Grow Fresh Air With Plants That Are Safe for Cats and Dogs

By Carly Sutherland

Plants that are safe for cats and dogs are great for decorating, but they can provide the benefit of fresh air for pets and pet parents alike.


Dr. Cathy Alinovi, DVM, author and pet health expert, explains it like this, “These days, many houses are built for energy efficiency. This can mean fewer fresh air opportunities for people or their pets. For those who can open their windows wide, city living/pollution might make it such that the better air is on the inside.”


She goes on to say, “Stale air can adversely affect health. Stale air has higher levels of carbon dioxide, possibly carbon monoxide and other waste gases. Higher wastes mean less oxygen availability.”


Houseplants cleanse the air we breath from toxins found in many household products—formaldehyde, benzene and carbon monoxide, just to name a few. These toxins are found in household cleaners, paint, solvents, vinyl, cigarettes—the list goes on. Plants play a vital role in improving indoor air quality and helping to remove trace levels of toxic vapors from the air.


Indoor, Pet-Friendly Plants Release Oxygen


One standout benefit is more oxygen. You may be wondering why more oxygen in the home is ideal. When we breathe, we inhale oxygen, and when we exhale, we are releasing carbon dioxide.


During photosynthesis, plants essentially do just the opposite. Plants absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, which creates a healthy and symbiotic relationship between plants and animals (both human and nonhuman). Plants undoubtedly increase oxygen levels, and our bodies—as well as our pets’ bodies—certainly appreciate it!


Dr. Alinovi goes on to explain, “Oxygen is critical for good brain and muscle function. Therefore, stagnant air can lead to tiredness and brain dizziness, and can even affect heart function. The good news is, safe indoor plants help clean the air and increase oxygen concentration while decreasing waste products.”


As Dr. Alinovi explains, plants make great natural air purifiers!


Houseplants Can Raise the Humidity Level


According to a study conducted by Virginia Lohr of the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Washington State University, increased oxygen in the home isn’t the only benefit plants provide for both pets and owners. They also raise the air’s humidity by releasing water in the form of moisture vapor. This means softer skin, less dandruff on your furry family members, and clean and healthy airways for both you and your pets.


In a natural environment, a plant’s roots tap the groundwater table, and through a process known as transpiration, the water evaporates through its leaves. Evidently, the same thing happens in our home—of course with a different water supply.


Choose Plants That Are Safe for Cats and Dogs

Dr. David Dorman, DVM and professor of Toxicology at North Carolina State University of Veterinary Medicine, explains the importance of researching safe plants for dogs and safe plants for cats.


“Exposure of dogs and cats to household plants occurs commonly, especially with younger animals that tend to be very inquisitive. Some plants are extremely toxic to our pets. For example, cats ingesting small amounts of Easter lily leaves can develop life-threatening kidney failure. This is just one of many examples,” he says.


Dr. Dorman goes on to explain, “It’s important to remember that your pet cannot distinguish between safe-to-eat plants and those that are dangerous. The key to preventing poisonings in your pets is to prevent exposure.” Thus, don’t bring poisonous plants into the home with cats and dogs, period.


“Some plants can cause vomiting without actually being poisonous. Poinsettia and spider plants are an example [of this]. On the other hand, many lily species are poisonous, can cause kidney failure and should not be used in the home with pets,” says Dr. Alinovi. She suggests trying succulents and herbs in the home.


If you’re concerned that you pet has ingested a poisonous plant, or they’re showing symptoms of poisoning, contact your veterinarian immediately. The ASPCA and Pet Poison Helpline have valuable information regarding safe, non-poisonous plants for use around pets.


Here a few examples of plants that are safe for cats and dogs:



  • Boston Fern


  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Lemon Balm
  • Rosemary
  • Sage


  • African Violet
  • Aluminum Plant (aka Watermelon plant)
  • Bamboo
  • Friendship Plant
  • Spider Ivy (aka Spider Plant)
  • Swedish Ivy


  • Blue Echeveria (aka Wax Rosette, Painted Lady)
  • Christmas Cactus
  • Haworthia
  • Hens and Chickens


  • Areca Palm
  • Dwarf Palm (aka Good Luck Palm)


Consider Edible Grasses

The benefits of pet-friendly plants in the home will only work if they aren’t eaten or chewed-on, Dr. Alinovi explains. “The downside of trying to grow cat mint or edible grasses is they both taste great, and the challenge will be to keep pets from eating the plants. (If the plants are eaten, they will have difficulty cleaning the air.),” she says.


Having cat-safe houseplants and plants that are safe for dogs doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t be nibbled on from time to time. This is where adding pet grass, such as The Cat Ladies organic pet grass kit with planter, comes in handy!


Dr. Dorman explains why some cats enjoy nibbling on indoor plants. “Some cats enjoy chewing on these types of grass materials. Other cats may occasionally develop vomiting even from this ingestion. Most high-quality cat food based diets are complete, meaning they provide all of the nutrients your cat needs—so supplementing their diet with plant materials is not required,” he says.


If your dog or cat enjoys a pet grass to munch on and doesn’t get stomach upset, then pet grass kits, like Pet Greens self-grow garden pet grass, might be the solution to keeping a happy pet.


Do your research on plants that are safe for cats and dogs, and add functional décor to you and your pets’ most treasured spaces for a healthier and happier home!




Weird Things your Dogs Do and Why!

Your dog does some very wacky things. In fact, at times, watching the antics of your pet is better than watching TV especially those that don’t have cable! So I bet you think to yourself –what are they thinking and why in the world are they doing that?

I’ve listed a few strange doggie antics that I think you will enjoy.

My Dog dips his paw in his water bowl   dog splashing

I was at the shelter this week and witnessed an odd behavior when a yellow lab was dipping his paw and splashing water in and all around his bowl as I filled it. In fact, as fast as I filled it, he was emptying it with his paw. He did not seem interested in drinking the fresh, cool water—oh no, he was just playing! I bet this happens once in a while in your home too. Well, when I asked the dog why he was scooping the water out of the bowl he told me he liked wet paws and licking them. Ah ha! That answer sort of made sense to me. I have witnessed dogs repeatedly licking their paw but obviously having wet paws in the first place was better than wetting them with their tongue.

My Dog Eats Grass and Other Strange Plants!  dog eating grass

Yep, my dog thinks the park is a gourmet buffet of tempting grasses for his palate. He will walk past dandelions, chives and many other types of edible plants to happily chew on a tall leafy plant that looks like really long grass.

According to Dr. Karen Becker, if your otherwise healthy, well-nourished dog nibbles on selected grass once in awhile, there’s no cause for concern. (as long as there was no toxins on the plants).


Dogs that selectively choose specific grasses to nibble on may be seeking out the plant’s medicinal qualities (many grasses are high in potassium and enzymes) or looking for a natural source of fiber. But then there are the frantic, non-selective grass eaters, which may mean a GI problem is brewing. I have seen this behavior in our back yard. Once in a blue moon he will run into the back yard and immediately start pulling grass out, roots and all, and scarfing it down like it’s a delicacy.


Dogs will instinctively search for natural remedies for the occasional upset stomach, and grass often does the trick, not to mention it’s usually easy to find. There is something about the texture of grass that triggers vomiting or a bowel movement in many dogs, which relieves tummy discomfort. But if the grass eating is chronic and especially if it causes your pet to vomit frequently, it’s time to make an appointment with your veterinarian.

In the meantime, I recommend upgrading your dog’s diet if she’s still eating kibble or any non-human grade commercial dog food. Most healthy dogs fed a balanced, species-appropriate diet don’t eat grass because they receive all the nourishment their bodies need from their food, and they rarely suffer from digestive issues. Adding probiotics and digestive enzymes can also benefit dogs with “sensitive stomachs.”

I purchase very expensive, grain free food and supplement it with home cooked meat. Being certified in canine nutrition I am certain that my dog is receiving optimal nutrition from a species-appropriate diet but if he continues to eat a good amount of grass, I would consider growing my own sunflower sprouts. Sprouts can provide an easy, inexpensive source of fresh, live, organic vegetation and are much more nutritious for your pet than grass.

Ever see your Dog Performing the Scratch Dance?

Every day when I walk my dog, he moves his bowels (obviously the reason for the walk). As I stand there waiting for him to finish, I get my bag all ready and the second he is done I bend down to pick up his excrement. Guess what? I get a face full of grass, dirt, leaves or snow depending on the time of the year. That’s a fine thank you for the walk! It’s bad enough that I have to carry the stinky stuff back home but to get a face full of dirt/grass/snow is not my idea of facial!

So why is this annoying behavior occurring? It seems that many of the dog’s ancestors (wild dogs and wolves) kicked at the ground after pooping to hide and also mark their territory. Dogs have glands in their paws that have pheromones and by scratching the ground they release their individual scent onto the dirt. Ever have to physically pull your dog away from sniffing a tree, fire hydrant or specific flower? They are learning about the dog that has previously been there. So let’s doe-si-doe!

Why Does My Dog Eat Poop?

You witness your dog gobble up a turd he found outside like it’s a filet migon. Gross, right? So what is with this disgusting habit? Well, dogs eat poop for lots of reasons.

Again, according to Dr. Becker the scientific name for stool eating is coprophagia. Sometimes, there’s an underlying medical problem like an enzyme deficiency or pancreatic insufficiency. Intestinal malabsorption and GI parasites are also common medical reasons underlying coprophagia.

If your dog is on a poor-quality, processed dry food diets he will often seek out other sources of digestive enzymes to make up for a chronic enzyme deficiency brought on by a biologically inappropriate diet.

Coprophagia can also have a behavioral cause. Dogs that are feeling anxious or stressed may eat poop. Additionally so will dogs who have been punished for inappropriate elimination, which includes many puppy mill dogs.

Dr. Becker’s recommendations for curbing/eliminating this behavior include feeding a diet containing human-grade (preferably unprocessed) protein and supplement with probiotics and digestive enzymes, and insuring your dog has toys that stimulate her brain and alleviate boredom. Also insure he is well-exercised. You may want to consider experimenting with some of the over-the-counter coprophagia deterrent products. Make sure you look for a non-toxic product that doesn’t contain MSG.

If despite your best efforts your dog’s poop eating behavior isn’t improving, or is getting worse, I recommend making an appointment with your vet to rule out any underlying medical reason for the behavior.fowllanguagecomics-comics-dogs-poop-1717830