Are Succulents Harmful for Pets?

Fortunately, the majority of succulents are not harmful to pets if they are accidentally ingested. Most side-effects are limited to mild skin irritations, upset stomachs, or lethargy. And even those plants that are toxic enough to be fatal usually require a significant amount to be ingested.

Unfortunately, there are a few species of succulent that are toxic enough to kill smaller house pets like dogs, cats, ferrets, birds, etc. Another consideration is outdoor succulents, and the fact that most larger animals that might be considered “pets,” such as horses, goats, cows, and such, are likely to eat significant amounts, if not the entire plant!

Keep reading to learn which species of succulent can be poisonous for people or their pets.

Aloe Vera

Toxic for:

Cats 

Dogs 

Horses

Most people are familiar with the dwarf-varieties of aloe vera, which is easily recognizable by its thick, gnarled spikes for leaves. They may not be aware there are species of aloe that grow to thirty-foot tall! Aloe is one of the best-known home remedies for treating all burns, and its medicinal properties have been translated to occupy a major portion of the homeopathic and self-care industry.

Although people see aloe as a medicine, and rightfully so, like any true medicine its power can be dangerous as well. In this case, there are chemicals within the aloe plant that can be highly toxic to cats and dogs, if they eat enough. Fortunately, the bitterness of a raw aloe plant tends to discourage this – pets do some strange, foolish things sometimes, however. Horses are a greater concern, and although they prefer sweeter things, they may turn to aloe if seeking roughage.

Aloe’s main toxic chemical of concern is saponin, which can cause major problems in the musculo-nervous systems. 

The known side effects of cats, dogs, or horses ingesting aloe vera include: 

Abdominal pain 

Diarrhea 

Lethargy

Nausea

Skin irritation

Tremors

Vomiting


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Crassula Arborescens (Silver Jade)

Toxic for:

Dogs 

Cats

Crassula Arborescens (also known as Silver Jade, Chinese Jade, and Money Plant) is originally native to South Africa. The plant is easily recognized by its ‘silver dollar’ leaves, which are roundish with a silvery-green color, and can sometimes feature red edges around the leaf’s border. It is currently unknown which of the plant’s chemicals is toxic.

Known symptoms include: 

Nausea 

Vomiting


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Crassula Ovata (Jade Plant)

Toxic for:

Dogs

Cats

Crassula is a large genus of succulent plants, with the ovata species being native to South Africa and Mozambique. Also known as the Money tree, Lucky plant, or Friendship tree, Jade plants are among the most popular succulents in circulation.

They have thick, fleshy, leaves that will grow in shiny and smooth pairs. They have yet to discover what makes these plants toxic.

Common symptoms include: 

Vomiting

Depression

Incoordination

Lethargy


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Euphorbia Milii (Crown of Thorns)

Euphorbia Milii

Toxic for:

Dogs

Humans

Originally from Madagascar, the Crown of Thorns has adapted remarkably well to growing indoors. Even then they can grow up to 2 feet tall and will bloom vibrant red, pink or white flowers. The name references the sharp, thorny tubercules that can reach up to ½” in length. Some have suggested that this is the plant used in the biblical account of Jesus’ crucifixion, also lending to the history of its unique name.

The natural defenses of the plant reach beyond the thorns, as they are quite bitter. This makes accidental poisonings quite rare indeed. The plant’s milky-white sap contains the highest toxicity of any other part, although skin contact with any of the plant can be irritating.  

Therefore, always take adequate safety precautions whenever handling these succulent plants. Treat them as toxic, and especially avoid getting any of the sap from broken stems or leaves on you.

Symptoms when ingested include: 

Nausea 

Vomiting 

Diarrhea 

Symptoms from skin contact include:

Mild skin irritation

Dermatitis 

Dogs can experience blistering and swelling around eyes and mouth area.


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Euphorbia Tirucalli (Firestick, Pencil Tree Plant, Pencil Cactus)

Euphorbia Tirucalli

Toxic for:

Dogs

Cats

Horses

Euphorbia is mostly native to Africa and Madagascarand tends to have small, slender leaves and cylindrical branches.

The color can range from hues of green to brilliant orange-red, and will intensify in brilliance during the colder months. The sap is the main irritant from the plant.

Side-effect symptoms include: 

Mild irritation to mouth and stomach, 

Vomiting (symptoms are often mild, and not too severe)


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Kalanchoes

Kalanchoes are immensely popular houseplants that thrive in shady environments, are hardy, and easy to grow. The Kalanchoe genus includes hundreds of species of flowering plants that have been cultivated in many a garden across the world. They produce showy flowers making them popular ornamental plants.

Kalanchoes are well-known to be toxic to dogs, cats, and other wildlife as well. The plants contain bufadienolides cardiac glycosides, which can cause abnormal heart rhythms, irregular heartbeats, weakness and fatigue.

Some of the more popular Kalanchoe houseplants that are known to be toxic to pets:

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Kalanchoe Daigremontiana (Mother of Thousands)

Toxic for:

Cats 

Dogs 

Cows 

Birds

This succulent is native to Madagascar and is also called Alligator Plant or Mexican Hat Plant. Mother of Thousands are distinctive-looking plants that feature large green leaves with baby plantlets forming along the edges. These plantlets are known for growing anywhere they land, and their rapid rate of growth can make them somewhat invasive.

As such, Mother of Thousands plants are considered an invasive weed in many parts of the world. Once established and matured, they are an incredibly hardy succulent that thrives in warm areas. 

The plant’s toxic chemical is a steroid known as daigremontianin.

Common symptoms include: 

Vomiting 

Diarrhea 

Weakness 

and more rarely: 

Abnormal heart rate 

Tremors 

Seizures 

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Kalanchoe Delagoensis (Mother of Millions, Devil’s Backbone, Chandelier Plant)

Kalanchoe Delagoensis

Toxic for:

Dogs

Cats

Grazing animals

This succulent is aptly named, as it has a reputation for readily rooting in anywhere it lands. Small plantlets grow from the ends of the plant that are capable of growing vigorously, anywhere they land. Additionally, seeds from the Mothers of Millions plant can stay viable for years, long after the plants have been pulled out.

This species is also remarkably drought-tolerant, and adapts easily to different regions of the world. This willingness to grow, of course, leads to the invasive qualities that have seen it being regarded as a weed in most of those locations. The toxic chemicals found in this plant are bufadienolide cardiac glycosides, which can be fatal to animals when accidentally ingested in large enough amounts. 

Clinical symptoms include: 

Gastrointestinal irritation or upset stomach

Vomiting 

Diarrhea 

Abnormal heart rhythm 

This plant can be fatal when ingested in large amounts!


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Kalanchoe Tomentosa (Panda Plant)

Toxic for:

Dogs

Cats

All parts of Panda plants are toxic, if ingested. They are perennial shrubs with furry leaves, and their leaves are grayish green in color. Leaves grow a white hair and some will display brown spots on margins and tips. They are a beautiful and hardy succulent that is very easy to care for, which has made them one of the most popular varieties available.

Common symptoms include: 

Vomiting 

Diarrhea 

Lethargy 

This plant can be fatal when ingested in large amounts!


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Sansevieria Trifasciata (Snake Plant, Mother-In-Law’s Tongue)

Sansevieria Trifasciata

Toxic for:

Cats

Dogs

The Sansevieria Trifasciata is more commonly known as the “Snake Plant” or “Mother-in-Law’s Tongue,” and are originally native to West Africa. They have long, winding leaves that grow pointing upwards. The leaves are mostly greenish in color, although some varieties can have yellow edges.

These plants tolerate neglect especially well, and their accommodating nature makes them perfect for someone’s “first plant”. Snake plants have been shown to help purify the air  in your home or office, adding to the benefit they provide. The toxic chemical compound in snake plants is saponin; a chemical found in several other species of plant as well.

Symptoms include: 

Nausea 

Vomiting 

Diarrhea


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Senecio Rowleyanus (String of Pearls, String of Peas Plant)

Toxic for:

Dogs

Cats

Other house pets

Indigenous to South Africa, this trailing plant has become popular for its convenience and versatility. The plants’ stems can grow to be over 3ft (90cm) long, and are most often left hanging or trailing from a suspended plant. The trailing stems grow small, round, pea-like green leaves that line its length.

The beauty of these plants is only enhanced by their unusual appearance. They bloom white, fuzzy flowers that give off a sweet scent of cinnamon & vanilla. String of Pearls are not very tolerant of direct sunlight or whether below frosting. This plant’s sap can cause dermatitis or skin irritation in both humans and pets.

Symptoms include: 

Vomiting 

Diarrhea 

Drooling 

Lethargy 


are succulents harmful to pets

The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) provides a comprehensive list of toxic and nontoxic plants for cats, dogs, and other house pets.If you suspect a possible poisoning, contact your local veterinarian immediately and/or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.