When you live with animals, you quickly get a sense of what flowers aren’t safe to have around. That can often make it feel like you can’t cultivate a garden at all.
But the fact is that there are lots of plants that are safe for dogs and cats.
So, are lotus plants poisonous to cats?
These days most cat owners can tell you that lilies are poisonous to cats. That makes anything in the Lilium family a non-starter.
The worst part is the bulb, but as the lilies grow, the toxin spreads through the plant, making the leaves, stalks, and petals equally poisonous to cats.
If you want to start a water garden and have cats in your house, this means water lilies aren’t an option. However, lotus plants aren’t lilies. They’re Nelumbo Nucifera.
Despite their striking resemblance to water lilies, water lotuses are different flowers. They have more delicate leaves and are less waxy to touch. They are safe for cats.
That means that not only do you not have to worry about your cat consuming water lotuses, but you rest assured that they can safely drink the surrounding water.
But what about the lotus plant?
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Water lotuses might belong to the Nelumbo family, but out of the water, they are Proteaceae.
The plants in the Proteaceae family, such as the pincushion flower, which are considered invasive species in states like California and Texas, are also non-toxic to cats.
That means the lotus plant is safe for cats, and even without a pond, you can plant it without worrying about any feline misadventures.
Cats typically don’t interact with plant roots unless they’re inveterate diggers. So, your primary concern is whether the visible parts of the lotus plant are safe for cats.
However, lotus root is a common cooking ingredient, which means there’s always a chance your cat will stumble across it once they’re home from abroad.
And if your cat likes to help you cook by walking on the counters or sniffing at cooking ingredients, it’s natural for you to worry about whether or not lotus root is safe for cats.
A good rule of thumb is that if the roots are poisonous, so is the plant.
The bulbs are the mechanisms that distribute any toxins into the external parts of the plant. In the case of the lotus plant, because the leaves and flowers are non-toxic, neither are the roots.
And while there are comprehensive lists of plants toxic for cats, lotus plants aren’t on them.
That said, the roots of any plant always have a higher concentration of potential toxins than the petals or leaves, so if your cat reacted to a lotus plant, it would likely be after eating the root.
But because the toxicity of lotus plants is minimal, any symptoms your cat experienced would be mild.
It’s also worth noting that cats don’t taste sweetness, so lotus roots won’t hold the same appeal for them that they might for another animal.
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We’ve talked about the danger of water lilies to cats. We also discussed how Blue Lotus is not toxic to cats.
However, water lilies and lotuses aren’t the only flowers you find in garden ponds, and not all other flowers are equally harmless. Here are other plants that are poisonous to cats.
Gardeners love taro pond plants because of their height. A well-cultivated taro pond plant looks regal. It’s also extremely poisonous to cats. Ingestion of it or nearby water can cause:
- Labored breathing
- Altered heart rate
- Kidney failure
The water and sweet flag flowers are also pond staples, and unfortunately, they are poisonous to cats.
While not as severely poisonous as taro pond plants or lilies, you still don’t want your cat eating them. Signs of water or sweet flag poisoning in your cat include:
- Increased drooling
- Skin irritation
- Burning in mouth
The best way to spot these symptoms is by catching your cat pawing at its mouth. If you notice any signs of poisoning, call an emergency vet immediately.
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Sometimes what’s harmful to cats doesn’t bother dogs and vice versa. Despite both being domestic animals, their bodies can work extremely differently.
That said, flowers in the Proteaceae family are also non-toxic to dogs. That means that lotus plants are also safe for dogs.
You can plant them in your garden, and rest assured neither Mog nor Rover will come to harm.
That’s not to say it won’t cause some mild irritation. If your dog gets hold of a lotus leat while you’re out walking, they may experience mild symptoms, like:
- Stomach gurgling
- Mild vomiting or diarrhea
On paper, these can sound alarming, but chances are your dog will combat any potential side effects from eating a lotus flower by munching grass.
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Another part of the lotus your dog might get into is the lotus root. These make popular home decorations and are also prevalent in Asian cooking.
Since dogs try to eat anything their humans eat, it’s unsurprising that occasionally they try to consume lotus root. But is it safe for dogs?
Like the rest of the lotus plant, lotus roots are safe for dogs.
You probably won’t be feeding them to Spot as part of his evening meal, but you shouldn’t worry if you find him gnawing on one, either.
The sweetness of the lotus root might even appeal to your dog.
If you are concerned about a dog that eats lotus root, monitors him for the next 24 hours.
This is always a good idea, especially if your dog has a sensitive stomach or a history of digestive issues.
So, that’s the lotus plant covered. Are Lotus flowers safe for dogs?
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We’ve talked about how types of Proteaceae or lotus and their flowers are safe for dogs. But what about other lotus classifications?
As discussed, many of the flowering lotuses you see in ponds are Nelumbo Nucifera. Sometimes called the Blue Lotus, the plant has culinary and sacred uses among humans.
But is the lotus flower safe for dogs?
Answering this is important since, unlike cats, dogs are much better about drinking when they need to, including from your ornamental pond.
That’s fine unless they drink water hosting toxic plants because those toxins will ebb from the roots into the water.
Luckily, Blue Lotus is safe for dogs. You probably shouldn’t encourage them to eat it, but it’s not toxic, either.
Interestingly, water lilies, another staple of garden ponds, are also safe for dogs. That’s because most of the things that might make water lilies risky, like calcium oxidants, are insoluble.
As long as your dog isn’t munching on the water lilies, he can drink the water they float on safely.
Even if your dog did eat the water lilies, the most extreme reaction would be a case of mild indigestion.
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Lotus flowers might be safe for dogs, but there are still several other flowers that frequent ornamental ponds you want to keep Fido away from.
Water hyacinths are popular with gardeners because of their beauty. But they can also turn invasive and quickly take over a pond if you don’t keep them in check.
More problematically, they are toxic to dogs. And unlike water lilies, the toxic parts of the plants are water-soluble, so if you spot water hyacinth on a pond, don’t let your dog drink from it.
Symptoms of water hyacinth toxicity include:
The aquatic iris is another flower poisonous to dogs. However, the extent of the toxicity depends on what part of the plant your dog ingests.
Common symptoms from consuming this plant include:
- Irritated eyes and skin
Cardinals come in many varieties and none of them are safe for dogs. This is true whether your dog eats the leaf or the bulb. Even in small amounts, the damage can be critical.
If you think your dog ate a cardinal or drank from water nearby one, watch for signs of:
- Muscle weakness/atrophy
- Increased heart rate
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While lotus plants are not poisonous for cats, and lotus flowers are similarly not poisonous for dogs, eating they may still cause mild indigestion or vomiting.
Moreover, they aren’t the only plants you find in ponds, so if you notice possible poisoning symptoms after your pet takes a drink somewhere unusual, don’t hesitate to call the vet.
Finally, what’s harmless to dogs may be toxic to cats. So, choose your plants wisely, and as much as possible, supervise where your dog or cat drinks. If they do come into contact with lotus plants or flowers, rest assured that these are safe for dogs and cats alike.
I’m Elsa, and I love gardening. I started GardeningElsa.com as a resource for other gardeners, and I offer expert advice on gardening topics such as plants, flowers, herbs, and vegetable gardening. On my website, I share my latest tips and tricks for creating beautiful gardens. When I’m not working on my website, you can find me in my own garden, tending to my plants and flowers. Read more about me.