Safe Space

Protecting Pets in Your Garden

Courtesy of Family Features

If you have pets that enjoy spending time outdoors, it’s important to make sure your yard is a safe place for them to be.


Consider these hazards that can negatively impact the well-being of your furry friends.

Poisonous Plants

Some common plants can be dangerous for animals, causing anything from mild oral irritations and upset stomachs to cardiovascular damage and even death. For example, these are some of the toxic plants the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has identified as harmful for either cats or dogs:

Aloe – can cause vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, anorexia, and depression

Azalea – can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation, weakness, coma, cardiovascular collapse, and death

Burning bush – can cause vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and weakness, as well as heart rhythm abnormalities with large doses

Caladium – can cause burning and irritation of the mouth, tongue, and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing

Daylilies – can cause kidney failure in cats

Hibiscus – can cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and anorexia

Mulch and Compost

The decomposing elements that make compost good can be bad for pets, according to the National Garden Society. Keep compost in a secure container or fenced-off area so pets can’t get to it. Cocoa mulch can be a particular problem for dogs. A byproduct of chocolate production, cocoa mulch can cause digestive issues and even seizures in dogs. Shredded pine or cedar mulch is a safer choice.

Fertilizer and Insecticides

The chemicals used to get rid of pests or make your lawn lush can be toxic to pets. Some of the most dangerous pesticides include snail bait with metaldehyde, fly bait with methomyl, systemic insecticides with disyston or disulfoton, mole or gopher bait with zinc phosphide, and most forms of rat poison, according to the ASPCA. Follow all instructions carefully, and store pesticides and fertilizers in a secure area out of the reach of animals.

Fleas and Ticks

In addition to using appropriate flea and tick prevention methods such as collars and sprays, make sure your yard isn’t a welcoming environment for these pests. Keep the lawn trimmed and remove brush and detritus, where fleas and ticks often lurk. Fleas can cause hair loss, scabs, excessive scratching, tapeworms, and anemia. Ticks can do all of that, plus bring you and your family in contact with diseases like Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease.

If you believe your animal may have ingested a poisonous substance, contact your local veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour emergency poison hotline at (888) 426-4435.

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