zz plant cats

ZZ Plant Cats and Dogs Toxicity

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The ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamiifolia or Zanzibar Gem) is one of the most interesting and easy to grow houseplants available today. Although this plant has definite environmental health benefits, it also has some mild health risks that you should be aware of. 

Read this article to learn all you need to know about ZZ plant toxicity. 

Are ZZ Plants Toxic to Cats and Dogs?

Unfortunately, the ZZ plant is toxic. The sap of this plant contains calcium oxalate crystals which are highly irritating if ingested. Effectively, this means that all parts of the plant should be considered poisonous and unsafe around small children and pets like cats and dogs. 

The crystals are tiny, but incredibly sharp and will irritate the lips, mouth, throat, and digestive system, potentially causing discomfort, swelling, nausea, and diarrhea. In the worst-case scenario, swelling of the tongue and/or throat could cause life-threatening complications like suffocation. 

Contact with the skin could possibly cause a reaction in sensitive individuals although this is rarely the case. For this reason, wearing gloves is advisable when repotting and working with this plant.

Contact with the eyes should also be avoided as this could potentially result in serious irritation. Make sure you wash your hands after working with these plants and be sure to avoid touching your eyes or mouth while wearing your gloves or until you have washed your hands.   

Symptoms Of ZZ Plant Toxicity

If you suspect that a person or pet has ingested any part of the ZZ plant, you should immediately seek medical advice. Some potential symptoms include:

  • Swelling of the mouth and lips
  • Pain in affected areas
  • Nausea and diarrhea
  • Contact dermatitis

Keeping Your Pets Safe

Unfortunately, the ZZ plant carries the same risk for your pets as it does for humans, so this plant is generally not recommended for pet owners. If you do have pets, make sure you keep your ZZ plants in an area that is inaccessible to them to avoid any possible issues. Here are a few other ways to help keep your pets safe if you have toxic houseplants:

Get Some Chew Toys

Make sure your pets have toys of their own to play with. If your pets have safe toys, they will be far less likely to look for other objects to chew on. 

Position The Plant Where It Is Out Of Reach 

This is far easier with dogs than it is with cat’s unfortunately, but it can be a very simple and effective way of avoiding accidents. While a cat can easily access a plant set on a table or a cabinet, a hanging pot can be a very effective way of keeping both your cats and dogs away from your ZZ plant

Keep The Plant Behind Glass Or Closed Doors

You can keep toxic plants in a specific part of the house like your bedroom for example, where pets can be kept out. It may sound harsh but it is for the benefit of both your pets and your plants. Alternatively, consider setting up a grow room, perhaps complete with grow lights, where you can safely keep a collection of indoor plants.  

Try A Repellent

Spraying the pot, or area around your plant with a substance like citronella oil can be helpful for keeping pets at bay. Of course, you should avoid getting any potentially harmful substances on the plant itself. Be sure to test this out to figure out how effective it is likely to be before putting all your faith in the technique. 


It is unfortunate that the wonderful Zanzibar Gem carries health risks for pets and people. While potentially serious symptoms can occur from accidental ingestion of this plant, It is still considered a safe house plant as long as certain precautions are taken. If you are in any doubt, however, choose a completely non-toxic species for your home instead. 

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