Quick Care Guide: Are Philodendrons Poisonous?

Quick Care Guides | House Plants

The Philodendron is a common houseplant in the UK, and is loved by indoor gardeners for its broad leaves and tropical feel. Despite being so popular you do need to be careful with these plants as they can be toxic to humans and pets. 

 

Are philodendrons toxic to humans? 

Philodendrons produce a toxin called calcium oxalate which is toxic to humans if ingested. Simply touching the leaves is fine if you wash your hands immediately, but if you want to be doubly safe then always wear gloves when handling your Philodendron. You should also make sure that you keep your plant out of reach of children and, if ingested you should seek medical help immediately. 

If you do ingest any parts of a Philodendron plant you may begin to feel irritation in the mouth along with excess drooling and foaming at the mouth. This irritation will spread throughout your digestive system causing discomfort. Philodendron poisoning may also cause kidney stones in very rare circumstances.  

 

Are philodendrons toxic to pets?

Yes, philodendrons are toxic to cats, dogs and other pets. If your pet eats a Philodendron leaf they will begin to show symptoms within a couple of hours. Symptoms include: 

  • Vomiting
  • Excess drooling 
  • Oral irritation 
  • Excess pawing at the mouth
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Loss of appetite

 

If you notice any of these symptoms then take your pet to your vet immediately. 

 

Are outdoor Philodendrons toxic to wildlife? 

Yes, a Philodendron that is grown outdoors can be mildly toxic to smaller wildlife. They won’t cause any problems to bees and other pollinators who are just after the pollen, but can cause issues to hedgehogs, foxes, and other garden wildlife. 

To stop this you can make sure your philodendron is kept out of easy reach of animals, in a raised bed or tall container, you can also choose to put your plant under a mesh or in a hanging basket. In larger gardens you add a scarecrow or moving object like a wind spinner near it.  

 

How poisonous is a Philodendron?

The Philodendron is only a mildly poisonous plant, and won’t kill your pets, however the intensity of the effects will depend on how much of the plant an animal has consumed. Even so, eating any part of the plant can cause a lot of discomfort and distress for your pet that can be painful to see, and can make other conditions worse. 

 

What to do if your pet eats a Philodendron plant? 

As soon as your pet begins to show any symptoms of Philodendron poisoning is to contact your vet. If you leave this too long crystals will begin forming in their urine which can make their condition a lot worse. To give your animal the easiest experience possible there is a few steps you should follow: 

Never try home remedies - You will find potential home remedies for Philodendron poisoning all over the internet, but you should always avoid these as you can end up making the condition worse. 

Contact your vet immediately - The longer you wait to see your vet, the worse the condition may get. If your normal vet is not available then contact your nearest emergency veterinary service. 

Take a sample of the plant  - When you go to see your vet you should take a sample of the leaf or part of the plant your pet has eaten as this may help diagnose and treat the condition.  

 

How should I keep my pets away from my Philodendron?

Just because a Philodendron can be toxic to cats and dogs, doesn’t mean you need to avoid this wonderful plant species. Hundreds of households in the UK keep Philodendrons alongside their pets without issue. All you need to do is follow a few simple steps to enjoy the beauty of this tropical plant safely. 

If your pets can’t reach your Philodendron then there is no way that they can get curious and eat it. The easiest way to do this is to put it in a room that your pet has no access to, but in some cases this may not be possible. The next best option is to put your Philodendron out of reach. This is a method that works well and can be incorporated into your home design by putting trailing varieties on a floating shelf, in a hanging pot or as an ornament on a bookshelf. 

To specifically keep your philodendron away from cats, make sure to surround it with other objects. Cats don’t like crowded clusters and this will make the area around your plant less interesting to them. 

Cats and dogs are curious creatures who will explore anything new in their environment and once they are used to a new philodendron they should begin to ignore it. After that your only worry will be falling leaves. Try to remove any yellowing or dropping leaves before they can fall, but if any do drop before you can do so make sure to pick them up as soon as you see them or ensure that your pets can only access the plant when you are there.

Sign up to our Newsletter