Are Boston Ferns Toxic To Dogs?

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Are Boston Ferns Toxic To Dogs?

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Ferns are cherished houseplants. We have utilized them for millennia, thanks to their incredible benefits around the home. For one, they add beauty and freshness to any space. Since they come in many varieties, you will always get what suits you the best. Ferns are also remarkably easy to maintain. They thrive both indoors and outdoors as long as they get sufficient water and fertile soil.

However, like other beautiful plants, you have to be careful before adding greenery to your home if you have pets. Some of them can be toxic to the poor animals, causing illness and death. Is Boston fern one of them? We investigate…

What Is Boston Fern?

The Boston fern, Nephrolepis exaltata or sword fern is a type of fern plant that grows in the tropics. Homeowners use it primarily as a houseplant because it requires minimal light. The plant has green foliage with blue-green fronds shaped like swords and tiny leaflets that shoot up and arch as they mature.

From hanging baskets to container houseplants, the Boston Fern is very versatile. Most people like to hang them on porches and balconies or place them in humid areas around the house including the bathroom, sauna, and steam rooms. It is one among many fern species such as the Maidenhair fern, Lady fern, Ostrich fern, Royal fern, Christmas fern, Asparagus fern, and macho fern.  

Are They Toxic To Dogs?

Many of the fern species are harmful to our charming four-legged friends but the Boston fern is fortunately not one of them. ASPCA has listed it as one of the non-toxic houseplants for dogs and cats. Thanks to its shaggy fronds, both cats and dogs are highly attracted to it. If your pet is one of them, you can rest easy knowing he is safe around it. If she chomps on a few leaves, he will not have runny stools, bouts of vomiting, or any of the popular plant poisoning symptoms.

As usual, you want to make sure your doggie doesn’t consume too much of the fern. Despite being totally harmless, a massive amount of green matter can spell trouble for the poor dog. His gut is designed to handle meat for the most part among other food groups in smaller quantities.

Are Asparagus Ferns Toxic To Dogs?

Also called the emerald fern, emerald feather, plumose fern, or Sprengeri fern, the Asparagus fern is an attractive plant with feathery light foliage. Despite looking like your average fern, it is actually not in the fern family. Instead, it belongs to the Liliaceae family and has a close relationship to lilies, tulips, hostas, daylilies, and amaryllis.

Because of this, it is one of the toxic plants for both dogs and cats. Its berries contain a toxic substance known as sapogenin which stimulates diarrhea, vomiting, and tummy upsets in dogs. If your doggy exposes his sensitive skin on the plant repeatedly, he may have allergic dermatitis or skin inflammation. The berries deliver worse symptoms than the foliage. The intensity of harm will generally depend on the health and age of the pup and the amount ingested. For obvious reasons, puppies experience severe poisoning symptoms than adult doggies.

Are Lady ferns Poisonous to dogs?

The Lady fern is another elegant sprawling plant with textured fonts like those of the other members of the fern family. It is a special plant as it thrives perfectly in shaded areas where most garden flowers and plants don’t do so well. Its fronds remain green and vibrant the entire summer only changing color to golden yellow during the initial frost.

Unfortunately, these, too, are not safe around pets. Their leaves and rhizomes feature a toxic chemical called filicic acid used to treat tapeworms and other parasites. If your dog ingests a large amount of the leaves or rhizomes, he will show symptoms of toxicity including convulsions and death. Thankfully, filicic acid is rather harmless when ingested in small quantities. However, it can be difficult to keep tabs on your pooch round the clock to know how much they have consumed. As a result, you are better off not having the plant around dogs at all.

Are Macho Ferns Poisonous To Dogs?

The macho fern resembles the Boston fern in that it comes with sword-shaped fronds. The only difference is that it has larger leaves that grow up to 4 feet long. The plant itself can reach a width of 6 feet. This means it is more of a garden or outdoor plant rather than a houseplant.

Having said that, some homeowners still have the beautiful tropical plant indoors. As long as you get a spot with light shade and moist soil, it will always appear green. With regards to poisoning, the macho fern appears to be among the safe fern options available. Neither the ASPCA nor any other trustworthy botanical site has listed it as poisonous. The culprit is mainly the Asparagus fern and a little of the Lady Fern. If you love the lady fern, go ahead and plant it.

Parting Thoughts

Ferns are undoubtedly easy on the eyes. For this reason, they are some of the most popular indoor and outdoor plants known to man. They are also easy to plant and care for. While most of the varieties are safe around cats and dogs, others are toxic. You might want to stay away from the Asparagus and Lady ferns if you have pets at home. 

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

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Sable M. is a canine chef, professional pet blogger, and proud owner of two male dogs. I have been an animal lover all my life, with dogs holding a special place in my heart. Initially, I created this blog to share recipes, tips, and any relevant information on healthy homemade dog treats. But because of my unrelenting passion to make a difference in the world of dogs, I have expanded the blog’s scope to include the best information and recommendations about everything dog lovers need to know about their canine friends’ health and wellbeing. My mission now is to find the most helpful content on anything related to dogs and share it with fellow hardworking hound lovers. While everything I share is in line with the latest evidence-based veterinarian health guidelines, nothing should be construed as veterinary advice. Please contact your vet in all matters regarding your Fido’s health.