Lawn and Garden Safety

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Over the past week I have found myself spending more and more time outdoors as the temperatures rise and the days get longer.  Weekends have been filled with yard work to try and beautify our lawn and (lets be honest here) try to keep alive all the beautiful landscaping that came with the first home we purchased last summer.  I may have been born with ten fingers and ten toes, but I think someone forgot to bless me with the green thumb that seems to have skipped a generation in my family.  However I am doing my best to learn the ins and outs of gardening and landscaping which means I have also been keeping an eye on the products I am using and the plants around my home to insure the safety of my furry children as well as the handful of friendly neighborhood cats.

If you are new to the plant biz (like myself) perhaps you aren’t aware some of the dangers that could befall your four legged furry friends who frequent your yard/garden. There are not only numerous dangerous plants and flowers that are toxic for pets, but there are other things you need to be aware of if you want to have a safe and happy spring:

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  1. Toxic Plants:  As you’re coming up with plans for your beautiful new garden, steer clear of plants that are known to be toxic to pets. A few popular spring choices to avoid include the Azalea, Tiger Lily (and most Lilies in general, like Calla Lilies), Crocus, Amarylis, Carnations, Cresanthemums, and the Tulip. Other plants to watch out for include most types of Aloe, select palms such as the Sago, Begonias, most types of Laurel, select Ivy and Fern varieties, and even some Pine trees!

    Be advised that certain plants may seem harmless, but actually have harmful parts that can prove fatal if your pet ingests them, such as Pine tree needles and cones, Daffodil bulbs (or any bulb plant), Jade leaves, etc. As a rule of thumb, if a plant is waxy or has waxy parts to it, it is DEFINITELY dangerous for your pet to consume! It is especially dangerous that some plants such as Palm and Pine trees drop harmful seeds, needles, flowers, etc. because these parts fall onto the ground, where it is in the perfect place for your pet to eat it or chew it up.

    If you choose to have one of these plants in your garden, or it is already there and difficult/impossible to remove the plant, do NOT leave your pet unattended in your garden! If possible, put some sort of barrier around the offending plants, or even coat the plants in a pet-deterrent such as Bitter Apple or Bitter Lime. Take the utmost caution so that your pet does NOT suffer for your garden’s beauty!

    To be absolutely certain that your garden is pet-safe, click here for the ASPCA’s complete list of toxic plants

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  2. Baits/Fertilizers:  Snail and rodent baits may be helpful in keeping unwanted pests out of your yard, but these products are also extremely dangerous for pets. Bait toxicity can be fatal, causing blood clotting disorders, brain swelling, or kidney failure. Herbicides, pesticides, insecticides, weed killers, and other garden substances (even if they are all-natural) could cause pet poisoning – especially if your pet licks its paws very often.Depending on the ingredients, ingestion of fertilizers can cause a variety of symptoms, ranging from gastrointestinal irritation to seizures and death. Fish fertilizer, blood/bone meal and cocoa mulch are highly toxic to pets, so seek immediate veterinary care of you suspect your pet has ingested a dangerous substance.A good rule of thumb is to apply any of these products when your pet is secluded indoors and wait several hours for allowing them back in the yard after application.  Watching to ensure your pet is not chewing on grass/weeds in the yard and wiping off paws with a baby wipe after being outside will reduce the risk of intoxication of any of these products.
  3. Lawn Ornaments: Finally, if your pets love to chew, be careful about what kind of decorations you display in your garden or lawn. Dogs are known to try and eat or chew anything they can get their paws on, and NOTHING is exempt from this rule. Dogs seem to have an affinity for decorative rocks, and mulch and can even use your garden gnome as a chew toy, or ingest small objects from that “fairy garden” your kids created. Assume that your dog could and would eat anything, and then plan your lawn or garden display accordingly.

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As long as you are hyper vigilant about all of the possible hazards that your garden and yard could entail (there’s a lot of them, so keeping a list could be handy), you’ll be able to relax and be worry-free about your pet enjoying the yard. Pets should be supervised when they are in your yard anyway, even if you have a fence – you never know what or WHO could sneak up on your dog when they least expect it!

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Author: SportsVet AMC

Welcome to SportsVet Animal Medical Center's veterinary blog! Every member of our team is dedicated to building, supporting, and maintaining positive and rewarding relationships between pets and their owners. Our veterinary focus is on enhancing life, optimizing function, and maximizing performance for every patient. We will periodically be posting about veterinary healthcare, helpful tips, important facts about your beloved pet, and every topic in between. Have a topic that you are particularly interested in, and want to know more? Contact us to request a blog post directly from our team!

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