Gardening and Pets
By, Dr. Angela Damant, B. Sc., D. V. M.
As you say goodbye to April showers and get ready for May flowers, your pets are probably all too happy to lend a helping paw. Be aware that many of the things that help to make your garden beautiful can be toxic to your furry friends.
Insecticides. These are used to reduce the number of damaging insects. Some can be highly toxic to dogs and cats.
Herbicides. These are used to reduce weed growth. They can cause poisonings if ingested and can burn foot pads and noses if your pet comes in contact with them.
Fertilizers. These help to make plants and lawns grow. They are toxic if ingested. Bone and fish meal are especially tasty to pets.
Rodent Baits. Several rat and mouse products are available which our pets find yummy. Most of these contain brodifacoum or bromadiolone, which is extremely poisonous to pets. The carcasses of animals killed with these baits are also fatally toxic.
Snail and slug baits. These are frequently used, and if ingested, cause serious and, potentially deadly, seizures.
Citronella candles. They are used to deter mosquitoes but may cause gastrointestinal inflammation in dogs, resulting in vomiting and diarrhea.
Mulch. Most are safe except for cacao bean mulch which is made from the hulls of cacao beans. Ingestion can result in chocolate toxicity.
Compost. Compost starts off as rotting food which can be attractive to dogs and cats. Unfortunately, the mold that can grow on compost is quite toxic.
Plants. Steer clear of plants that are known to be poisonous to pets. A few popular spring choices to avoid include Azaleas, Lilies, Crocuses, and Amaryllises. Other plants to watch out for include most types of Aloe, palms such as the Sago, Begonias, most types of Laurel, select Ivy and Fern varieties, and Grapes. Keep in mind that many plants may drop harmful seeds, needles, fruits, flowers, etc. and your pet can eat them off the ground. If one of these plants is already in your yard you could place a barrier around it, or repeatedly coat the plant in a deterrent such as Bitter Apple.
Watch out for unexpected guests. There are a bunch of other yard hazards to look out for. One of these dangers is fungi, such as mushrooms which are toxic if ingested. Mold or mildew, inside or out, is poisonous too. Insects such as Black Widow spiders, Brown Recluse spiders, wasps and bees can bite or sting your pet. Don’t leave out any kind of food that could attract small mammals like raccoons because you never know what kind of an altercation your pet can get into!
Re-think your lawn and garden ornaments. If your pets love to chew, be careful about what kind of decorations you display in your garden or lawn. I have heard of dogs eating light fixtures, gnomes, stones, pinwheels, statues, flags, and also chewing parts of fences!
Plan ahead. Remember to keep lawn and garden products stored in a place that your pet cannot enter. During application of these products, keep your dog and cat confined in a safe area. Should exposure to any of these products occur, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
For a list of products and plants that are toxic visit the ASPCA Pet Poison Website.
With a bit of planning, you can have both a happy garden and a happy pet. Now get out there and enjoy the sun!
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.