Are Bonsai Trees Poisonous to Cats and Dogs?

As a pet owner, it is important to understand that there are certain plants that can be quite dangerous for your little furry loved ones. To ensure your home is a safe space for your animals, you may want to do some research on which plants could be toxic or even poisonous.

To find out if a bonsai tree is poisonous to a cat or dog, you will first need to find out which species of bonsai tree you have or want to take home. Since bonsai are miniature versions of actual trees, it will depend on the species.

The good news is, we’ve written everything you need to know about the many variations of bonsai trees, including which ones are poisonous to cats and dogs, which are not, a little more about the trees themselves, and of course, how to keep your cats and dogs safe around them.

What Are Bonsai Trees?

Bonsai Tree

Before we talk about which bonsai trees are poisonous, it is important to understand exactly what bonsai trees really are

People are often confused when they learn that a bonsai is not an actual type of tree, but is in fact a style in which you grow your plant. Bonsai trees are miniature versions of other larger trees and require great care, attention, and constant pruning. 

The art of cultivating bonsai trees originated in China, however, it has become incredibly popular throughout Japan as a form of meditation and artistry. 

If you want to enjoy this wonderful pastime and have a bonsai tree in your home, there are hundreds of varieties to choose from, so let’s find out which options are available, and most importantly, which of these options are safe for your pets. 

Species of Bonsai Trees

As you now know, a bonsai tree is simply a miniature tree, and therefore, you can choose to have a bonsai tree in a variety of species.

While we are not going to go through every possible type of bonsai tree in this article, as it would be far too long to read, we will break down which species are poisonous to animals and a few popular options that are safe to have in the home. 

Which Bonsai Trees Are Poisonous to Cats?

Bonsai Tree and Cat

As a cat owner, you have probably noticed that kitties like to get into all kinds of mischief! Chewing on plants may just be one of your cat’s favorite games, or it may not happen very often, but either way, it is definitely possible and so it is important that you do not have any poisonous plants in your home. 

Types of bonsai trees that are either poisonous or toxic to cats include: 

  • Sago palm: this species is the most toxic to cats, if ingested, they most likely only have a 50% chance of survival. 
  • Azalea
  • Fig
  • Pine
  • Cherry
  • Jade
  • Australian Ivy Palm
  • Ambrosia Mexicana
  • Giant Dracaena
  • Fern Palm
  • Buddhist Pine
  • Apricot
  • Norfolk Island Pine
  • Australian Pine
  • Cardboard Palm
  • Coontie Palm 

This list is not all-inclusive. If you are thinking of getting a bonsai tree or already have one, and it is not on this list, you should still do your research to find out if it is safe to have in your home. Check this extensive list from ASPCA where you may find if your plant is toxic to cats.

Which Bonsai Trees Are Poisonous to Dogs?

While dogs are not usually as curious and certainly not as agile as cats, they can still easily get into your plants and make themselves very sick if it is poisonous. For that reason, it is essential that you know which bonsai trees are poisonous to dogs to ensure you do not have them in your house or even in your yard.

  • Japanese Juniper
  • Apricot
  • Ambrosia Mexicana
  • Australian Ivy Palm
  • Ficus
  • Cherry
  • Umbrella Trees
  • Norfolk Island Pine
  • Boxwood
  • Buddhist Pine
  • Jade – Crassula Argenta

Once again, it is important to look at each individual type of bonsai tree that you either have or are looking into purchasing to ensure they are safe for your dogs, but these options are certainly toxic and should not be in reach of your canines. 

It is also important to note that some of these trees are more toxic than others. While some may simply induce a mild skin irritation, others can be fatal. As we have mentioned, it is so very paramount that you do extensive research on the plant before placing it in the same home as your pet.

Check this extensive list of toxic and non-toxic plants to dogs, from ASPCA.

Which Bonsai Trees Are Safe For Your Pets?

Money Tree Bonsai

Okay, so that was the bad news. But the good news is, if you are very interested in the artistry of bonsai trees, there are several options that you can enjoy that are also non-toxic and completely safe for your pets to be around and even ingest. 

  • Parlor PalmChamaedorea elegans
  • Money TreePachira aquatica
  • Australian Pine Araucaria heterophylla
  • Red MapleAcer Rubrum
  • Ponytail PalmBeaucarnea recurvata
  • Japenese Maple – Acer Palmatum

And that’s not all! There are even more bonsai tree variations that are completely safe for your cats and dogs is an almost neverending list of trees that can be planted as bonsai trees, just remember to do your research first.

Even if you do have a bonsai tree that the internet has labeled non-toxic for animals, if for some reason you think that your pet is experiencing toxicity due to a bonsai tree or even any other plant, you will certainly want to know what the signs are and how to treat them. 

What Are the Signs of Plant Poisoning in Cats and Dogs?

Of course, we understand that toxicity poisoning can make ourselves, and our animals very sick, but you may want to understand a little more about what is in the plant that can make your furry family members unwell. 

In some plants, including the several types of bonsai trees we have listed, there is a chemical in the plants called cycasin which can cause liver failure when ingested. Certain types of plants, including the sago palms and jade plants are cycads, meaning they contain this particular toxin. 

Apart from the scientific information, it is vital that you know how to look out for signs that your pet is suffering from cycasin poisoning. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drooling
  • Skin irritation 
  • Jaundice
  • Slow heart rate
  • Excessive panting
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Abdominal pain

Even if you do see one of these signs, it does not necessarily mean your pet has been poisoned by your plant, they could simply be sick. 

If you do notice that your animal is struggling, you should check your bonsai tree for chew marks or missing leaves. 

Even if you’re not one hundred percent sure that your animal has eaten a poisonous bonsai tree, you should still check in with your vet if they start experiencing any of these symptoms, especially if you have a bonsai tree that your animal could be getting into. 

How to Treat Poisoning in Your Cat or Dog

We absolutely recommend contacting your veterinarian as soon as possible if you think your animal has ingested a poisonous plant, however, there are some things you can do to help your pet before you make it to medical assistance.

First, make sure that any remaining bits of the tree are removed from their mouths, then try to wash out the mouth as best you can with water. 

Take photos of the tree so you can identify what type of toxins your animal may have ingested. And then, you should stay with your pet to monitor their symptoms. 

Unfortunately, there is a high chance that this toxicity can seriously harm your animal, but if you are proactive, a medical professional may be able to treat the problem with antibiotics or pumping your animal’s stomach and therefore, save your animal from sickness or death. 

How to Keep a Bonsai Tree Away From Your Pet

If you have decided to have both a bonsai tree and a pet, we highly recommend ensuring that the tree is completely non-toxic to your animals. However, if you do decide that you need a certain bonsai tree that can be toxic to your dogs or cats, you need to be sure they will not be able to get to it in order to keep them safe. 

Where to Keep a Bonsai Tree Away from a Dog

When it comes to dogs, it is a little easier to find a safe place for your bonsai tree as they cannot jump and climb. 

Hanging your plants or placing them on a high shelf should do the trick. 

Where to Keep a Bonsai Tree Away from Your Cat

Unfortunately, with cats, it is a little more challenging. As you may already know, cats are quite adventurous, and they can certainly get into knooks and cranies around your home, including high shelves.

If fact, we recommend not keeping possibly poisonous bonsai trees in your house at all if you have a cat. If your cat also lives outside, you may want to build a small greenhouse to make sure both your plants and cats are protected.

Let’s Recap: Are Bonsai Trees Poisonous to Cats and Dogs?

We have learned quite a bit about bonsai trees, including which varieties may and may not poison you cats and dogs. 

If this feels like too much information, the most important bit of knowledge you should remember is that you need to research a specific plant, whether a standard house plant or a bonsai tree, before letting your pet live in a home with it as many are either slightly or incredibly poisonous to cats and dogs.

Many trees and plants are in fact toxic to humans and animals alike, however, as adults, we know not to ingest tiny trees. Animals do not have that luxury, and so we, as their caretakers, need to ensure that they will not make themselves sick with anything we have in our homes. 

It can be frustrating to have to do so much extensive research and planning, but bonsai trees and animals are both wonderful additions to your life, so a little research is definitely worth it for your happiness and your pet’s health!