Posted on: July 5, 2016 at 10:05 am
Last updated: September 13, 2017 at 3:32 pm

Adding plants to your house comes with a variety of health benefits. Not only do they provide you with oxygen and can purify the air around you, but several studies have shown that they can actually aid in calming as well as improving one’s memory and concentration.

Since many of us are not extensively familiar with the best plants to use, we usually opt for the most common household plants that require the least amount of maintenance. However, by not doing your research you could be putting a plant in your house that is poisonous to cats, dogs and even small children.

Dieffenbachia Plant Toxicity


The dieffenbachia plant, otherwise known as Dumb Cane or the Leopard Lily, are one of the most common indoor plants that are used in both homes and workplaces. It is easily identifiable by its long, broad leaves that have dark green ridges but are yellow towards the center.

Although this is one of the most indoor common plants, very few people are familiar with how toxic it can be to pets and young children. Many people are ignorant to the fact that many indoor plants in general can be poisonous, with almost 30,000 calls a year to the Poison Control Center being due to plant exposure.

The dieffenbachia plant contains two toxic components: oxalic acid, an insoluble crystal of calcium that penetrates flesh and causes injury, and asparagine, a protein that is found in the plant.

Household pets such as cats and dogs commonly eat or chew on the plant by accident, and this has resulted in severe and sometimes deadly emergencies. Symptoms of dieffenbachia toxicity in a pet include pawing at the face, drooling, foaming and vomiting. More severe symptoms include swelling of the lips and tongue as well as difficulty breathing.

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Although the most common cases of dieffenbachia poisoning occur in animals, as they are the most likely to eat the plant by accident, there have been many cases in young children as well. Symptoms of the poisoning in humans is similar but slightly different than in animals. These include:

  • Burning in the mouth or throat
  • Damage to the cornea of the eye
  • Diarrhea
  • Eye pain
  • Hoarse voice
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Swelling and blistering of the mouth or tongue

What to do in Case of Poisoning

If you suspect that your child or pet is suffering from dieffenbachia poisoning, then there are several steps that you must take. The first one is home care. This includes immediately wiping out the mouth with a cold, wet cloth, and then rinsing the persons eyes out (and skin if they made contact with the plant) with water. It is then advised to give the person suffering from poisoning milk to drink while you call poison control for more guidance.


If you feel that a trip to the emergency room is necessary, take down the following information: the persons’s age, weight and any health conditions they may have, parts of the plant that were eaten, how much of it was eaten and how long ago it happened. If it’s possible take the plant with you to the emergency room.

Once at the emergency room, the health care provider will take all of the person’s vital signs and may administer breathing support or intravenous fluids, depending on the person’s condition.

If contact between the individual’s mouth and the plant was minimal, then there is a good chance that the symptoms will go away within a few days. However, people who have had more extensive contact may require a longer recovery time.

Remember, do not eat, touch or purchase any plant that you are unfamiliar with, and do extensive research before buying a plant for your house, especially if you have pets or small children.

For information on more common household products that you didn’t know could harm your health, click here.




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