Are Monstera Plants Toxic To Cats And Dogs?

If you have pets and plants in your home, it’s always worth checking to see if your plants are potentially harmful to your pets, even if your pets seem to ignore them.

Your pet may have walked past a plant a hundred times and paid it no attention at all, but that’s not to say it definitely won’t forever.

Monsteras are one of the most widely-grown genera of plants, featuring the likes of the Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera deliciosa), and the Swiss Cheese Vine (Monstera adansonii), among others.

So it’s worth knowing or not if your pets and plants are safe! 

Let’s take a look.

Are Monstera Plants Dangerous To Pets?

Aroid plants, including Monstera species, are listed as toxic by the ASPCA. As trustworthy information goes, this is a pretty reliable source for all your plant-toxicity-related needs, but it’s not the only thing to consider.

It’s always worth knowing why a plant is considered toxic. Houseplants considered ‘safe’ can be nibbled and gnawed on by the most determined of pets without an emergency vet visit needed, but you probably will see some side effects.

So why are Monstera plants toxic?

Like all aroids, they contain calcium oxalate crystals. These naturally occur within the plant and form part of the plant’s natural defenses. 

After all, they don’t want to be eaten, and this has helped the species survive where others have not. But what do these crystals do?

What You Should Know About Calcium Oxalate Crystals

Calcium oxalate crystals are extremely irritating. Not in the way that they will jangle your nerves, but in the sense that they cause swelling to mucous membranes such as the mouth, tongue, throat, and eyes.

These crystals cause a horrible burning sensation, and can also cause lots of drooling, throwing up, and problems swallowing.

Part of what irritates is the shape of the crystals. Though they are minuscule, these crystals are very sharp, and can be barbed! These crystals can irritate humans in the same way, so keep this plant well away from children, too.

This defense mechanism that these aroids have is essentially a warning sign, telling the animal to back off and leave it alone. There are other jobs these crystals can do, but this is the part you need to know right now.

The more your pet ingests, the worse it gets.

This can be very dangerous, as you might imagine, but it depends on how much plant material your pet has ingested. 

It certainly won’t be a fun time, and it’s unlikely that your pet will do it again (but there is no guarantee, so don’t get complacent), but life-threatening reactions are rare.

Should You Keep Your Monsteras Away From Pets?

Calcium oxalate crystals are not the most toxic thing your pets can ingest when it comes to houseplants, and this is good news.

That doesn’t mean that your pets are entirely safe when it comes to Monstera plants when these plants are within reach, and there’s no guarantee that because your pet has ignored your plant so far, it doesn’t mean that they won’t suddenly take a bite out of it.

It’s worth keeping your Monsteras well away from pets. Preferably in pet-free rooms where your pets can’t even think about making your plants their latest snack.

This not only helps keep your pets safe but your plants safe, too! After all, there’s no point in growing a fantastic Monstera that gets to a giant size with gorgeously lush leaves, overcoming any pests or disease problems, only to realize at least part of it has been eaten.

What a waste of effort, both your part and your plant’s. Your plant won’t thank your pet for it, either. 

It also means you’ll need to cut the plant back to make the wound clean and prevent any sort of infection or disease.

It would be especially heart-breaking if your Monstera is a variegated variety. Not only are these plants gorgeous, but they are more difficult to care for than solid-green Monstera species.

It can even disrupt the balance in the variegation, which is tricky to get right, to begin with. 

You’ll have to cut the affected part of the plant off (and you might cry if this is a whole stem), to avoid any disease getting into your plant, as the bite your pet will have taken won’t exactly be clean, and it will probably be full of bacteria. Lovely. 

Exactly how you prune your variegated monstera affects the variegation. It’s part of how the variegation stays balanced. 

Normally, you’d cut a leaf back that has too much variegation or too little, forcing the plant to produce what it needs more of.

If your pet takes a bite of the ‘wrong’ leaf, the leaves that follow when you cut that part back may be too variegated, or not enough. 

This can mean that you’ll need to cut the plant back further, to make sure the variegation is as it should be for healthy growth and development.

So yes, it’s worth keeping your Monstera plants out of reach!

What To Do If Your Pet Has Eaten Part Of Your Monstera

Maybe your pet has already taken a bite out of your Monstera. Take a breath, and don’t panic. Here’s what you should do.

Check The Inside Of Your Pet’s Mouth

Your pet won’t like this, and you probably won’t either, but it’s important to check the inside of your pet’s mouth to see if there are any signs of irritation, such as redness or swelling.

Call Your Vet To Be Safe

The next step is to call your vet. Tell them exactly what plant your pet has eaten, how much, and if there are any signs of swelling. 

Your vet will confirm what to do next. If they need to see your pet (and this is up to them), it’s worth taking a sample of the plant with you, so they know what to test for if they need to.

While it’s unlikely that your pet will suffer any lasting damage, it’s important to get them checked over for your peace of mind, as any swelling to the tongue or throat can cause serious problems.

Move Your Monstera Out Of Reach

Once you know your pet is out of the woods, it’s time to move your Monstera somewhere else. It’s unlikely that your pet will have another go at it, but it’s not worth taking the chance.

Final Thoughts

Plant toxicity and pets can be complicated, so it is worth keeping your plants well out of reach of pets, and if you think for a minute your pet has ingested part of a plant considered to be toxic, call your vet.

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