Is Dracaena Toxic to Cats & Dogs?

  • Time to read: 5 min.

You’re thinking about getting a Dracaena plant, but you’re wondering if it might cause your pet harm. Some houseplants are toxic to cats and dogs, and some are harmless. It can be a bit bewildering to figure out which is which. 

Dracaena is toxic to both cats and dogs. When ingested, Dracaena can cause unpleasant symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, and loss of appetite. This is due to the Saponins within the plant.

This article will go over everything you need to know about the toxicity of Dracaena, the recovery process for cats and dogs poisoned by Dracaena, and how to keep your pets away from the plant. 

Dracaena with Cat | Photo 181327525 © Meredith Heil | Dreamstime.com

Dracaena Toxicity

Dracaena, also called corn plant, cornstalk plant, dragon tree, and ribbon plant, is toxic to cats and dogs. Though it is usually not fatal, symptoms can be very unpleasant and should never be left untreated.

Most cats and dogs will avoid Dracaena because of its bitter, unappetizing flavor. They are also unlikely to eat a large amount of it. However, severe poisoning is still entirely possible, especially if your pet is small.

Symptoms of Dracaena Poisoning Include:

  • Diarrhea 
  • Vomiting
  • Vomiting with blood
  • Incoordination
  • Dilated pupils (In Cats)
  • Increased heart rate
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive Drooling
  • Depression
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weakness

The adverse effects of Dracaena are due to the saponins in the plant, which are part of a group of biologically active toxic compounds all geared towards protecting the plant from insects, pests, and fungal and bacterial pathogens. It is found in all parts of the Dracaena plant: the roots, trunk, stems, and leaves. 

Saponin is toxic for a reason, as its toxicity plays a major function in the defense of the plant. It is present in many plant species, both cultivated and wild.

The toxicity of these saponins towards cats and dogs is not fully understood. However, according to the NCBI, the reaction is believed to be because of its irritating effects on the digestive tract’s gastrointestinal mucosa.

Recovery from Dracaena Poisoning

The recovery from Dracaena poisoning is usually very swift and leaves no lasting symptoms. Your pet should recover within 12-24 hours. 

Once you notice symptoms of Dracaena poisoning, you should call the Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 or contact your veterinarian at once. Professionals can ensure your pet makes a quick and safe recovery. They will be able to stop the reaction and monitor and control the symptoms to ensure they don’t become too severe. 

Dehydration is a serious complication of Dracaena poisoning. Dehydration can cause severe problems with the kidneys and internal organs of your pet if left untreated.

If your cat or dog is vomiting, don’t give them any water. Instead, remove their access to food and water and get help. According to Veterinary Partners, food and water intake while your pet is still vomiting can increase dehydration and cause further vomiting.

Your vet can ensure your pet has replenished all their fluids and electrolytes after symptoms of Dracaena poisoning.

How To Keep Pets Away From Dracaena 

It is possible for pets and Dracaena to co-exist together. Here are some tips to keep your pets away from your Dracaena, so there’s no chance of them ingesting it:

  • Keep it in a separate room. Put your Dracaena in a separate plant room that your pets are not allowed to go into. 
  • Keep it out of reach. Put your Dracaena on a high shelf or in a hanging basket out of your pet’s reach. 
  • Use lemon and orange peels. Put lemon and orange peels in the soil around your Dracaena. Both dogs and cats hate the smell of citrus and will stay away from a plant that smells like it. Make sure to replace the peels from time to time to keep the scent fresh.
  • Use a pet deterrent. A motion-activated harmless and odorless spray can be used to surprise your pet and warn them to stay away from your Dracaena. You can purchase one easily online. You can also try a pet repellent spray, such as this Nature’s Miracle Pet Block Repellent Spray from Amazon.com, and spritz it in the area around your Dracaena. It is highly affordable and natural, so it won’t cause any harm to your pet.
  • Use a spray bottle. Spray some water close to where your pet is standing when they go near the Dracaena to startle them. Do not spray them directly. The mist and noise should be enough to warn them away and keep them from returning. 
  • For cats, buy cat grass. You can use cat grass, which your car will be much more interested in, to deter them away from your Dracaena. Catit Senses 2.0 Cat Grass Planter from Amazon.com is a great choice. It is an easy, healthy alternative to a houseplant. However, this will probably not be enough to keep them away from it entirely, so you should try this option in combination with another.
  • Reward good behavior. After warning your pet away from your Dracaena, reward them with a treat. For cats, you can redirect them to some cat grass.
  • Do not use cayenne, crushed red pepper, or black pepper. If these items get on your pet’s paws, they may make their way to your pet’s eyes and cause damage. Prevent that possibility by not using these items.

You may want to avoid bringing Dracaena in your home with pets altogether or replacing it with a cat or dog-friendly plant instead. 

The ASPCA has a comprehensive list of toxic and non-toxic houseplants for pets, which you can look at here. Or you can check out this handy list of pet-friendly plants: Liven Up Your Space With These Pet-Friendly Plants! to make a safe choice.

Conclusion

Consumption of the Dracaena plant causes an adverse reaction in both cats and dogs that, while not usually fatal, can be severe and may lead to dehydration. 

If your cat or dog has ingested Dracaena and is exhibiting poisoning symptoms, notify your veterinarian or call animal poison control immediately so they can get treatment.

Though Dracaena is toxic, co-existence between the plant and your pets is possible. There are different methods of keeping your pet away from your Dracaena that can be highly effective. However, you might think it safer to get some pet-friendly plants instead. 

Sources

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