Family playing with their dog in a forest of ferns

Ferns are a popular choice for houseplants, but if you have pets, you might be wondering if they are safe. While most ferns are not toxic to pets, there are a few exceptions that you should be aware of. So, are ferns toxic to pets?

In this article, we will explore the potential risks of ferns to pets and provide tips for keeping your furry friends safe.

Types of Toxic Ferns

There are several types of ferns that are toxic to pets, but they are not commonly found in homes. These include the following:

  • Bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum): This fern is found in wooded areas and is toxic to both dogs and cats. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite in pets.
  • Western sword fern (Polystichum munitum): This fern is native to the western United States and is toxic to cats. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing.
  • Eastern filmy fern (Hymenophyllum tunbrigense): This fern is found in the eastern United States and is toxic to cats. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing.

Symptoms of Fern Poisoning in Pets

If your pet has ingested a toxic fern, you may notice the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the face or mouth

If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, it is important to contact your veterinarian right away.

Cats sleeping on a bench within the garden amongst the ferns
Cats sleeping on a bench within the garden amongst the ferns

Non-Toxic Ferns

Most ferns are not toxic to pets, so you don’t have to worry about them causing harm. Some non-toxic ferns that are safe for pets include:

  • Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)
  • Bird’s nest fern (Asplenium nidus)
  • Staghorn fern (Platycerium spp.)
  • Maidenhair fern (Adiantum spp.)

How to Keep Your Pets Safe

Even if you have non-toxic ferns in your home, it is still important to take steps to keep your pets safe. Here are a few tips for preventing accidents:

  • Keep toxic plants out of reach: If you have a toxic fern or any other toxic plant in your home, make sure to keep it out of reach of your pets. This might mean keeping it on a high shelf or in a room that your pets do not have access to.
  • Use caution with fertilizers: Some fertilizers can be toxic to pets if ingested. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and keep fertilizers out of reach of your pets.
  • Monitor your pet’s behaviour: If you notice that your pet is acting strangely or seems to be in distress, it is important to pay attention to their behaviour and take action if necessary. This could include contacting your veterinarian or bringing your pet to the emergency room.

In conclusion

Ferns can be a beautiful and low-maintenance addition to your home, but it is important to be aware of their potential risks to pets. Most ferns are not toxic, but there are a few exceptions that you should be aware of.

If you have any concerns about the safety of your ferns, it is always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian. By taking a few precautions, you can keep your pets safe and enjoy the beauty of your ferns without worry.