If you’ve ever found a bite taken out of one of your houseplants, you may have had that moment where your heart sinks. How bad is this going to be?
The ASPCA lists monstera as being toxic to cats & dogs. (And people.) That doesn’t mean that monstera is deadly, though. The primary symptoms of monstera poisoning is pain and swelling of the mouth.
The fruit is toxic until it ripens, at which point it becomes edible. More on that later.
Let’s cover what you need to know.
How Dangerous is Monstera?
Monstera is not likely to kill a human, cat, or dog that eats it. The thing that makes it poisonous is something that will cause pain but isn’t typically lethal.
The exception being if it causes swelling of the mouth or throat in a way that prevents breathing. If this doesn’t happen, symptoms should go away on their own after a few days.
What makes monstera plants toxic is a substance called calcium oxalate crystals. This is the stuff that causes kidney stones and is in spinach in small amounts. There are two types of oxalates:
- Soluble – This is the more dangerous variety that can cause serious damage if ingested in high enough amounts.
- Insoluble – These are basically formed as tiny spines made of calcium. These cause pain and maybe swelling, but they’re unlikely to cause any permanent damage.
The type of calcium oxalate in monstera is the less dangerous insoluble variety. They basically act as a defensive mechanism for the plant, and they can be pretty painful in the mouth for anyone who tries to chew on a piece of a monstera leaf.
Symptoms of monstera poisoning may include the following:
- Higher than usual levels of salivation.
- Mouth pain.
- Decreased appetite.
What to Do if Your Cat or Dog Has Eaten Monstera?
The first thing you need to check if one of your kids or pets has eaten monstera is whether there is any swelling in the mouth or throat that might block the airway. If there is, you should seek medical treatment right away.
Otherwise, you can try to rinse some of the oxalate crystals out of the mouth using water or milk.
Dogs are lactose intolernant, so water only for them. If you have a syringe, you can use that to help rinse their mouth out.
Next, you’ll want to try to encourage them to drink something. If they won’t drink water, something with a bit more flavor (such as sodium-free beef broth) may work better. This will help rinse any oxalates out of their throat to help reduce their irritation.
If you have a species appropriate aspirin or other over the counter anti-inflammatory drug, that can help reduce swelling and irritation so they’ll feel more comfortable.
Otherwise, just monitor them to make sure their symptoms aren’t getting worse.
Most of the time, the symptoms should go away within 24 hours of your pet eating the monstera. If symptoms get worse or appear to be worse than I’ve described above, a trip to the vet may be necessary.
Are Monstera Fruit Toxic?
This section applies to monstera deliciosa fruit. Other species may be the same, but I’m not 100% familiar with them.
Monstera fruit contain the same oxalic acid that the leaves and stems contain until they ripen. All of the stuff I wrote above applies to unripe monstera fruit as well as the leaves.
Once the fruit ripens, however, it is actually edible (and is said to be delicious – hence monstera deliciosa).
You may want to remove the seeds when eating the fruit, however (black specs), as they may still cause some minor irritation of the mouth.
Ripening of the fruit can be done by putting it in a paper bag until the green scales on the fruit fall off.
All parts of a monstera plant are mildly toxic to people, cats, dogs, and rabbits. The cause of this toxicity is insoluble calcium oxalates, which are like tiny thorns embedded in the leaves of the plant.
In most cases this will just cause some irritation, excessive drooling, and maybe vomiting or loss of appetite and will resolve itself in 24 hours. In severe cases, it may cause swelling of the airway, which can be life threatening.
If it looks like your pet is having trouble breathing, get them to a vet immediately. Otherwise just rinse their mouth, encourage them to drink, and monitor them.
The fruit is actually edible once it ripens.
One final bit of advice – if your pet has already taken a bite out of your monstera once, the experience will probably be enough to keep them from doing it again. I’d still recommend moving your plant somewhere they can’t reach, because why take that chance?