Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia Regniae), is indigenous to South Africa. It received its name from the flower’s resemblance to a beautiful bird of flight. They are hardy and low-maintenance which makes them ideal houseplants.
Asking ‘is Bird of Paradise toxic to cats and dogs?’ is a question that needs explanation. Especially if you are planning on owning one of these stunning plants.
So, if you have an inquisitive (and often greedy) pet or two that has free reign of your home, here’s everything you need to know before investing your time and money in buying one.
Can Cats Or Dogs Be Harmed By Bird of Paradise
Unfortunately, Bird of Paradise plants is toxic to cats and dogs. The toxins in this plant cause gastric distress and if consumed, expect symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and disorientation from dehydration.
The good news is that ingestion is unlikely to kill your pet! They contain a chemical called tannins which have a bitter taste that should deter your pet from consuming large amounts.
Bird of Paradise Causing Harm to Cats
Cats are curious creatures and it is no surprise that they would be attracted to this plant. Sadly, Bird of Paradise is toxic to cats. If ingested it could cause nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and disorientation. It’s best to keep these plants away from your cats.
If you are concerned about your cat’s interest in this plant, to be on the safe side, I would recommend finding places to put this plant that are out of reach of your cats.
Effects of Bird of Paradise On Dogs Or Other Pets
Whether you have the white, red, Mexican Bird of Paradise, or anything in between, these plants should be kept out of reach of dogs and other pets.
If swallowed, the hydrocyanic acid that is contained in Bird of Paradise will most certainly harm your pet.
In particular, the flower component of the plant, when ingested by a dog, can have effects as soon as 20 minutes after consumption.
Find a high shelf or somewhere your pet is not permitted so that they can’t be tempted to reach them.
What Part of Bird Of Paradise Is Poisonous?
All parts of the Bird of Paradise plant are toxic to cats and dogs. The flowers contain the toxin tannin which is known to be a gastrointestinal irritant in animals.
Take extra care if you are growing these plants outdoors in climates that replicate their natural habitat and when flowering is more easily achieved. The good news (for pets and their owners) is this plant rarely blooms indoors, and therefore toxicity levels are lower.
Hydrocyanic acid is another toxic element in these plants. This toxin is formed by the mixing of compounds and enzymes when the leaf or stem is ruptured by a bite from an unsuspecting pet.
Seeds and Flowers
The seeds and flowers of this plant are the most toxic part of the plant. Because these are tropical plants, when grown inside they are rarely in the perfect conditions to bloom. This, therefore, lowers their toxicity levels.
The leaves contain a toxin called hydrocyanic acid. Ingesting this acid can cause prussic acid poisoning which is common in animals. Symptoms include rapid breathing and an excess of saliva plus diarrhea and vomiting.
If your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms, consult the ASPCA poison control hotline or call your local veterinarian.
How Poisonous Is A Bird Of Paradise Plant?
Birds of Paradise are toxic in the sense that they irritate the digestive system and can make breathing difficult. But, they have not been known to kill domestic animals provided they are treated by a medical professional early on.
Nevertheless, I would refrain from adding one to your collection if you are worried about your pets messing with them.
What To Do If Your Pet Eats A Poisonous Plant
Mild nausea, lethargy, loss of coordination, diarrhea, and vomiting are some of the common symptoms of plant toxicity in cats and dogs. If you suspect your cat or dog has eaten Strelitzia seeds, fruits, or leaves and is experiencing any of the symptoms listed, contact your veterinarian.
You can also call the ASPCA poison control hotline or visit their website to research further. This is also a great resource to have on hand if your pets consume any type of houseplants.
How Do I Stop My Pet From Eating My Houseplants?
You may want to consider ways to keep your pets away from your bird of paradise plant. There are a variety of options for doing so, like creating a cat-proof terrarium, investing in repellents, putting your plants out of reach, or providing them with safe substitute plants if they enjoy grazing.
You can also try an eco-friendly pet repellent. Cats dislike the smell of eucalyptus, lavender, lemongrass, or peppermint so pick one that you enjoy and mix together ¾ parts water with 12 drops of essential oil. Shake up the bottle and spray the solution on your plants.
Dogs dislike the smell of citrus fruits so you can use the same eco-friendly repellent for dogs. Alternatively, substitute a citrus oil like grapefruit, lemon, or orange for eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, etcetera.
If you are really worried about your pets eating your plants while you are gone, you can put them in terrariums. These are a beautiful way to show off your plants while also keeping your pets safe.
You may also consider putting your dog in a crate or cats in a plant-free room or placing your plants in a room that is out of bounds to your pets.
How Do I Make My Bird of Paradise Pet safe?
Although there is no way to make the plant non-toxic, there are a few things you can do to make sure that your pets do not ingest it again. Moving your plants out of reach is a good start when you are not home or can’t monitor your pets.
Put them in a room where your pets will not be able to get to them or place them in a greenhouse. And be sure to clean up fallen leaves so that your pets stay safe even as your plant is out of their reach.
I have also seen friends put their plants in hanging baskets out of reach or their smaller plants on narrow window sills where pets cannot get to them. This may seem like a lot of extra work and it will certainly make watering more difficult but it is worth it for the safety of your pets!