If you have plants and pets in your house, you’ve probably already faced the problem of keeping them apart. Unfortunately, many houseplants are toxic to cats, dogs, rabbits, and guinea pigs. Even if your fluffy isn’t interested in chewing on fleshy leaves, it can dig in soil or accidentally ingest poisonous pollen.
As plants contain different toxic substances, symptoms of plant poisoning may vary from slight gastrointestinal problems to seizures. However, the most common signs include drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. If your pet shows similar symptoms, make sure to identify the name or take a photo of the possibly eaten plant and call a vet. Avoid inducing vomiting in your pet yourself.
In addition, gnawed foliage and messy soil don’t enhance the general appearance of a plant. Physical damage weakens the plant’s defense mechanisms, making it more susceptible to unfavorable conditions and disease pathogens. Therefore, it’s better to protect your plants and four-legged friends from each other.
Here’s how you can do this:
Keep the plants out of reach of your paws
If all your shelves and wardrobes are already filled with pots or lack light, you can try implementing a creative design solution by buying a tall stand or hanging your containers. Mind you, stands are ineffective against big and energetic animals who can overturn them easily. Moreover, cats, who love to climb and jump, conquer these constructions easily. However, if you want to protect your indoor jungle from guinea pigs, rabbits, or small dogs, tall stands and hanging planters are perfect to display green pets, creating beautiful and safe plant compositions.
Another method is placing the flower pots in a room your fluffies are not allowed into. In this case, keep the door closed, especially when you are not at home.
Train your pets to beware of plants
Like with any training, you need to use both positive and negative reinforcement. If you have already practiced disapproval words, use them when you notice your pet gnawing leaves and digging into soil.
Alternatively, spraying your pet with water is an absolutely safe yet unpleasant method of discouraging animals from harming your plants. On the other hand, make sure to pet your four-legged friend or give it treats when it’s avoiding the forbidden area. Mind you, the most important thing about training is consistency—show your approval or disapproval every time your pet interacts with the houseplants.
Use pet detergents
You can buy special sprays at floral or pet stores. Their smell is usually unpleasant for certain animals, making them stay away from the treated plants. Make sure to follow the instructions on the packaging while applying them. A natural alternative to these sprays is a solution of lemon juice.
If you want to stop your fluffies from digging in soil, cover it with large pebbles or pine cones. This is especially beneficial for moisture-loving plants, as you not only protect them from pets but also create mulch to help the growing medium retain water. Even plants—for example, Coleus canina and the rosemary—can be “pet detergents”. Add them to your collection to ward off the invasion of your cats and dogs.
Grow pet-friendly plants
If you have a cat and have never grown cat grass, you should definitely give it a try—even if you have a brown thumb. It’s useful both for the mental and physical health of your pet and can distract your fluffy from chewing on the leaves of your Dracaena. Other safe and even beneficial distracting options are the catnip and catmint.
If your pets prefer digging in soil rather than eating leaves, opt for species that need little or no soil
Some succulents and cacti thrive in rocky substrates, and the lucky bamboo can be grown in water. However, make sure to change it promptly. The airplant is also a great option, as it doesn’t need soil and is pet-safe.
Try exhausting your pets with exercise
Pets can do a lot of harm when they have plenty of excess energy. Make sure to plan dog walks so that your beloved fluffy can spend its energy on running and playing instead of overturning your flower pots. For other animals, use special toys to let them burn excess energy.
Avoid dreadfully toxic plants
Unfortunately, there are plants that you’d better not keep in households with pets. Avoid bringing Kalanchoe, Cyclamen, lilies, tulips, the autumn crocus, and sago palm into your home. In the case of the lily, even the water you use for cut flowers is very poisonous.
If you’ve tried everything and are ready to put up with gnawed leaves, choose one of these pet-safe plants.
This easy epiphyte features showy, bright-colored, and long-lasting flowers. One of the most popular houseplants, it’s perfect for a novice gardener with fluffies.
The succulent belongs to the genus Echeveria, also often called a “stone rose”. Small and low-demanding, it not only enlivens your room but also purifies the air.
Another air-purifying and easy-to-care-for option, the spider plant is perfect for pet owners who are more into bushy foliage plants. It features both long, variegated leaves and small white flowers.
If you are an experienced plant lover or just want a challenge, try your hand at growing the China rose. You can be sure—the gorgeous appearance of its blooms will justify the effort you put into creating the optimal growing conditions.
If you are fond of indoor jungles, direct your attention to this low-maintenance vine. Apart from waxy, multi-colored leaves, it features abundant, small, pink or white flowers.
Mind you, any plant may cause vomiting, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal problems if your fluffies eat too much of it, so make sure to watch them even if you don’t have toxic species at home. We hope that your plants and pets will be happy together!