Many pet parents love to garden. Unfortunately, however, even the most beautiful and well-tended garden can be dangerous for pets. Aside from obvious threats like pesticides and fertilizers, run-of-the-mill gardens may contain poisonous plants or products that can be dangerous and even deadly for pets. Careful pet owners should keep the following risks in mind as they work on designing and planting a pet-safe garden.
Some plants that humans love can seriously harm their furry companions. Popular plants such as sago palm and azalea can poison cats and dogs if they are ingested, while members of the Cycad family and certain varieties of mushroom may cause catastrophic liver failure or heart problems. Before designing and planting a garden, pet owners should be confident that what they are planting is safe for their pet. If you are unsure, ask a question on LovePets or check with your veterinarian.
Dogs and cats love to nibble at greenery in the garden, but this typically harmless habit can become very dangerous when the plants in question have been dosed with certain types of fertilizers. At the very least, ingesting fertilizer will cause an upset stomach for the pet, with possible vomiting or diarrhea; at the worst, it can easily lead to death. Pet parents who choose to fertilize their gardens should follow the label’s instructions carefully and allow ample time to pass before pets are allowed into the area that had been fertilized. Additionally, pet parents can look into safe fertilizer alternatives, such as compost, manure, or earthworm castings to protect their pets further.
Insecticides pose threats very similar to those presented by fertilizer. Insecticides are toxic, but unfortunately, they often come in edible forms that can be attractive to pets. Snail and fly baits that include metaldehyde are easily ingestible by pets and should be used sparingly and stored in safe areas, such as lockable cupboards or shelves. As a further precaution, pet parents can look into natural pest-control methods that are safe and non-toxic for animals.
Cocoa mulch is popular among gardeners for its weed control properties and handsome appearance. Unfortunately, however, cocoa mulch poses a distinct risk to dogs. Because it is a byproduct of chocolate production, it can cause a range of problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors and seizures if it is eaten in bulk. Pet parents who want to mulch their gardens should consider safer alternatives such as cedar mulch, pine mulch, or hemlock bark. In addition to providing comparable weed retardation, these alternatives are also non-toxic and will not cause the same problems if a young or curious pet happens to ingest them.
A garden is a wonderful way to enjoy fresh flowers and produce, and when done correctly, it can be a safe and beautiful space for the entire family to enjoy, pets included. Although some of the items that pose a threat to pets, such as cocoa mulch and poisonous plants, may not be immediately obvious, it is easy to find safe alternatives that are non-toxic to pets. By keeping these risks in mind, readers can create a beautiful, safe garden that will not pose a threat to pets.
Article reviewed by a veterinarian