When babyproofing, homeowners typically buy child safety gates and locks to protect their kids. Unfortunately, they often overlook one lurking danger: houseplants. While they look innocent, some of the most common houseplants can be toxic to you, your child, and your pet.

Certain houseplants are poisonous due to toxic chemicals that concentrate in particular parts of the plant, including the bark, leaves, roots, and seeds. These chemicals can cause an adverse reaction in humans and animals. The symptoms can range from mild allergic reactions (such as skin rashes) to cases of nausea, vomiting, and, in some cases, death. While some plants are dangerous just by touch, most are only toxic if a large quantity is ingested—pets and children under the age of five are among the most susceptible to these deadly plants. Listed below are five toxic plants that you may have in your home.

  1. Caladium. It has red, green, and sometimes white leaves, and it’s toxic. The plant contains calcium oxalate, a chemical that irritates the mucous membranes and swells tongues and lips. Ingesting it can cause vomiting, excessive drooling, and swallowing difficulties in cats and dogs.

  2. Dumb Cane. One of the most popular leafy houseplants, dumb cane also contains calcium oxalate. Eating any part of the plant may cause a person’s mouth to burn and tongue to swell, and in severe cases, it can lead to death. Dogs and cats experience similar symptoms in addition to vomiting and drooling.

  3. Lilies. Lilies are one of the most poisonous plants for cats—if even the smallest amount of the plant is eaten, cats may experience kidney failure. Certain lilies, such as peace lilies, are harmful for humans as well, causing mouth swelling in addition to other symptoms.

  4. Black and white cat nipping at potted poinsettiaPoinsettia. A potted poinsettia is commonly used as decoration during the holiday season. Unfortunately, it is also a toxic plant for both humans and pets. The sap from the plant can cause diarrhea and vomiting if swallowed. It can also irritate your dog’s or cat’s mouth and stomach.

  5. Golden Pothos. Sometimes referred to as devil’s ivy, this leafy houseplant also contains the calcium oxalate chemical. It is toxic to cats, dogs, and humans alike. Ingesting any part of the plant can lead to oral irritation, swelling, and in some cases, drooling and difficulty swallowing.

To protect your family from potential poisonings, identify any hazardous houseplants you may have and keep them out of reach. Once you’ve done that, take a second look at the plants in your landscape. For more information, check back tomorrow for part two, where we’ll look at poisonous plants in your backyard.

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