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The snake plant, also known scientifically as Sansevieria trifasciata or politically nicknamed the “mother-in-law’s tongue,” is a favorite plant for many gardeners. For starters, it’s an easy plant to care for; it has impeccable air-purifying qualities and is a striking aesthetic statement with its tall, sword-like leaves and unique variegation.
But one primary concern for all gardeners is whether the houseplant they love is toxic to humans or pets.
The snake plant contains a toxic chemical called saponin, which is harmful when consumed by your cat or dog. Once eaten, the animal will start showing specific symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and excessive drooling, among others.
Do you have cats and dogs and that beautiful snake plant you can’t let go home? If yes, then this article is for you. We understand how much you worry about your snake plant harming your cat or dog if they consume it. Are snake plants toxic to cats and dogs? The simple answer to this question is “Yes.”
If your cat or dog eats the plant, don’t get alarmed. Read on to understand how negligible these toxic levels can be, which part of the snake plant is poisonous, what the symptoms of this toxicity are, and most importantly, how to protect your pets from harm. We will also cover the medical interventions to take if your cat or dog ingests this plant, including the First Aid measures.
Let’s get started, shall we?
How Toxic is the Snake Plant? And why?
We have indeed grasped that snake plants have some toxic capacities, and we need to understand how harmful they can be and what causes them to be dangerous. For humans, snakes plants exhibit deficient poisonous levels. But for our pets, like dogs and cats, snake plants have considerable toxicity levels.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) confirms that snake plants can be toxic to cats and dogs.
The plant contains a chemical called saponin that results in undesirable reactions in pets when consumed. Fortunately, these toxicity levels can be mild to moderate for your pets, and there are very minimal chances that eating any part of the plant can be fatal.
Another saving grace that snake plants have for dogs and cats is their bitter taste, reducing their overall palatability. So, when your cat or dog tries to eat the plant, they will be discouraged from consuming a lot of it because of this bitter taste. It is safe to assume that your pet cannot eat enough amount of the snake plant to warrant it to experience extreme harm.
Saponin, which makes snake plants toxic, is beneficial for them. Snake plants produce saponin as a fungicide, insecticide, and protective measure against other microbes. This chemical is the reason for the bitter taste. The next question is which part of the snake plant is toxic.
Saponin is found on the entire snake plant. Therefore, all aspects of snake plants are poisonous when consumed.
You will find saponin on the plant’s easily accessible leaves and stems. And when the plant blooms and produces fragrant flowers that resemble lilies and later on the orange-red berries/fruits, you need to be aware that both the flowers and fruits are toxic. The juice from the plant’s leaves can result in skin irritation. But, for cats and dogs naturally covered in fur, the risk of skin contact is minimal.
Also, read What house plants are toxic to your cat?
The Symptoms to Look Out For
In as much as the snake plant has an unpleasant bitter taste, some curious cats and dogs will still go ahead and consume a substantial amount of it. Considering the plant is indigestible, it will result in specific common symptoms often linked to gastrointestinal tract issues.
Here are symptoms to look out for to know if your cat or dog has ingested a snake plant:
- The loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Signs of depression
- Abdominal pains and discomfort
- Excessive drooling
- Lethargy: Your cat or dog can be extremely fatigued, drowsy and sleep for longer hours than normal
- Swelling in organs such as the tongue, lips, and throat.
As hinted earlier, the consumption of saponin is behind these symptoms because of its toxic nature. The above signs can be expected when cats and dogs chew or swallow any part of the snake plant. Allergic reactions may arise, which brings about the swelling of tissues in the oral organs and the gut. These allergic reactions are potentially life-threatening. The gastronomical responses are responsible for nausea, vomiting, abdominal pains, and diarrhea.
If you notice any of the above symptoms in your cat or dog, you must act immediately. Taking your cat or dog to a veterinarian is a wise step. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to elevating the chances of your dog recovering quickly and preventing fatality if many toxins are consumed.
Additionally, if you saw your cat or dog consuming a snake plant and no symptoms have been manifested yet, it is still advisable that you see a vet. Also, the above symptoms can still be a sign of any other kind of poisoning that warrants medical attention.
Medical Interventions In the case of Snake Plant Poisoning
The first medical response to take if your cat or dog consumes a snake plant is offering First Aid.
Here is what to do:
- To prevent further harm when you are sure your dog or cat has eaten a snake plant stop it from continuing to ingest the plant. You can do this by removing any bits or pieces in the mouth including those stuck in between the teeth.
- The next thing you can do is get in touch with the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) at ASPCA immediately or your vet or any other human poison control center.
- Be ready to write down all the instructions you receive from APCC or your vet and carry them out immediately to save your pet. Also, have the information they might ask for including what time your dog or cat consumed the snake plant, the species of the snake plant and quantity consumed. You can carry this information and the plant sample in case the first aid doesn’t work, and you need to rush your beloved pet to a nearby vet.
- Don’t try to force your pet to vomit unless instructed to do so by the vet. Remember, traditional remedies can be dangerous. To be on the safe side, just take your pet to a vet for professional medical attention.
The Medical Attention
When you take your cat or dog to a vet, you are guaranteed that you will receive the medical attention needed. Have the cat’s or dog’s medical history at hand so the vet can assess if there are any impending risks. Also, mention all the houseplants you have so the vet can be sure of the source of toxins.
The first thing your vet will do is carry out some physical examinations to identify the harm caused. The vet can also check your cat’s or dog’s temperature, pressure, and other vitals. Blood and urine tests will also help ascertain your pet’s health condition. To provide treatment, your vet may opt to address each symptom individually.
Your vet can use water to flush out any remains of the snake plant in the mouth. And if your dog hasn’t vomited, your vet can induce vomiting to remove the toxins in the stomach. To further protect the dog’s or cat’s stomach lining, your vet can use Kapectolin, and Sucralfate will be used to create that protective barrier to reduce gastrointestinal reactions.
An antihistamine is prescribed to remedy the allergic reactions that result in swelling of the mouth, lips, and gut. And if your dog has lost fluids because of diarrhea and vomiting, your vet will use an IV drip to administer electrolytes.
The Recovery Stage
Snake plant poisoning has minimal chances of resulting in death. After your pet has received the appropriate medical attention, full recovery can happen in a matter of days. Proper care is recommended as you wait for your cat or dog to recover. Administer the medicine prescribed to help your pet heal faster. Also, be keen on the diet. If your dog or cat needs a special diet, provide it at the recommended time.
How to Protect Your Cats and Dogs from Consuming Snake Plants
We have seen that snake plants can be toxic to your cats and dogs. But considering how your snake plants, pets, and dogs are dear to you, we understand that you are not ready to do away with any! What’s left therefore is to find a way to protect your cats and dogs from consuming the toxic snake plants. Here is how you can do this effectively:
- Fence off your snake plant: If you notice your cats and dogs are attracted by the beauty of your snake plant and can’t stay away from its location, try fencing this area. You can use these plant and tree protectors from Amazon.
- Train your pets to stay away from the snake plant: You can do this with commands and instructions. Alternatively, you can use a dog and cat repellent spray. When sprayed on the snake plant, your cats and dogs will recognize it as a forbidden zone. Also, dogs and cats hate the smell of citrus. Using lemon juice or orange zest on the snake plant’s pot will keep them away.
- Place your snake plant away from reach: You can place your snake plant in a high shelf that your cats and dogs can’t reach, in a closed room or outside. You simply need to limit the access your cats and dogs have to your snake plant.
Also read, What house plants are toxic to your dogs?
FAQ’s about Snake plants
Snake plants are a beautiful and beneficial addition to your home. But when this advantage compromises the safety of your pets, you probably want to think twice about it. As much as snake plants are toxic to cats and dogs, we are happy to have shared ways to protect them with you. Moreover, it is comforting to learn the medical interventions that can save your cats and dogs and that the toxicity is rarely fatal.
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