Is Bamboo Toxic To Cats & Dogs?

  • By: SFUAA
  • Date: August 15, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

So you got a new bamboo plant as a gift, but you’ve heard that it can be toxic to cats and dogs, and you have both in your family. But when you went online to research this, you came across several conflicting messages. Is bamboo really toxic to cats and dogs or not?

Real bamboo is not toxic to cats & dogs, but this often gets confused with other types of bamboo plants that are toxic for your pets. Lucky bamboo and Heavenly bamboo are toxic plants to cats and dogs, and if these are in your house, you may need to remove them.

If this sounds very confusing to you, then you’re in the right place. This article will attempt to sort it all out and help you recognize the type of bamboo you have, so your pets will stay safe. Let’s get started!

The Type Of Bamboo Matters

The ASPCA states that the natural bamboo of the Phyllostachys Aurea is non-toxic to cats and dogs. But, they also state that several other types of bamboo are toxic to dogs and cats, including the Lucky and Heavenly bamboo species.

If you have bamboo plants or things made with the stalks of bamboo, you’ll need to determine what you have, as the type of bamboo matters.

Let’s take a look at the differences between the toxic and non-toxic bamboo varieties.

Lucky Bamboo

Lucky bamboo, or Dracaena sanderiana, is toxic to cats and dogs and can cause several issues if your pets accidentally ingest these. Also known as “ribbon plants,” they tend to look like corn plants when corn first starts growing in the spring.

The stalks are long and thin, and the leaves are thin and pointy. If you have this plant in your house, you might want to either put it up high where your pet can get to it or put it outside.

Heavenly Bamboo

Heavenly bamboo, or Nandina Domestica, is another toxic bamboo plant you might want to keep away from your cat or dog. The toxic part of the plant is the cyanogenic glycosides that are in the berries. But, to be safe, you might want to keep the entire plant from your pet.

This plant has red berries and small green leaves that are oval and come to a point at both ends. 

How To Tell Toxic Bamboo From Non-Toxic Bamboo

Non-toxic bamboo has a long, thick stalk, with small leaves coming out of certain places on the stalk that has ridges all the way up. These plants are not toxic, and they can be around your cat or dog.

However, toxic bamboo has thinner stalks with brown or black stalks. The leaves congregate more at the top of the plant, and some grow red berries, but they don’t grow as large as non-toxic bamboo plants.

If these are your plants, you may need to keep them away from your pet.

How To Keep Your Pet Away From Toxic Bamboo

To keep your pet away from toxic bamboo, the simplest answer is to not have it in your house in the first place. However, if that’s not possible, you will need to take other precautions to keep your pet away. 

Let’s talk about these things now.

Keep Toxic Bamboo Out of Your House

While proper bamboo plants are non-toxic to your pets, other types are toxic. If you’re committed to protecting your pets from anything toxic in your house, then you may want to remove toxic bamboo from your home.

When you got your plant, it should have had the species’ name in the soil. 

If not, you might want to look it up. There are apps that you can use to identify plants with just a picture. Use one of these and if your plant is toxic, think about getting rid of it.

Spray Leaves With a Smelly Substance

If you have any essential oils, such as citruses like lemon or orange, or even cinnamon oil, try making a spray that you can spritz your plant with. Cats and dogs don’t like these scents, and if your plant smells like these, your pets will more than likely avoid it.

To be sure, try spritzing a piece of paper and let your pet smell it. 

If they run away, it’s a good bet that you have the right spray for your bamboo plant. But if they don’t, and they lick it, you might want to start over until you find the right smell.

Put Cayenne Pepper In the Soil

Cats, especially, don’t like strong scents or flavors like cayenne pepper. Dogs and cats will avoid cayenne pepper because it irritates their nasal passages and eyes. Most pet parents put this on things they don’t want their pet near.

So, to keep your dog or cat away from toxic bamboo plants, try putting a bit of cayenne pepper in the soil. Then make a liquid mixture of water and pepper and mist the plant’s leaves.

This should keep them away from the plant a little bit better.

Symptoms Of Bamboo Poisoning

If you’ve done everything you could to keep your dog or cat away from your toxic bamboo plant, and it didn’t work, you’ll need to recognize the symptoms of bamboo poisoning in your pet so that you can call the vet if needed.

Here are the symptoms of bamboo poisoning in your pet:

  • Cats get dilated pupils.
  • Weakness
  • Uncoordinated movements
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Abdominal pain
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Seizures
  • Coma
  • Depression

If your pet shows any of these signs, you’ll need to call your vet immediately, as they could have gotten in your toxic bamboo plant. 


Certain types of bamboo are toxic for your beloved pets and should be kept away from them. Other types, such as those with large, green stalks, are okay for your pets to be around.

If you have any questions about your plants and you don’t have a plant identification app, you might want to ask a plant expert to see which one you have. But if you’re in doubt, you’ll need to get the plants out of your house immediately.


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