Alocasia, also known as Elephant ears, are houseplants with shiny broad leaves that plant owners love due to the low maintenance and gorgeous visual appeal. However, many plant owners wonder whether these plants are harmful to their pets.
Does munching on these leaves lead to serious health issues for pets? I will explain it in this article.
Alocasia is a highly toxic species for most pets. Ingesting this plant can lead to health hazards like nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. It can start with infection in the mouth, lips, throat and lead to breathing trouble, renal failure, and even demise if ingested in larger quantities.
The plant contains tiny calcium oxalate crystals, which is the reason behind the plant’s toxicity.
The sap of the Alocasia is dangerous for pets and humans, and small pets are likely to be more affected than bigger pets because of their sensitivity. In case of any emergency, you should contact your vet immediately.
You will find out more details about the toxicity of Alocasia and its effects on your pets in this article. So keep reading.
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Is Alocasia plant pet friendly?
Alocasia is extremely dangerous to pets and can cause many problems in them.
If your cats and dogs touch the plant in any way, it can cause various skin infections and rashes.
If the pets ingest any part of the plant, they can experience vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, swelling, oral irritation, and gastrointestinal tract.
In some more serious cases, it has also led to severe airway swelling, leading to difficulty in breathing, renal failure, and sometimes even death.
Munching a large quantity can also lead to coma and death.
Do not ignore if you see your pets have come into contact with the Alocasia and rush to the vet immediately.
How poisonous is Alocasia?
The toxic element in Alocasia plants is called the calcium oxalate crystals, which are needle-like crystals produced by the plant that acts as a barrier to protect it from herbivores.
Chewing or biting any part of the plant leads to these needle-like crystals penetrating the oral mucosa and pharynx, causing tissue penetration leading to irritation, severe pain, and burnings in the mouth or the GI tract.
Consuming the sap or the juice of the Alocasia can lead to serious problems, the symptoms of which can occur immediately or after 1-2 hours of ingestion and can stay up to 2-3 weeks after ingestion.
Due to the plant tasting bitter, large consumption of the plant is uncommon.
In case of massive consumption, cardiac abnormalities, dilated pupils, coma, and death have also been reported.
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Signs of Alocasia poisoning on your pets
Alocasia causes various problems in pets as well as humans. Let us understand this better.
The severity of the infection depends on the quantity of the ingestion.
- Munching to Alocasia can lead to a burning sensation in the mouth, lips, throat, and tongue.
- Excessive drooling, choking, and swelling around the throat.
- Inability or difficulty in swelling.
- Ingestion of larger quantity can lead to more complicated issues like severe diarrhea, extreme breathing difficulty, gasping for breath.
- Ingestion of massive quantities can lead to convulsions, renal failure, coma, and even death.
- Even though it is possible to recover from calcium oxalate poisoning, permanent liver and kidney damage can occur in many cases.
What if my dog eats Alocasia?
Alocasias can be extremely harmful to your dogs.
If they consume any parts of the plant, it can lead to multiple problems.
However, the chances of consumption of large quantities are lesser, but smaller quantities too can lead to multiple issues like:
- Muscle convulsions
- Liver failure
- Redness of skin
- Inflammation of mouth, lips, tongue
- Abdominal pain
It would be best to take your dog to the veterinary doctor if you think or see him eating or munching any parts of the Alocasia plant to follow necessary medications without further hassle.
The dog’s treatment will depend on the severity of the situation and the amount of consumption.
If the amount is less and caught in the early stage, the treatment will be easier.
It is best to keep your Alocasia out of the reach of the dogs to avoid any unwanted situations.
What if my cat eats Alocasia?
The hazard level depends on the amount of ingestion.
Cats like to nibble on the plants to get extra nutrients and fiber.
But the sap of the plant irritates the cats.
For this reason, it is crucial to keep the cats away from these plants.
The insoluble calcium oxalates present in the plant can lead to kidney failures in cats.
Some of the signs of Alocasia poisoning the cats are:
- Pawing at the mouth
- Decreased appetite
- Oral irritation
- Edema (swelling of the mouth, tongue, lips)
- Difficulty in breathing
- Intense burning
The treatment depends upon the severity of the ingestion.
In mild ingestion, you remove the plant tissue from the mouth and make the cat drink milk or tuna juice.
If any signs of breathing disorders or swelling persist, you should rush to the vet.
It may include removal of the plant’s part from the mouth, drugs to reduce vomiting, fluid therapy, and managing the airway obstruction (in severe cases).
Kittens are more at risk than mature cats due to their curious nature.
It is best to keep the plant where the cat will not reach.
Is Alocasia toxic to birds?
Many birds naturally eat plants as part of their diet.
They chew on and consume parts of the plant out of curiosity.
Therefore, plant owners need to know which plants are toxic to their feather friends.
Alocasia, similar to other pets, is dangerous for the birds too.
Birds ingesting any parts of these plants fall sick, and mass consumption can even kill them by poisoning.
Fortunately, there is a little chance of consuming in massive quantity as birds mostly shred and play with plants, so the poisoning is generally mild.
Mouth infections and itching are mostly the signs of mild infections.
For the owners of the Alocasia plant, it is recommended to keep your plant at a place where birds cannot feed on them.
Some of the symptoms that your bird has come into contact with Alocasia are:
- Mouth infection
Make sure to keep the Alocasia out of reach of birds to keep them safe from the toxicity of the Alocasia.
What should you do if your pet ingests Alocasia?
Prevention is always better than cure, so keeping your Alocasia away from your cats, dogs or birds, and even children is advisable.
Pets quite like children are always curious to go around anything new to them, so they try to lick and smell them.
As plant owners, it is your responsibility to protect your pet from your toxic plants.
Luckily the taste of the Alocasia plant is not sweet that your pets would keep on nibbling them, which makes consumption in high quantity quite a rare phenomenon.
If you witness any of your pets ingesting them or have contacted them, you must do the following:
- First, observe your pets for any of the signs of poisoning.
- If any leaf or part of the plant is left in its mouth, clean it off immediately.
- Give them something liquid like milk to drink.
- If you see any complications like swollen mouth, breathing disorder, or diarrhea, consult the vet immediately and give the necessary medications.
- The vet will examine the pet thoroughly, remove any part of the left in the pets’ mouth, and wash and clean them.
- The vet will then perform tests to determine the functioning of the pet’s body and determine whether the poison has affected the pet in any way.
- Depending on your pet’s condition, tests like blood tests and stool tests will be conducted.
- Make sure you state everything clearly to the vet without hiding any parts of the accident.
- Fortunately, if the poisoning symptoms are mild, like itching, mouth infection, diarrhea, it can be cured easily in a matter of days with the help of proper medications.
- However, if the consumption has been in higher quantity which is rare, it might lead to further complicating situations.
- In that case, the vet will tell you what to do next and how the treatment will go on.
How to keep the Alocasia away from your pets?
It is best not to keep this plant in homes with pets because a little accident can lead to a huge loss.
However, if you are determined to have this glossy beauty at your home despite having pets, it is highly recommended to keep an alert eye on it all the time.
Your pets will not know which plant is poisonous and which is not.
They are bound to get interested in playing and touching and nibbling on this plant, but as the owner, it is your responsibility to maintain the boundaries to avoid every kind of trouble.
You can keep your Alocasia at a place where the pets do not go much.
For example, if you keep the Alocasia on a window or balcony and keep the doors shut, your pets cannot mostly reach them.
Or you can keep them at a place where you can constantly supervise them.
How to keep dogs away from Alocasia?
Dogs are one pet you can train most effectively, and they can be obedient to your orders.
If you restrict them from going to one area of the house, the chances are that they will follow your orders.
However, dogs tend to be quite naughty and playful at times.
So, here are a few tips you must remember:
- Remember when you keep your Alocasia on the floor, and any dead or wilted leaves that fall off your dog might nibble them, so throw away those leaves immediately.
- If you keep the plant on a stand, remember your dog can topple them anytime.
- If you keep your plant on a table with a tablecloth underneath, your dog can pull the cloth and take down the plant.
- If you have dogs, you should keep your Alocasia in a balcony or porch or terrace or window where the door is shut, and the dogs cannot reach the plant.
- When you are not home, confine the dog in a certain area so that it cannot go near the Alocasia.
- Try keeping the plant on sturdy shelves higher up the ground to put them out of the dog’s reach.
How to keep cats away from Alocasia?
Cats are one tricky pet type to train, and they can be extremely naughty.
They do not listen to their owner’s orders, and it can be dangerous if you have a cat at home and still want to keep this plant.
But, here are some tips to keep your cats away from your Alocasia.
- Cats have a strong dislike for citrus. You can put lemon or orange peels around your plant or on the soil to keep the cat away from the Alocasia.
- Though difficult, try training your cats to stay away from the Alocasia and not go in that area.
- Keep a spray bottle filled with water handy. Whenever the cat goes near the Alocasia, you spray it away.
- Some strong scented sprays in the market could repel the cats.
- Provide your cats with toys they can play with. This will keep it away from the Alocasia.
- Confine the plant to a particular area in the house where your cats are not allowed.
How to keep birds away from Alocasia?
If you have pets in the house, you can keep them away from your Alocasia in the following ways:
Since birds are afraid of snakes, you can hang some rubber snakes around your Alocasia to keep them away.
You can try putting an aluminum screening to keep the birds away from the Alocasia.
There are scarecrows available in the market designed to keep birds away. You can get one and keep it near your Alocasia.
Birds don’t like balloons, so you can get some helium-filled balloons and tie them around the Alocasia.
This is a costly option but works great. You can get ultrasonic trainers that emit sounds that birds don’t enjoy. Keeping this near your Alocasia will keep the birds away from it.
From the above discussion, you get a clear picture of how Alocasia can be highly toxic to your pets and what are steps you can follow to keep your pets away from the plant.
However, if you want to keep this plant in your home along with pets, you must keep an eye on the pets to prevent any mishap.