While you are likely very careful about feeding your dog, giving it adequate water, exercising it regularly, giving it worm and flea treatments, and taking other steps to keep it safe, it’s important to also consider your backyard security and the way you garden.
Dogs can become ill from ingesting harmful plants or substances in the yard, hurt themselves on sharp objects, and more. Read on for some tips you can follow today to ensure your four-legged friend(s) stays healthy and happy.
What Not to Plant
When it comes to pet safe gardening tips, one of the first things you need to think about is what kind of plants you have in your yard. It’s not something many owners realize, but there are actually many outdoor plants which are incredibly toxic to dogs. Symptoms can include everything from general irritation on affected skin, through to seizures and even death.
Go through your yard to determine if everything already there is safe for your pet, plus, before you buy anything new, find out about its toxicity level. While you should head to the ASPCA website or other reputable source to discover a detailed list of plants toxic to animals, keep in mind that some of the most common ones are sago palm (one of the most deadly to dogs and a cause of severe liver failure), Lily of the Valley (it can, amongst other things, cause severe cardiac arrhythmias), and crocuses (especially the fall crocus, Meadow Saffron, which can lead to multisystem organ failure).
You should also keep an eye out for plants such as azaleas, bougainvillea, aloe vera, rhododendrons, marigold, wisterias, ivy, geraniums, oleanders, lantana, brugmansia, hydrangeas, daffodils, tulips, cyclamen, chrysanthemum, baby’s breath, sweet pea, tomato, and rhubarb.
Avoid Using Harmful Substances in Your Yard
Next, be aware that there are other substances you may use in your yard which can be very dangerous to dogs. For example, if you like to spread mulch around your garden beds to keep plants happy, do your research before choosing a product. Cocoa bean mulch is often used, but it is made from the discarded hulls or shells of the cocoa bean which, like chocolate, contains theobromine and caffeine, two toxins bad for dogs. The chocolate-like smell of this mulch can attract them and encourage them to chow down.
If you’re sick of snails and slugs eating your plants and try to rid your garden of these creatures by way of poisons, remember that the products you buy can also have disastrous results for pets. Most grub or snail killers contain, in particular, metaldehyde which, if consumed by your dog, can cause it to develop tremors and seizures, and for its temperature to shoot upwards very quickly.
Similarly, many people put gopher and mole bait in their backyard to prevent the rodents from chewing on vegies and other plants. However, be careful about doing this, as these baits contain chemical phosphides which can release toxic gas in your pet’s stomach and lead to bloating, vomiting, seizures, or tremors.
If you tend to steer clear of chemicals in your background already, and choose more natural, organic fertilizers to feed your lawn and plants, you should also try to avoid blood and bone meals. These are appetizing to dogs because they’re actually made from ground-up, dried, and flash-frozen animal bones. However, eating a lot of this can cause dogs to get a cement-like blockage in their GI tract which can then end up having to be surgically removed.
Restrict Access to Unsafe Areas and Tools
Lastly, look around your yard to see if there are any areas or tools which could also be unsafe for your dog. A compost heap, for example, might be great for the environment and for your garden, but it can be dangerous to your furry friend. This is because compost is made up of organic materials such as food scraps and other items which your dog’s nose can sniff out.
The problem is, the food waste you put in there might be dangerous for pets to eat, and furthermore, when organic materials sit and grow mold over time, they can produce hazardous mycotoxins which lead to vomiting, tremors, seizures, and other health issues in dogs if ingested. As such, make sure your compost is stored in a secure bin. It should be properly fastened to the ground so it can’t be tipped over, and have a lid your dog won’t be able to open.
Other things to be wary of are backyard pools (not only is drowning a potential hazard, but pool chemicals can harm your dog); sharp objects, such as rakes, trowels, shears, and the like lying around the yard; netting or other objects your dog caught get caught up in and potential be choked by or otherwise injured; and access to your neighbors’ yards, which could contain any of the potential hazards previously mentioned.