Are Croton Plants Pet Friendly?

Crotons contain toxic diterpenes in all parts of the plant, from the leaves to the stems and flowers too. This compound is toxic when ingested by any pets, causing swelling and irritation. The milky sap can also irritate the skin, so it’s best to wear gloves when handling the plant. Keep it away from all pets and children to avoid contact and accidental ingestion.

Are Croton Plants Pet Friendly? (Essential Guide)

Are Crotons Toxic?

Croton variegatum contains a chemical compound called 5-deoxyingenol, also known as diterpenes. This is present in all parts of the plant, from the leaves to the stems and even the seeds. The compound is toxic to humans and animals, causing swelling, blistering, and irritation.

This compound is also present in the milky sap within the stems and leaves. When pruning, propagating, or repotting, you may notice this sap irritates the skin and can cause a rash, particularly in those with sensitive skin.

Which Pets Are At Risk Of Croton Poisoning?

A cat sleeping next to a colorful croton plant

All pets are at risk of Croton poisoning, particularly those attracted to colorful foliage.


Cats are known to curiously nibble on the foliage or dig around the soil, taking small bites out of the leaves as they go. While the milky sap can ward them off quickly, it tends to stick to their fur, which they try to remove by licking, only worsening the problem.


Curious dogs are also at risk, particularly if they tend to chew on stems. Older dogs often tend to stay away or ignore the plants, but curious and energetic puppies are certainly ones to worry about. Ingestion can cause mouth irritation and swelling, while merely touching the sap can result in a rash on the paws and skin.

Small Animals

Other small animals, though usually not easily in contact with these towering plants, need to be watched. Birds, in particular, are a problem as even a small piece bitten off one of these large leaves can cause major digestive issues.

This plant is even toxic to humans, causing swelling, vomiting, and a range of other symptoms. It’s vital to keep the plant away from children, especially if it’s flowering, as the berries can be deadly when ingested. Always wear gloves when handling the plant to stop the sap from irritating the skin.

What Are The Signs Of Croton Poisoning?

A cluster of exotic looking croton plants

Signs of ingestion often begin at the plant. If you notice a disturbance around your plant, such as dirt on the floor, make sure to inspect the leaves for any suspicious marks. Bites or any large pieces removed from the leaves or stems are the first cause for concern.

In pets, irritation will often begin with a rash caused by the milky sap within the plant. If the sap or any parts of the leaves were ingested, this will be followed by the signs of mouth irritation in pets – drooling and pawing at the face.

In more severe cases, your pet may lose its appetite completely due to stomach irritation. This can result in nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, particularly in cats. Skin symptoms can also worsen, turning into patches of dry skin, acne, or eczema.

Any behavior change is another sign that something is not quite right. Pets can become unusually tired or unmotivated when they are ill. They may avoid eating, drinking, or overall interaction, indicating a problem to resolve.

What To Do If Your Pet Ingests Croton

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take your pet to the vet as soon as possible. With the proper tests, they will be able to determine how much of the harmful toxin was ingested and provide suitable treatment before the problem worsens.

It’s best to inspect the plant before you go to describe how much of it you suspect was ingested. You can also carry a leaf with you so the vet knows exactly which plant they are dealing with. Keep track of the symptoms, when they started and how long they have persisted to provide a full picture of the progression of the problem.

How To Keep Pets Away From Crotons

A small potted croton plant in a ceramic plant pot on a side table near a window indoors

The best way to stop your pets from ingesting any parts of the plant is simply not to keep them at all, opting for pet-friendly plants instead. However, if you’re committed to becoming a fierce Croton plant parent, you can keep them out of reach in a few ways.

The first option is to position croton plants off the floor or away from surfaces that your pets spend a lot of time on. Using a plant stand or large hanging basket works for dogs, while cats may need more maneuvering and prevention to stop them from reaching the foliage. You can also keep the Croton in a separate room that your pets are not allowed in, along with all your other dangerous houseplants.

Beyond keeping them out of reach, you can use a few hacks to deter them. Commercial products are available that stop pets from coming near the plant by producing a smell they don’t like. Citrus peels can perform the same task for cats and dogs, as they generally stay away from the intense scent.

Finally, you can attempt to train your pets to stay away from the plants. Spray them with water any time they go near the plant and reward them for avoiding it. Combined with a few other deterrents, this will ensure your pets are safe and toxin-free.

You might also consider regularly pruning your Croton plant to keep it in check and manageable in terms of size. 

Wrap Up

Crotons are unfortunately unsafe for pets or children, especially for curious hands or paws. However, if you can keep the plants out of reach or train them to stay away, you can keep your Croton around without worry.

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