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Is Rubber Plant Toxic To Pets? (Cats, Dogs & More)

Many houseplant enthusiasts own Rubber plants. However, if you have pets in your house, it is essential to understand whether Rubber plants are safe around your pets. 

Rubber plants are toxic to pets. Some varieties of Rubber plants are more toxic than others. Pets like puppies, kittens, cats, rabbits, and guinea pigs are more susceptible to poisoning as they are always curious about their surroundings. 

If you wonder whether Rubber plants can be toxic for pets, you’ve reached the right place. This article will cover everything related to Rubber plant toxicity, signs of poisoning, how to diagnose and treat it, and how to prevent your pets from staying away from Rubber plants. 

pets and rubber plants

I have done my best to address all of your concerns in the article below. However, if you still have any questions or are confused about the article, you can receive personalized one-on-one assistance from me by leaving a comment below. I will respond to your comment within a few hours.


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Toxic components and toxicity classifications in the Rubber plant 

Rubber plants can harm pets, with certain varieties posing more risk. 

Several animals, like dogs, cats, small animals like rabbits, guinea pigs, and even birds, can suffer from poisoning. 

They all have the habit of chewing on plants or anything curious around them. 

But why are they toxic? Let’s talk about the toxic components of Rubber plants.

Rubber plants release toxins to protect themselves from being eaten. 

The white sap, also called latex, is found in all the Ficus species, including the Rubber plants. 

This latex contains a few toxic components. 

The Rubber plants (fig tree) have Ficin, a proteolytic enzyme with anthelmintic properties

These help break down the protein and easily digest it. 

This protease is what causes excessive drooling or salivation in pets. 

Besides that, the sap can stick to the mouth of the pets and turn into Rubber when the sap dries out. 

It can further create oral discomfort. 

Ficin can also cause other adverse effects like oral and skin irritation. 

Psoralen and Ficusin are also found in Ficus Elastica. 

These compounds target the DNA in the cells and cause adverse reactions if ingested. 

Rubber plant toxicity is classified as Toxicity Class 4. 

Though it is the least dangerous class of the four categories regarding human safety, the effects on pets are pretty adverse. 

Pets’ noses and eyes are not well-protected, leading to easy irritation when they come into contact with the latex. 

Ingesting causes vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. 

Toxic Rubber plant varieties 

Knowing what kind of Rubber plant variety you have is very important. 

Most varieties are toxic to the pets. 

If you have both pets and Rubber plants, you should be careful so the pets don’t go near them. 

  • Here are a few toxic Ficus varieties that can be dangerous for your pets’ well-being: 
  • Decora 
  • Burgundy 
  • Doescheri 
  • Black Prince 
  • Abidjan 
  • Melany 
  • Red Ruby 
  • Robusta
  • Tricolor 
  • Japanese Rubber plant, or Crassula arborescens 
  • Ficus Benjamina, or Indian Rubber plant. 

Exception 

Only one Rubber plant, the American Rubber plant, or Peperomia obtusifolia, is derived from the Peperomia genus. 

These are small-sized baby Rubber plants. 

Belonging to the Peperomia genus, these Rubber plants are not toxic for cats, dogs, or other pets. 

However, pets will have a mild reaction. For example, if your dog ingests the leaves, the maximum effect will be stomach discomfort. 

Symptoms of pet poisoning by Rubber plants  

toxicity in your cat

There are several Rubber plant varieties. 

The poisoning symptoms might vary based on your variety. 

Once I got a message from one of my readers that her pet was showing some poisoning and whether it could be due to Rubber plant consumption, as her plant’s leaves were torn apart. 

My reader showed me a photo of her Burgundy variety where some leaves were torn apart. 

I have the same along with Decora and Tricolor. 

Even my pet has consumed it once. 

So, I thought of researching it. 

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get any unique signs for specific varieties. 

I got a list of general symptoms that will appear if you consume any variety. 

Based on my experience, research, and discussion with my fellow readers, here are some common symptoms of Rubber plant poisoning: 

  • Drooling 
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach or intestinal discomfort 
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Swelling in the mouth  
  • Depression 
  • Dermal and oral irritation 
  • Rashes 
  • Moist eyes 
  • Lack of coordination 

Diagnostic procedures for Rubber plant poisoning 

If you see these signs in your pets, check if your Rubber plant is in good condition. 

If it seems to be torn apart or chewed, you know the reason behind the signs. 

Take your pet immediately to the vet. 

The sooner you take it, the better. 

The vet will physically examine the pet to understand the abnormalities in their vitals. 

The vet will also need to examine the pet’s vomit to determine what the pet is suffering from. 

Besides that, The vet will conduct a full CBC (Complete Blood Count) test and chemistry panel to assess the situation. 

A PCV (Packed Cell Volume) test will be done to check the pet’s hydration status. 

The vet may recommend assessing the kidney function of your pet. 

The toxicity effect depends entirely on how much your pet has ingested. 

If needed, take your plant or a photo to show the vet how much and which part of the Rubber plant your pet has ingested. 

Rubber plant poisoning treatment and prognosis in pets 

sick cat examination

Once everything is diagnosed, it is time for treatment. 

You must take your pet to the vet as soon as possible. 

Sometimes, you can even contact the local poison control center. 

Before taking to the vet, here are a few things you can do: 

  • Clean the bits of the Rubber plant from the mouth, claws, fur, and every other part of the pet’s body. 
  • Remove the entire Rubber plant away from your pet, or take your pet to a safe place away from the plant. 
  • Take a sample or photo of the plant and vomit of your pet to show it to the vet. It will help the vet to identify the actual cause of poisoning. 

Once you take your pet to the vet, here are some treatments they will do: 

  • The vet will perform a mouthwash if the pet faces oral pain, salivation, or foaming. 
  • The vet will flush off the area with help for skin or eye reaction. The vet will also apply a topical medication to prevent further injury in the same area. 
  • For eye irritation, the vet will give some creams to apply. 
  • If the issue is gastrointestinal, the vet will try to induce vomiting in the pet. 
  • If excessive time has passed after ingestion, the vet will administer activated charcoal. It will bind and absorb the remaining toxins that are not yet absorbed. 
  • Additional medications will be given to protect the intestinal lining. 
  • The pet will be given fluid therapy to flush the toxin out of the body faster and to fix and prevent dehydration

Pet Safety and Preventive Measures 

toxicity in your dog

Keeping your pets away from the Rubber plant is the only way to prevent poisoning. 

It’s best not to grow any toxic Rubber plants in the house. 

Many people ask me what to do if pets and toxic houseplants are in the same house, whether they have to get rid of the plant or if there are any precautions to follow. 

If you don’t have a Rubber plant yet, don’t buy it if you have pets. 

But if you already have it, there is no need to throw it or get rid of it. 

As a plant lover, I would never want to eliminate my favorite plants. 

Several effective preventive measures are available that will encourage keeping pets and your favorite plants in the same house. 

Keep an emergency veterinary service number in case you need it when pets have mistakenly ingested it. 

Now let’s have a look at the preventive measures:

Keep the plants out of reach

Keep it out of the pets’ reach for their safety and your plants. 

Follow this for every plant, even the non-toxic ones. 

They might not affect your pets, but nipping will destroy the plant. 

Try to keep the plants at a location where they will look nice, but the pets won’t be able to reach them. 

Citrus deterrent 

Citrus is used as a repellent for cats and dogs for their unpleasant smile. 

Spray citrus around to keep pets away from your Rubber plant. 

Be careful while spraying the citrus as they are very acidic. 

Spraying some in the plant and affecting its health. 

Also, ensure not to spray the pets. It can irritate the pet’s nose. 

You can even keep some lemon pieces around the plant pot. The smell is bothering pets like cats and dogs. 

Spray bottle deterrent 

You can spray water on your pets whenever they try to reach your Rubber plants. 

Unfortunately, you can do this only when you see them trying to reach the plant. 

You need permanent solutions so they don’t reach or nip your plant when you are not around. 

Add coffee grounds 

Coffee ground for indoor plants

You can add some used coffee grounds around the plant base. 

It works in multiple ways. 

Coffee grounds can work as mulch, and their smell will keep the pets away from the Rubber plant. 

The smell is too strong for the pets to bear. 

Therefore, they won’t reach your plant. 

Cayenne pepper 

You can spray some cayenne pepper around the Rubber plant pot. 

The smell will keep the pets away as it irritates the noses of the animals. So, they will stay away from the plant. 

Create rocky surface 

Making a rocky surface around the Rubber plants can keep pets like cats, dogs, and small animals away from the plant. 

Cats, dogs, and small animals love to walk over smooth surfaces. 

With rocky surfaces, they won’t visit your plant again. 

Keep some herb plants close to the Rubber plant

Keep some herb plants close to the Rubber plants. 

It can be beneficial because the smell from herb plants like lavender, rosemary, mint, or oregano will not only keep pets away but also nuisance bugs like aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, and scales. 

Grow cat grass or catnip for cats

If you have cats, buy catnips or cat grass and keep them near your cats. 

They will feed on them whenever they find the urge to nip or chew something. They are entirely safe and sound for the cats’ health. 

Trim your plants 

Rubber Plant placement

Keep your Rubber plants well-trimmed and compact. 

It will allow you to keep the pot somewhere up where pets cannot spot them. 

Since they will be challenging to reach, the pets might not feel enticed by them. 

Buy pet toys 

Buy some exciting pet toys to keep your pets distracted from your plant. 

They will forget being curious about your plant, concentrate on the toys, and play with them. 

Make a separate plant room

Some plant and pet owners have separate rooms for their plants. 

If you have pets and plants in the same house, make a separate room for your houseplants. 

Keep the doors closed, and your pets won’t be able to enter the room or nip on the plants. 

Train your pets 

Train your pets not to go close to the houseplants. 

It might be difficult, especially for small animals and babies like puppies and kittens. But do give it a try. 

Keep artificial plants around your pets

Keep artificial plants in areas where you suspect the pets visit too much. 

Please keep the original plants in areas where they usually don’t visit. 

The pets will stay busy with the artificial plants, and you can keep them distracted and have peace of mind. 

Special arrangements for birds 

Some of the above methods may not be ideal for birds since they can fly and reach any house corner. 

Here are some steps you can take specifically for pet birds: 

  • Use ultrasonic trainers to keep the birds away from your plant. These trainers emit a sound that is unpleasant for them. 
  • Use aluminum screening by bending it in a U-shape. 
  • Tie a few helium-filled balloons around the Rubber plant and it will do the needful. 
  • Rubber snakes and decorative scarecrows can also be helpful. 

Final thoughts

Rubber plants are quite toxic for most pets, especially dogs, cats, small animals, and birds. Rubber plants’ latex, or the white sap, contains Ficin, which causes excessive drooling in pets. Psoralen and Ficusin compounds target the DNA in the cells and affect the pets’ well-being. 

Common signs of poisoning are drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, depression, skin irritation, and lethargy.

Spraying some citrus, coffee grounds, and cayenne pepper, keeping herbs close to the Rubber plant, making rocky surfaces, buying pet toys, and training the pets are practical ways to stop your pets from the Rubber plant. 

If your pets have ingested by mistake, take them immediately to the vet. The vet will examine, perform a few tests, and provide some medications.

Follow the instructions properly and follow up with a regular checkup for a faster recovery. 

Are there any non-toxic Rubber plant varieties?

The American Rubber plant is the only less toxic variety to the pet. The least they do is stomach upset, which is easy to treat. Except for these, you won’t see any other signs like the other varieties. 

How can I keep Rubber plants somewhere up? 

It might be challenging to keep them somewhere up since they can grow quite tall. You can prune them regularly to maintain a compact shape. Otherwise, keep it somewhere where your pets don’t visit.

Reference: Rubber plant Wikipedia 


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