Pet Friendly Plants for your Home

Pet Friendly Plant: Burro's tail in yellow ceramic planter.

Spring has officially hit, at least on the calendar! I’m still waiting for the weather to catch up 😉 But I do know it will be here before we know it! So, why not start planning for it now? Plants, greenery, flowers…. These are what come to mind when I think Spring in Virginia. I’m beyond ready to see color outside and inside again! But, what pet friendly plants should I use in my home? What plants are safe around my dogs? Many common indoor house plants that seem popular with interior designers are actually quite toxic for cats, dogs, or both! So, I’ve done some research. And I’m sharing my recommendations for pet friendly plants to use in your home or garden.

Before we dig into these pet friendly plant suggestions, I’d also like to remind you to check out the ASPCA website for additional information on plants that are toxic to dogs and/or cats. You can search their site a few different ways including by animal (cat, dog, or horse), common plant name, or scientific plant name. While I’m sharing a few common plants, there are so many others, too. I was quite surprised to see so many of the common house plants are toxic as I researched plants to recommend.

Gray and white cat looking longingly out a window with a sheer curtain.
Keep reading below to learn more about plants that are safe to use around your cat.
Herbs

Spruce up your kitchen with natural elements you can use in your meals and are safe for your dogs and cats. Basil, thyme, cilantro, mint, and parsley are great options! And, how adorable would it be to have new pots like these from Amazon? However, there are some herbs that aren’t safe for your four legged family members, so make sure you check with the ASPCA database before adding any herb to your kitchen garden.

Money Tree/Pachira Aquatica shown in a bark textured pot.
Gorgeous Money Tree (Pachira Aquatica) shown in a textured bark pot. Photo by York Flowers in Washington DC and Annapolis MD.
Money Tree (Pachira aquatica)

This is one of my favorite plants. Not only because I think the name is amusing (money does grow on trees!!). But I also love it’s appearance, especially the beautiful shape and green of the leaves. It’s also perfect if you’re like me and always over-water your plants! While this is not a toxic plant, it is advised to not use this plant in a home where the pets nibble on leaves. The ASPCA website does say that if it’s ingested, it should only  cause minor tummy irritation in your pet. Huge shout out to York Flowers for this beautiful image above of a Money Tree. If you’re in the DC area and need a florist, make sure you check them out. You can find them on most social media outlets, including Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.  

Calathea (Calathea spp.)

Those of you that know me, know that I’m a fan of color, and this plant definitely incorporates more than just green into your home. It’s known for the rich purples, pinks, reds, and greens that make up its leaves. This is a great plant for spaces that don’t have bright or direct sunlight. Plus, according to AirSoPure it has been shown to help purify the air around it, making it a great choice for health in addition to appearance!  

Burro’s Tail (Sedum morganianum)

Also known as the Horse’s tail, Donkey’s tail, or Lamb’s tail, this plant is another easy to care for plant. As the name suggests, it does get long (around 4 ft in about 6 years) and needs a supportive planter for its eventual weight. It does well hanging, but can also sit on a table or shelf. Flowering is possible, but it is very rare.

Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnea recurvata)

The ponytail palm is a slow growing and easy to maintain plant. If you travel a lot or are forgetful of plants, this is the plant for you! Its bulbous base stores water, so you want to be sure that you have given the plant enough room in the pot. Also, make sure you do not over water this plant. I really enjoyed reading tips and tricks associated with this plant from the blog, Joy Us Plants.

Cast-Iron Plant (Aspidistra elatior)

If you’re looking for a plant that needs minimal (and I do mean that!!) attention, this is the one for you. It is on the larger side, with leaves up to 2 feet tall, but it is extremely sturdy! Fascinating fact that I learned from Gardening Know How is that this plant is related to the lily family. According to them it “has small purple flowers that only appear near the soil surface and are hidden in its foliage.” Make sure to check out the link above for additional information on how to care for this plant.

Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exalta bostoniensis)

While the name didn’t seem familiar to me, once I saw the image, I immediately recognized it. According to The Spruce, this is one of the most common ferns. And it’s clear to see why with such a luscious look!  This is another fairly easy plant to maintain and looks great in just about anywhere!

Purple Passion Plant (Gynura aurantica)

I think I went to heaven when a friend recommended this plant and I found out that it is indeed pet safe! It has rich purples and greens (with the occasional yellow flowers). And because of the raised hairs on the leaves, it is also referred to as the Velvet Plant, Royal Velvet Plant, or the Purple Velvet plant. It is a fast growing plant. Young plants make great table decor, and once mature will takes on a sprawling growth pattern making them wonderful for hanging planters.

American Rubber Plant (Peperomia obtusifolia)

This plant is often referred to as a “baby rubber plant” because of its petite size (largest varieties of this plant typically don’t exceed 15 inches). And, because of the sizing, it makes it a great addition to most design schemes and locations. It is also important to note that you must be sure that the plant you are looking to purchase is an American Rubber Plant or within the Peperomia family. Other Rubber Plants are not pet friendly and quite toxic to dogs and cats.

What to do if you believe your pet has ingested something poisonous?

If you know or suspect that your pet has ingested a toxic plant or substance, it is highly recommended that you immediately seek medical attention for them. In our area, we have a few emergency vets that we know and trust. Research emergency options for your pets in your area and have this information handy BEFORE it ever becomes needed.

The ASPCA also has a 24 hour animal poison control hotline available: 888-426-4435. (Add that number to your phone contacts now!!) In most cases, you will be charged $65 via credit card for their assistance. We have used this hotline a few times. One of our emergency vets even used the hotline for a fertilizer that Pebbles ingested a few years ago. (Long story short, the fertilizer she consumed would not harm her and the manufacturer would pay for the calls to the hotline because it was so common for it to be consumed by pets!!).

Doberman with a red and white collar sitting outside surrounded by a lush green forest of trees.
If you have dogs, you should be aware of the non-toxic plant options.
Final thoughts

I hope you have enjoyed this round up of safe plants for your pet friendly home. As a dog mom, I know how scary it is to know that something in your home or yard may not be safe for your dog or cat. Even if you may have used poisonous or toxic plants in the past, don’t fixate on that. Instead, do your research now and be proud of the fact that you are making changes as you learn more. Focus on growth: in yourself and in your new pet friendly plants!

xoxo,

Kayla

Burro's Tail, Money Tree, Basil Plant, Mint, and Boston Fern
Here are a few pet friendly house plants: burro’s tail, money tree, basil, mint, and boston fern.

10 Tips for Your New Holiday Puppy!

if you're a new puppy owner, here are 10 tips just for you!

“It takes a village.” This quote is usually associated with raising kids, but it absolutely applies to raising a puppy too. Raising a puppy can be exhausting and tough, and you don’t have to do it alone! I highly suggest that you create your own village, which may include a trainer, veterinarian, and family or friends. Be selective in building your village, though, as too many cooks may cause overwhelm rather than stability.

And, you won’t need any help with the overwhelm. Trust me. There will be times when you’re ready to just give up! However, with the help of these tips and your established village, I know you’ll be breathing easier already.

black and white image of puppy with a bow tie yawning. 10 tips for your new holiday puppy
10 tips from the pros on what to do after you bring your new puppy home!
You’re the parent

While you may not know everything about raising your new furbaby, trust your gut when it comes to building your village. If you’re not feeling great about a situation, get a second or third opinion. You don’t have to settle, just because someone was referred to you or they are closest to you. You want to find someone easy to talk to and seek advice from. They should be open to and interested in hearing your fears, concerns, and want to help you. Do research on anyone you’re interested in adding to your village. Make sure their values and the way they work match yours. It’s better to find those trusted sources now, rather than settling and then scrambling when something major comes up.

Finding The perfect Veterinarian

I asked Sarah Bason DVM, a small animal vet and small human mom in Prescott, Arizona, for her tips on locating the right veterinarian for your family. “You’ve got your dog, now you’ve got to find your Dogtor! Ask fellow dog owners who they use for medical care and why – you want to find a veterinary practice that fits with your needs. Consider their hours (are they open on weekends if you need them), their services (do they offer boarding or grooming), and mostly their approach to medicine. Some of this can be gleaned from their website, but don’t be shy to ask for a tour if you’re considering a couple of different practices. We love touring clients around because we’re proud of what we do!”

scheduling with your veterinarian

According to Sarah Bason DVM “Your puppy should have its first wellness visit within 48 hours after it comes home. This allows your veterinarian to identify any issues, gives the staff a chance to meet and snuggle your puppy and give them lots of treats so that they love us, and set up a vaccine schedule. Expect your pup to come in for vaccinations every 3-4 weeks until they are around 5 months old, for full protection against all the nasty diseases out there. Until that series is finished, I always tell people to keep pups in arms only in public places.”

Research your new puppy’s breed

Dogs are bred for specific “jobs” and it’s important to know what that job may be to best understand who your new puppy is. As Teresa Hanula, a DC Metro area dog trainer and owner of A Dog’s World Training & Pet Care, Inc., shares “dogs are all bred to have a certain job. And, when they become our pets, sometimes we forget that they have needs too! A Spaniel with no birds to hunt, a Labrador with nothing to retrieve and a Border Collie with no sheep to herd can find themselves their own hobbies, which typically end up being hobbies that we, as pet owners, don’t agree with!”

puppy on leash in a wooded area on a trail. does your puppy have a job?
Giving your puppy a job can keep them from being bored!
Give Your Puppy a Job

Did you know unemployment is the major cause for undesired puppy behavior?! But there’s a solution, according to Teresa Hanula! “Have your puppy earn all of this food and attention. Food is the money of the dog world and shouldn’t be given out for free. Have your pup learn behaviors like watch me, sit or down. Set up fun food trails for them to seek out and hunt their food. Hand feed them so they develop positive associations to men/women, training and hands! Slow bowl feeders and Kongs are wonderful tools to stuff and have your dog work on that puzzle! So many opportunities for work that there should be no need for dog employment furloughs!”

Food absolutely matters

I’ve mentioned this key piece of advice in regards to raising a senior dog, so it makes sense that it matters for your puppy, too. Sarah Bason DVM agrees and gave thoughts on how to choose the right puppy food for your furbaby. “Please choose a puppy food that is appropriate for your little buddy’s adult size, and choose a high quality brand that has undergone feeding trials. Your Great Dane should be eating a giant breed puppy food, your German Shepherd a large breed puppy food, and your Beagle or Chihuahua a regular puppy food. If you adopted a mixed breed puppy, your vet should be able to help you determine based on the puppy’s current size, just what you’re going to be dealing with, size-wise as an adult (but we don’t guarantee it!). Puppies should be fed at least twice daily, and should be encouraged to eat slowly – sometimes hand feeding for the first couple of weeks when you have time can help with this.” And, those same slow feeding bowls mentioned earlier would also be beneficial here, too!

Toys and Treats Aplenty

Just like with food, a puppy’s treats and toys matter, so how do you know what to look for? As Sarah Bason DVM says: “Everyone wants to give puppies snacks – it’s human nature and they love them! A soft, low calorie, breakable treat is best for puppies during training, because your puppy is going to be a good dog 1000 times per day and you want to be able to reward them without also overfeeding them. For chewing toys, the main risk is the fracture of those sharp little delicate baby teeth or the potential for ingestion of part of the treat. Stick with the firm rubber balls and toys, especially if they are able to be stuffed with smaller treats to keep puppy busy. Stay away from rawhide chews and actual bones or antlers. The rule of thumb is that if it hurts when you hit it directly across your knee, it’s not safe for your puppy, or adult dog’s teeth.”

Day to Day Schedules

Figure out the household’s schedule and how does it apply to your puppy. Do you need to hire someone to come in during the day (once or twice) to maintain scheduled outdoor visits? Do you have a safe space for the puppy to stay while you’re out (or even when you’re home)? Talk with your village members to see what is going to be best for your four-legged family member and your specific situation. Puppies (and many dogs) do well on a fixed schedule. Make sure whoever helps with your puppy is willing to maintain specific training, too.

Get your home ready

Have you puppy-proofed your home? It’s a very critical step as your puppy becomes curious. As with babies and toddlers, you’ll need to make sure your house promotes a safe environment for your puppy to grow in. Puppies will want to put everything in their mouths. Make sure you are putting away things that could harm them (cords, chemicals, and shoes are just a few things). Find toys and items safe for puppies to play with. Work with them to learn the appropriate things that are theirs vs items that aren’t.

Positive reinforcement: best for you and your puppy

I’m most definitely an advocate for positive training methods. They have worked very well with my own dogs and friends’ dogs. Studies have shown that this training style is better for the human and dog bond, especially for the animal’s welfare. You can learn more about the style and psychology around positive reinforcement training here. Teresa Hanula is a positive reinforcement trainer in the DC metro area with a variety of training services, including puppy kindergarten where she introduces positive reinforcement training.

Final thoughts

First, I want to send a huge thank you out to our two pros, Teresa and Sarah! Second, I really hope these tips will give you peace of mind and confidence in raising your new furbaby. And, finally, I just have one last piece of advice to add. There may be times when you’re questioning everything, but just remember: you’ve got this!

xoxo,

Kayla

Did you get a new puppy for Christmas? These tips from the pros are perfect for the new dog dad or dog mom!
four images of different puppies; if you got a new holiday puppy, then these tips are for you!
If you have a new puppy, these 10 tips from the pros are for you!!