Are Orchids poisonous to cats and dogs?
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Orchids are not poisonous to cats and dogs
If you have pets, it’s right to be concerned if orchids are poisonous to cats and dogs. And here’s a quick answer – the orchid plant is not poisonous to cats and dogs. In fact, the orchid flowers are edible and are used in cooking, health and wellness in many cultures. (See Are orchids edible? for more information.) What you do need to be aware of, though, is the potting mix that the orchids grow in.
But beware of the orchid potting mix may be the real problem
Orchids for the home do not grow in regular soil. They’re air plants that grow on other plants, trees and rocks in the tropical forest in the wild. As such, the potting mix they need is a mixture of organic substances. These may include bark, coconut coir, sphagnum moss, clay and perlite. Not all of these items are pet friendly. Some may contain chemicals that can cause distress to cats and dogs.
What may be poisonous to cats and dogs when they chew on your orchid may come from the substances in the potting mix. See my article Do orchids need special soil? This has an overview of the ingredients you’re most likely to find in a commercial orchid potting mix you buy from garden centres and nurseries. Remove any dyed or chemically treated ingredients. The article also helps you if you want to prepare the potting mix yourself so that you know exactly what’s in it.
There’s probably bark in your potting mix. It may be redwood wood, and that’s known to cause rashes in humans and pets. While not poisonous, it is irritating. Look out also for large Styrofoam chunks (perlite) in your potting mix. Puppies and kittens don’t have the teeth yet to bite this substance so they tear off chunks with their mouth. This constitutes a choking hazard. Again, not poisonous, but dangerous all the same.
Watch out for dye orchids
Be careful also of orchids that are non-natural colours. You may have fallen in love with an orchid that’s just the most amazing dark blue colour. Recognise that it’s tinted as no shade in nature comes close to that blue colour. Unless the blurb that comes with the orchid tells you what’s in the dye, you just don’t know the effect it has on your pet if they start licking it.
On another topic, did you know you can use orchids in cooking dishes? Learn more here