Pothos plants are toxic to dogs because of the plant containing insoluble calcium oxalate crystals in the leaves, stems, and roots. If these crystals get on the skin or are ingested, it can cause irritation of the skin, mouth, lips, tongue, throat, and stomach.
Why Are Pothos Toxic to Dogs?
Pothos, Epipremnum Aureum is a popular houseplant known for its beautiful foliage and easy care. While it’s vining habit looks good in any home, it’s good to know that pothos plants are toxic to dogs. But why are pothos plants poisonous to our furry friends?
The answer lies in the plant’s composition. Pothos plants contain a substance called insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. These crystals can cause mild to severe health problems in dogs when ingested. When a dog chews or bites into a pothos plant, the crystals are released as they live within the plant (in the leaves and stems), which can cause irritation and inflammation in their mouth, throat, and stomach if swallowed.
The toxic effects of pothos can vary depending on the amount ingested, the dog’s size, and overall health. Sometimes, the symptoms can be mild, such as drooling and vomiting. However, in more severe cases, pothos ingestion can cause difficulty breathing, swelling of the mouth and throat, and even death (although unlikely).
It’s important to note that pothos is not only toxic to dogs but also to other pets, including cats and birds as well as humans. Therefore, if you have pets or small children at home, it’s best to keep pothos plants out of reach and ensure they cannot access them in any way.
Are All Pothos Toxic to Dogs?
Pothos plants are an Aroid and come from the Araceae family. Plants from the Araceae family are all toxic to dogs. This includes all of the pothos varieties, including Marble Queen Pothos, Neon Pothos, and the notorious Golden Pothos.
Even a tiny amount ingested of a pothos plant can cause mild to severe symptoms in dogs.
If you’re a pet owner looking to add a pothos plant to your home, keep the plant out of your pet’s reach and watch them closely when they are around the plant.
What Part of Pothos Is Toxic to Dogs?
All parts of the pothos plant, Devil’s Ivy, contain calcium oxalate crystals, including the leaves, stems, and roots. However, some parts of the plant may contain higher levels of these crystal toxins than others.
The most toxic part of the pothos plant is the leaves, which are the part that dogs are going to come into contact with first. When a dog chews or bites into the leaves, the calcium oxalate crystals are released, causing irritation and inflammation in their mouth and throat.
The stems and roots of the pothos plant also contain calcium oxalate crystals, but they are less likely to be ingested by dogs since they are not as easily accessible as the leaves. However, if a dog were to chew on the stems or roots of the plant, they could still be at risk of developing mild toxicity.
It’s important to note that even if a dog doesn’t ingest the plant directly, they can still be exposed to the toxic effects of pothos. This can occur if a leaf breaks and the plant’s sap comes into contact with their skin, eyes, or nose.
Always be mindful of the toxicity of houseplants for your pets, them biting a leaf can happen quick. But many dogs, like my dog, don’t even care / aren’t interested in plants. To prevent your dog from being exposed to the toxic effects of pothos, keep the plant out of reach and ensure that they cannot access it in any way.
Symptoms of Pothos Poisoning
If your dog ingests any part of your pothos plant, they may experience various symptoms that can vary from low severity to highly severe. Here are some of the most common symptoms of pothos toxicity in dogs based on severity level:
Mild Severity –
- Excessive salivation: One of the earliest signs of pothos toxicity in dogs is excessive drooling, caused by mouth and throat irritation and inflammation.
- Pawing at the mouth: Dogs will paw at their mouth if they bite leaves because it will be very uncomfortable as the calcium oxalate crystals have been released in their mouth, and can cause oral irritation in the tongue and lips.
- Vomiting and diarrhea: Ingesting pothos can cause your dog to vomit and/or have diarrhea, which is their body’s way of trying to get rid of the toxic substance. Prolonged diarrhea is not good for your dog, so seek medical attention if they have consumed pothos are having diarrhea.
High Severity –
- Swelling: Pothos toxicity can cause swelling of the mouth, throat, and tongue, which can be painful and make it difficult for your dog to eat or drink.
- Difficulty breathing and difficulty swallowing: If the swelling caused by the calcium oxalate crystals spreads to your dog’s airways, they may have difficulty breathing, alternatively they can have difficulty swallowing from swelling. Seek emergency veterinary care immediately.
- Loss of appetite: Ingesting pothos can also cause your dog to lose their appetite, leading to dehydration and other health problems if left untreated. Seek medical attention right away.
- Lethargy: Your dog may become lethargic or weak if they have ingested pothos as their body tries to cope with the toxic substance.
If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, whether mild or high, seek veterinary care immediately. Pothos being a poisonous plant, can be serious and even life-threatening if left untreated, so act promptly if you suspect your pet has ingested any part of this houseplant.
What to Do If Your Dog Has Eaten Pothos
If you dog has consumed a pothos plant, you need to act quickly as your furry friend is suffering from discomfort and inflammation. You only have one of her/him, so call the vet immediately. It’s always good to know of an emergency vet in your local area because these things can happen at any given time, especially when your vet is closed. Here are the steps you should take if your dog has eaten pothos:
- If there are any visible parts of the plant in their mouth, carefully remove them with your hand. This will help not to cause your dog even more pain. Wash your hands after handling this plant as you removing it from their mouth may cause skin irritation.
- Call your vet immediately and explain the situation. They will recommend bringing your dog in for an examination and treatment. If the vet is closed, call and drive to an emergency vet. The vet will likely rinse your dog’s mouth to remove the calcium oxalate crystals. Then they might perform fluid therapy to help rid of these sharp crystals.
- Observe your dog: Monitor your dog closely for any signs of distress, such as difficulty breathing, vomiting, or swelling of the mouth and throat.
- Provide supportive care: Depending on the severity of your dog’s symptoms and how they are behaving, your vet may recommend supportive treatment, such as administering fluids to prevent dehydration or medication to relieve pain and inflammation.
- Bring a sample of the plant: If possible, bring a sample of the pothos plant with you to the vet’s office. This can help the veterinarian identify the plant and determine the appropriate course of treatment.
- Follow your vet’s instructions: Your veterinarian may recommend that you follow up with additional treatments or monitoring at home. Follow their instructions carefully to ensure that your dog makes a full recovery.
It’s important to remember that pothos toxicity can sometimes be serious and even life-threatening. Other times, you may not need to worry if they’re a big dog and they only consumed a little bit of the plant. But you only have one of your precious little friend, so taking them to the vet to be sure they are okay is always a good idea.
How to Prevent Dogs From Eating Pothos
Just because you have a dog doesn’t mean you can’t own a pothos plant. It really comes down to how your dog behaves. Are they a puppy who likes to get into everything and anything, such as garbage, shoes, etc? If so, you’ll want to keep pothos plants on a high shelf to keep it out of reach for these pups. If they’re a very calm dog, like my dog, you’ll be fine to have pothos plants in your home. Always make sure you are always watching your dogs around your pothos plant and always checking over the plant for bite marks and soil disturbances.