton buds soaked in clove oil to deter dogs from sniffing around their plants. They simply bury the cotton buds under the dirt, and the smell keeps the dogs’ curiosity at bay.
Train Your Dog
The great thing about man’s best friend is that they are extremely open to being trained.
By positively reinforcing their behavior, dogs can quickly learn what to do, or in this case, what NOT TO DO.
The best approach is to start training early so that your dog learns what acceptable behavior is from the get go. As they get older, your pet will eventually learn where their boundaries lie, and snake plant poisoning is less likely to occur.
Is Snake Plant Toxic to Dogs – FAQ
What Parts of The Mother In Law’s Tongue Are Poisonous or Toxic?
All parts of the snake plant contain the toxic substance called saponin. However, there is a high concentration of saponin in the skin of the leaves.
Will My Dog Recover from Snake Plant Poisoning
Yes – you can expect your dog to recover from snake plant poisoning within 24-48 hours of showing the first symptoms of poisoning.
If you observe your pet struggling to breathe, then seek medical advice immediately.
Can Snake Plants Kill My Dog?
It is unlikely that your dog will die from eating snake plant leaves. The sap from the snake plant will immediately irritate your dog’s mouth, causing them to stop eating the plant. Therefore, it is unlikely they will consume enough to be fatal.
Are Snake Plants Safe for Dogs?
No, snake plants are toxic plants that contain a toxin called saponins in the leaves that can poison your dog when ingested. To be safe, we recommend keeping dogs and snake plants away from each other to prevent any potential disasters or nasty accidents from occurring.