Dogs and cats alike will nibble and ingest green grass blades during the spring and summer months when availability and growth is plentiful. This behavior has been linked to boredom, curiosity, even nutritional necessity. Whatever the reason your pet decides to dine on greens, it becomes an important issue as the weather changes, the availability of grass is non-existent, pets spend more time indoors, and your houseplants start looking very tasty.

An excellent resource to determine if your indoor houseplants are safe (if accidentally eaten by your pet) is the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – The site contains an extensive list of indoor and outdoor plants which contain toxins harmful to animals. Another factor to consider is the potting mix used in the container for the plants. The newer soil mixes contain wetting agents and slow release fertilizer which may make animals sick if ingested. The same is true if the plant was treated with a systemic insecticide, or sprayed with products to control diseases and insects, ingesting treated leaves could create intestinal problems for your pet.

Some alternatives include planting edible herbs and grasses intended only for the animals enjoyment, or make the houseplants unappealing (in taste) as a deterrent. If they have a choice between a plant that tastes awful and one that tastes good, instinct and taste buds will pick the one that tastes good. Placing lemon rinds in the dirt deters cats-they don’t like the scent. Or, once a week for a training period of two or three months, spray the leaves with a foul-tasting formula that’s safe for plants (i.e. Bitter Apple spray). As a last resort, if houseplant eating continues, removal of the plant from the room/house might be necessary.