Many plants in indoor gardens can be poisonous or toxic to dogs and cats. ZZ plants (Zamioculcas zamiifolia) are a popular houseplant known for being low maintenance and helping purify the air indoors.
However, are ZZ plants pet-friendly? Pet owners must know that the ZZ plant is mildly toxic and can cause irritation or stomach upset if ingested by dogs, cats, or people. All parts of the plant contain calcium oxalate crystals called raphides, including the stems, leaves, and roots.
These needle-like crystals of this toxic plant can cause drooling, vomiting, pain, and swelling of the mouth if chewed or eaten. So, ZZ plant exposure is dangerous to dogs and cats who may nibble on or ingest the leaves, inquisitive pets, or children who want to sample a new plant in the home. However, the rumor that ZZ plants cause cancer isn’t accurate.
In our guide, you can learn more about is the ZZ plant toxic to dogs, and also, is ZZ plant poisonous to cats.
By the end, you’ll better understand plants that are poisonous for pets and children and what effect such plants can have to humans and pets. (Read Can You Grow Asparagus In A Pot)
What Makes the ZZ Plant Toxic?
Why are zamioculcas toxic to cats and other pets? Like many common houseplants, the ZZ plant contains raphides. These tiny needle-shaped calcium oxalate crystals are found in the plant’s leaves, stems, and roots.
When ingested, these crystals can cause oral irritation, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing, and stomach upset.
The ZZ plant, scientifically known as Zamioculcas zamiifolia, is not severely toxic to dogs and cats. But it can cause irritation, pain, and discomfort when nibbled or ingested. All parts of the ZZ plant should be considered toxic.
Is the ZZ Plant Poisonous to Dogs?
The ZZ plant is mildly toxic to dogs. If your dog ingests part of the plant, it may cause skin irritation in or around the mouth, minor nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Larger ingestions could potentially lead to oral swelling, difficulty breathing or swallowing, kidney stones, and abdominal pain.
Contact your veterinarian immediately if your dog ate or chewed on any part of a ZZ plant. Depending on how much your dog ingested, the vet may recommend making them vomit or giving medication to relieve gastrointestinal upset.
Dogs that come in contact with the ZZ plant’s sap may develop skin irritation. Wash the affected area on your dog’s skin gently with soap and water. Avoid getting sap from the ZZ plant on your skin when handling the plant, and wash your hands afterward.
Why Are ZZ Plants Toxic?
Why is zamioculcas toxic to cats and dogs? ZZ plants contain raphides – tiny needle-like crystals made of insoluble calcium oxalate. When chewed or ingested, these crystals penetrate the mouth, throat, and stomach soft tissues. This leads to swelling, drooling, pain, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Raphides are designed to deter herbivores from eating the plant in the wild. But indoor ZZ plants can still harm curious pets that ingest leaves or stems. The toxin is present in all parts of the ZZ plant, from the roots to the leaves. So, ingesting any part of the plant could lead to a reaction. (Read What Happens If My Dog Eats A Frog)
Signs of ZZ Plant Poisoning in Pets
Here are some common symptoms to look out for if you suspect your dog or cat ingested part of a ZZ plant:
- Excessive drooling
- Difficulty swallowing
- Swollen or irritated mouth and lips
- Upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea
- Loss of appetite
- Painful urination from kidney irritation
If any of these symptoms develop suddenly, examine your home for access to ZZ plants or other poisonous houseplants. Contact your vet right away if you believe your pet ingested something toxic. Quick treatment can help prevent serious complications.
Is the ZZ Plant Toxic to Humans?
Answering: is a ZZ plant toxic to cats and dogs? You’ll find the ZZ plant is also mildly toxic to humans if ingested. The raphides can cause similar mouth irritation, stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea in people. Keep ZZ plants out of reach of small children who may try to put leaves or stems in their mouths.
Wear gloves when propagating the ZZ plant or pruning to prevent skin irritation from the sap. And be sure to wash your hands afterward, even if you wore gloves. Avoid rubbing your eyes after working with the plant.
How to Keep Your Pets Safe from ZZ Plants
Now you know the answer to the question: are ZZ plants safe for cats? Here are some tips to keep your furry friends safe if you want to add a ZZ plant to your home:
- Place it somewhere out of reach of pets, like on a high shelf or plant stand. Keep it away from beds, sofas, and other furniture your pet likes to jump on.
- Consider keeping it in a room pets can’t access, like a spare bedroom or office. Close the door to keep curious pets out.
- Put up physical barriers like enclosed terrariums or plant hangers to prevent access.
- Train pets like dogs to avoid the plant using correction words like “leave it!”
- Consider pet-safe alternatives like spider plants, Boston ferns, or African violets instead.
- Remove parts of the ZZ plant that fall on the floor before pets can eat them.
- Call your vet immediately if ingested, and get your pet to drink lots of water.
Are There Pet-Safe ZZ Plant Alternatives?
Pet-friendly plants include many options if you don’t want the risk of caring for a ZZ plant safely. Consider these nontoxic or poisonous alternatives:
- Sansevieria (Snake Plant): Hardy like the ZZ plant with strappy upright leaves. Tolerates low light.
- Pothos: Trailing vine with heart-shaped leaves. Great in hanging baskets.
- Philodendrons: Many varieties to choose from. All tolerate low-light conditions.
- Peperomia: Interesting succulent-like foliage. Does well in containers.
- Ferns: Soft, lush fronds. Ideal for shady spots. Great air purifiers.
Check any new plant doesn’t pose a risk of toxicity before bringing it home. And keep it out of reach of pets until you’re sure it’s 100% pet-safe. (Read Can Goats Eat Potatoes)
Conclusion: How Do You Care for a ZZ Plant Safely?
In summary, a ZZ indoor plant contains toxins in the sap of the plant that can irritate the mouth, throat, and stomach if ingested by your cat or, dog, or people. All parts of ZZ plants are poisonous, including the leaves, stems, and roots, and contain calcium oxalate crystals known as raphides.
To keep your furry friends safe. Place ZZ plants out of reach, opt for pet-friendly alternatives, and call your vet immediately if you believe your pet ate any part of a ZZ plant.
With prompt treatment, most pets recover fully. But ZZ plant ingestion should never be taken lightly since the plant may cause significant discomfort, oral, and stomach irritation, and even potential kidney problems in rare cases. Awareness of ZZ plant toxicity allows pet owners to take precautions and prevent ZZ plant poisoning in dogs and cats.
FAQs: What Part of The Plant Is Toxic To Dogs?
How much of a ZZ plant is toxic to both dogs and cats?
Is ZZ plant toxic to cats? All parts of these house plants contain toxins and are considered toxic for dogs and people, including the stems, leaves, and roots. Even small ingestions or coming into contact with the ZZ plant can cause irritation and stomach upset. Call your vet if you suspect your dog ate any part of a ZZ plant.
Can ZZ plants kill dogs?
It’s unlikely that a ZZ plant will kill dogs unless a very large amount of the poisonous plant was eaten. But the ZZ plant can make dogs ill. Severe ingestions could potentially damage the kidneys, but this is very rare. Monitor your dog closely and call your vet with any concerns, yet encourage your pet to stay away.
What if my dog only chewed on a ZZ plant?
Even chewing on or mouthing a ZZ plant can cause irritation, drooling, and swelling. The raphides penetrate the tissues instantly on contact. So call your vet if you see your dog chewed on or damaged a ZZ plant in any way.
Are ZZ plant leaves toxic?
The leaves of your ZZ plant contain calcium oxalate crystals that are toxic if ingested, and once the plant is ingested, they can irritate the mouth and stomach lining. Ensure your pets don’t have access to fallen leaves from the plant.
Is the ZZ plant safe for cats? It’s best to consider non-toxic alternatives if you have pets that like to chew on houseplants. However, ZZ plants can grow anywhere, so they could be in your yard, and your dog may accidentally come into contact with them. (Read Can Goats Eat Chocolate)
Can ZZ plants hurt cats?
ZZ plants contain toxins, which may cause symptoms like vomiting, drooling, and stomach upset in cats or if the dog has eaten some. Keep pets away from ZZ plants, and call your vet right away if you think your cat ate part of the plant.