Snake plants affect most living things that are monogastric (any animal with a gut). This common houseplant snake plant is poisonous to pets (cats and dogs) and humans alike.
Snake plants contain the toxic compound Saponins which when swallowed and digested. Sansevieria can cause gastrointestinal irritation. This leads to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. It can also cause numbness of the tongue and swelling of the esophagus (if you are allergic).
Mother-in-law’s tongue has liquid inside that affect the skin of living things. For people with sensitive skin, it can cause dermatitis. Sensitive animals can also suffer from eczema if their skin is exposed to the plant’s juice’s.
However, toxicity is all a matter of dosage. Yes, snake plants are poisonous to pets but only when a sufficient amount is consumed.
That being said, if you do not eat a lot of snake plants (hopefully you’re not eating any), the poison will only have a mildly toxic effect on your body.
Why is Snake Plant Toxic?
Snake plants are poisonous because they contain a substantial amount of toxins known as Saponins. Saponins acts as a natural insecticides and fungicides for the plant.
Saponins can be found in all kinds of plants. They are most commonly found in legumes like chickpeas and beans. In small amounts, this substance can be beneficial for your gut and serve as an antioxidant.
In large doses, saponins can have adverse effects on living organisms. Large amounts of the toxin will cause leaky gut and other gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea or vomiting. This is especially true for small animals and humans.
In the future, make sure that the plants you are consuming do not contain a harmful amount of saponins.
Are Snake Plants Toxic to Cats?
If you are wondering are snake plants toxic to cats? Yes, Sansevieria Trifasciata is poisonous to felines. In fact, it appears on the list of toxic plants for animals made by the ASPCA.
This plant has a bitter taste and is followed by a burning sensation in the mouth. Most animals avoid eating the plant, but cats are curious and may try to take a nibble.
In this case, curiosity can kill the cat.
Signs and Symptoms of snake plant poisoning in cats are:
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, mouth and throat
Depending on how much they eat, your cat will suffer mild to serious symptoms.
If you own a snake plant and notice your cat has any of the above symptoms, contact your nearest vet immediately. Don’t worry, most cats make a full recovery within a day or two.
Are Sansevieria Plants Safe for Dogs?
No, snake plants are not safe for dogs. They are mildly toxic to dogs and, depending on how small your dog is, can cost you an expensive trip to the vet.
Luckily, most cases of snake plant poisoning aren’t fatal.
Signs and Symptoms of snake plant poisoning in dogs are:
- Loss of appetite
- Swelling of the lips, tongue, mouth and throat
- Excessive drooling
Although sansevieria plant poisoning isn’t always fatal to dogs, it can be quite a traumatic experience for them. Make sure your snake plants are well out of reach of your furry friends.
Diagnosing Snake Plant Poisoning
You or your pet might start feeling nauseous or the onset of diarrhea, but how do you know the culprit? There are usually signs that point towards snake plant poisoning.
This simple two-step process can be followed for humans or animals that are suspected to be poisoned.
1. Check Dental Cavities
Start by examining the inside of the mouth. There might be bits of plant matter stuck between the teeth or lodged into the gums.
Have a closer look at the plant material. Sometimes it’s quite obvious what the plant is, and you will be able to identify it immediately.
If the plant material is too small and chewed up to be identified, follow step two.
2. Have a Look at The Suspect Plant’s Leaves
Once you have determined that it was plant poisoning, inspect the suspected plant’s leaves.
If there are visible bite marks in any of the leaves, then it is highly probable that you’re dealing with snake plant poisoning. It is important to determine what is causing the bite marks on your plant first. As a rule of thumb, you are looking for large parts of the plants that have been chewed off.
Some common signs that an animal or human is eating your plant:
- The leaves are nibbled to the stem.
- The stems of the plant have been cut or chewed.
- Plants have been eaten to the soil.
How Do You Treat Snake Plant Poisoning?
As of today, there is no known cure for poisoning caused by snake plants. The best course of action would be to treat the symptoms as they arise.
Depending on the severity of the symptoms, no action would be needed or a trip to the hospital may be required. There are a couple of things you could try for your pets who have eaten from the snake plants.
Eliminate Any Plant Materials
There could be pieces of sansevieria plant stuck in your pet’s teeth or gums. This will keep causing painful symptoms like swelling of the mouth to occur.
Remove any plant pieces still stuck in your animal’s mouth by flushing out the oral cavity with water or other safe fluids.
Treat the Symptoms
More severe symptoms like diarrhea and nausea can be treated with more invasive methods. Inducing vomiting or pumping the stomach of the affected animal are two such methods.
Dehydration can occur from excessive diarrhea or vomiting. This can be treated by administering intravenous fluids. There are also medications that exist to soothe the stomach of the affected animal. Antihistamines are also great for reducing swelling and opening airways.
Provide Emotional Support
As human beings, we can empathise with our pets. You understand that this may be a stressful time for them, so you want to do everything possible to make them feel more comfortable.
Being nearby, making a comfy bed for them and speaking kind words are all ways to keep your pet’s spirits high. This will motivate them to battle the symptoms of snake plant poisoning.
Can You Prevent Sansevieria Plant Poisoning?
Yes, you can. There are multiple ways in which you can prevent the toxins from snake plants from affecting your pets or yourself.
Give Your Plant Away
The simplest method is to get rid of your mother-in-law’s tongue. This is not recommended, because the plant is good for purifying air and has a range of other health benefits.
Try all the other methods first – only get rid of your plant as a last resort.
Move Your Plant Out of Reach
It might change the feng shui of your house but move your snake plant somewhere your pets can’t reach it. For dogs, this is very simple but for cats it’s a whole different story.
Most cats can climb onto any surface in your home. This makes it tricky to move your plant somewhere your cat can’t get to it. The simplest solution for cats is to put the plant outside and keep your cats safe indoors.
Check for Damages to Your Plant
Your snake plant could be going through some trying times. Beware of damages to your plant because they can cause leaves to fall off. This makes it incredibly difficult to keep away from your pets.
Check your plants regularly for splitting, dead, or loose leaves that look like they may fall off. You should also clean around your snake plant frequently.
Snake Plants – Pet Friend or Foe?
It is clear that snake plants can cause adverse effects for your pets, your loved ones and yourself.
Protect your loved ones from the harmful side effects of this plant. Educate friends and family and make sure that they know not to eat it’s leaves or touch its raw juices.
Make sure that your pets cannot reach your snake plants – especially your furry feline friends. Above all, have fun being a responsible plant parent.