Thursday, March 31, 2011

More dog safety in the garden

I've written a couple of posts about pets in our gardens, primarilly about how the chemicals we use in our landscapes can harm our pets. In fact, according to WebMD, poisoning is one of the Top Ten Dog and Cat Injuries.

But my friend and fellow blogger Susan McCullough, author of the popular Northern Virginia Dog Blog, pointed something out to me that many gardeners don't think about: there are many other things in our gardens that can hurt our pets, including poisonous plants, mulch and what we put in our compost piles.

Many dog owners know that certain foods are unhealthy for dogs and keep them out of Fido's reach in the kitchen. But these same foods may end up in the compost pile where curious canines are sure to sniff them out.

Here are some excerpts from the great article Susan sent me entitled: ASPCA Guide to Pet-Safe Gardening.

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) experts field tens of thousands of calls each year involving animal companions who’ve had potentially hazardous contact with insecticides, weed killers and pet-toxic plants. 

"Keeping animals safe from accidental poisonings should not end once you've stepped outside," says Dana Farbman, APCC pet poison prevention expert. "Protecting your pet from potential hazards in your yard is just as critical." 

While gardens and yards are lovely for relaxing, they can also prove dangerous for our animal companions.

Poisonous Plants 
When designing and planting your green space, it's a good idea to keep in mind that many popular outdoor plants—including rhododendron and azalea—are toxic to cats and dogs. Please visit our full list—and pics!—of toxic and non-toxic plants for your garden. 

Pet parents, take care—the fertilizer that keeps our plants healthy and green can wreak havoc on the digestive tracts of our furry friends. 

Cocoa Mulch 
Popular for its attractive odor and color, cocoa mulch also attracts dogs with its sweet smell, and like chocolate, it can pose problems for our canine companions. 

The most dangerous forms of pesticides include snail bait with metaldehyde, fly bait with methomyl, systemic insecticides with the ingredients disyston or disulfoton, mole or gopher bait with zinc phosphide and most forms of rat poisons. Always store pesticides in inaccessible areas—and read the manufacturer's label carefully for proper usage and storage. 

You're doing the right thing for your garden and Mother Earth—you're composting! Food and garden waste make excellent additions to garden soil, but depending on what you're tossing in the compost bin, they can also pose problems for our pets. Coffee, moldy food and certain types of fruit and vegetables are toxic to dogs and cats, so read up on people foods to avoid feeding your pet

Garden Tools 
Unattended garden tools may seem like no big deal, but rakes, tillers, hoes and trowels can be hazardous to pets and cause trauma to paws, noses or other parts of a curious pet's body. Rusty, sharp tools caked in dirt may also pose a risk for tetanus if they puncture skin. 

Allergy-Causing Flora 
Like their sneezy human counterparts, pets have allergies to foods, dust and even plants. Allergic reactions in dogs and cats can even cause life-threatening anaphylactic shock if the reaction is severe. If you do suspect your pet has an allergy, please don't give him any medication that isn't prescribed by a veterinarian. It's also smart to keep your pet out of other people's yards, especially if you're unsure of what kinds of plants or flowers lurk there. Keeping your pet off the lawn of others will make for healthy pets and happy neighbors.

Be sure and read the whole article from the ASPCA, as it contains much more great information for pets. And now that you know about the Northern Virginia Dog Blog, head on over there when you are out there sniffing around for something new to dig into.


  1. It is a great idea to fence off a compost heap from a dog. I learned the hard way, years ago when my dog gorged on compost, with the inevitable results on the living room rug. We were lucky, that's all that happened. I have had my compost fenced off from my dog (and wandering neighbor dogs) since.

  2. Very informative and interesting post. It should be one of the things to keep in mind when doing your garden or landscaping. It's also something to discuss if with your contractor when have your landscape done by pros.

  3. Thanks for the tips. There's a few things in there that I hadn't even considered. The full list of poisonous plants was very helpful.

  4. Thanks for the info, I have a 2 month old English Bulldog and plan do fixing up the back garden for him so really helpful info. Thanks.


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