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Are Caladium Poisonous? The Truth!

Are Caladium Poisonous?  The Truth!

There are many species of Caladium plants. Caladium is also called angel wings, elephant ears, exposition, fancy-leaved caladium, heart of Jesus, malanga, Mother-in-law-plant, pink cloud, Texas wonder, stoplight, and seagull.

No matter what you call it, it’s poisonous. These plants can not only make pets and small children very sick but can kill them.

Any child, adult, cat, dog, or horse that eats a caladium should be sent to a doctor or vet immediately.


Are Caladium Poisonous?

Unfortunately, Caladiums are also one of the most common houseplants to poison dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, and small children. They get poisoned by eating any part of the plant. The poisoning can be fatal. Eating this plant is a medical emergency.


Why Caladiums are Poisonous

The sap of caladiums contains an indigestible crystal called calcium oxalate that’s also extremely irritating. There’s also a protein in the plant called asparagine, which is also poisonous.

Both calcium oxalate and asparagine make all parts of the plant poisonous, including the bulbs.

You get poisoned by eating the plant or parts of the plant. The poison makes the plant taste bad, but that often will not stop pets like dogs.

Dogs eat trash and carrion. They have a much more limited sense of taste than people do.

Many people, usually those with sensitive skin, get itchy rashes when just handling the plant. These are usually helped by any over-the-counter product to reduce swellings, irritations, and itchiness of the skin.

You do not absorb the worst of the poisons through the skin and do not need to visit the emergency room just by touching a caladium.

If you have rubbed your mouth or ate something after handling a plant and have trouble breathing, call 911 immediately.


Symptoms of Caladium Poisoning

Symptoms of caladium poisoning in dogs and cats are similar to those in children. They are:

  • Drooling more than usual
  • Vomiting
  • Sores in the mouth, lips, or tongue
  • Swelling of the mouth, throat, lips, or tongue
  • Problem with swallowing
  • Pawing the face or mouth
  • Children will often get a swollen or sore nose. Sometimes they get sore eyes if they have touched the plant and rubbed their eyes.
  • Children will also complain of pain, while dogs might whimper or whine in distress. Often, pets will be silent when in pain, since in the wild a noisy animal brings the attention of predators.

Horses and rabbits cannot vomit but get other symptoms:

  • Swellings or sores on the tongue, lips, or mouth
  • Breathing much harder than usual
  • Sudden diarrhea
  • Pawing (in rabbits) or rubbing the mouth and face constantly
  • Shaking the head more often than usual.
  • Horses may or may not have signs of colic, such as pawing at the belly, trying to roll, sweating profusely and showing general signs of distress.


More Is Not Better

The good news is that caladiums, like most other poisonous plants, taste bad. This means children are more likely to spit out a piece than swallow it.

The more caladium that a child eats, the more chance of dying from the poison.

However, even if the child has spat out or thrown up the plant, call 911, the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222, or a doctor just to be on the safe side.

Pets and horses are often not inhibited by bad-tasting plants. Horses that are especially hungry or bored may eat bad-tasting plants.

Caladiums are known to taste bad to horses. The leaves are most poisonous to horses since horses are not usually attracted to bulbs. Dogs have been known to eat entire plants, including the bulbs.


Treating Caladium Poisoning

Since there are many species of caladium, take the plant (or what remains of it) with you when you take your pet or child for emergency medical help. This will help the staff identify the plant and select the right antidote.

Wash a child’s hands right away so the child does not rub the nose or eyes with hands irritated by the plant. It is possible for caladium to permanently damage the cornea.

If the child’s eyes hurt, wash them with a lot of clean water. DoveMed recommends making children drink milk.

Medication varies depending on if it’s a pet or a child affected. Histamines are given to help the child or pet breathe better.

Mouth or lip sores are often treated with ice packs to help reduce swelling. Substances called demulcents help protect and soothe mucus linings. These are often lard or food oils.

If there has been a lot of vomiting and/or diarrhea, then IV fluids may need to be given to prevent dangerous dehydration.


Keeping Poisonous Plants Away from Pets and Children

Ideally, you should never bring a caladium into a house or garden when you have kids or pets. Any caladiums in the house need to be kept out of reach of curious hands or mouths.

Keeping the plants in ceiling baskets is one option. Placing them on high shelves is another unless you have cats that are able to jump onto the highest shelves.

Check for fallen leaves every day and clean them up when you spot them. Check the plant to be sure that there isn’t a dying leaf that can be removed before it has a chance of falling to the floor.

Keep bulbs in a box with a child lock. Plants can also be kept in glass display cases, which keeps all parts of the plants away from pets or children.

Just be sure the case isn’t light enough to be pushed over easily.


Frequently Asked Questions About Caladiums Being Poisonous


Should I Wear Gloves When Working with Caladium Plants?

When working with caladium plants, you should wear gloves especially if you have sensitive skin. They can cause rashes which may or may not itch. If you touch a plant with an ungloved hand, immediately wash it.


What Parts of a Caladium are Poisonous?

All parts of a caladium are poisonous. If you catch your pet or child eating leaves, berries, florets, stems, central spike, or the bulbs, consider them poisoned. Get them to the emergency room or an emergency vet immediately.


Should I Induce Vomiting if I Think My Pet Ate Caladium?

It’s never a good idea to induce vomiting in a pet suspected of any kind of poisoning unless a veterinarian directly says to do so. Caladium is very irritating and burning, so damage may be done to the esophagus and mouth if it is brought back up.


The Least You Need to Know

All parts of caladium plants are poisonous to people, especially children and many kinds of pets. Poisoning can be lethal.

Call 911 or the National Poison Control Center if a child has eaten the plant. Call an emergency vet for any dog, cat, rabbit, or horse that has eaten the plant.

Always wear gloves when handling a caladium.