As the snow begins to melt and the ground begins to thaw, it will once again be time to start working on our yards and gardens. While gardens are a beautiful addition to your outdoor space, they can also harbor dangerous toxins for your pet. Here are some tips to create a pet-safe garden this spring:
- Baby’s Breath. This flower can wreak havoc on your dog or cat’s digestion, causing gastrointestinal upset, vomiting and diarrhea.
- Daffodil. While Daffodils are a common staple for any springtime garden, you might want to think twice if you have a curious pet! If ingested, Daffodils can cause severe gastrointestinal upset, lethargy, sedation, lack of appetite, convulsions, shivering, abnormally low blood pressure, kidney damage, muscular tremors and irregular heartbeats. To stay safe, Yellow Orchids look very similar and are non-toxic!
- Lily. So many Lily varieties are extremely poisonous to cats. If you’re in doubt, don’t plant any of them! Ingesting even the tiniest bit can cause kidney failure! Oddly, Lilies are non-toxic to dogs. If you have a cat and a love for Lilies, resurrection Lilies are safe to plant.
- Tulip. While they may be beautiful, ingesting their flower or bulb can result in tissue irritation to the esophagus and mouth. Reported symptoms include abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, drooling, and vomiting. Plant these in an area your pet doesn’t have access to!
- Morning Glory. Distinguished by opening its bloom in the morning and closing it again at night, this flower is like LSD for your pets. Ingestion can cause delusions, stupor, or hallucinations. You may also see an increase in aggression, inability to stand or lethargy with excessive panting. Petunias stay open all day and present no harm to dogs or cats.
- Oleander. This pretty bush should come with a warning sign to ward away both humans and animals. Every part, from flower to root, is highly toxic and should be avoided. Ingestion can be fatal. Try planting Ixora instead.
- Cocoa mulch. The theobromine (found in chocolate) and caffeine contained in this mulch can cause adverse reactions in dogs and cats. While many cocoa mulch manufacturers claim to have changed their processing methods to remove these two compounds, the safest route is to avoid it entirely.
- Pine, cedar and hemlock mulch. Choking or allergic reactions are a possibility with these natural wood mulches. Some mulch pieces, if ingested, can also puncture a dog or cat’s stomach lining. If using these mulches, make sure your pet is always supervised!
- Rubber mulch. Similar to the wood mulches, the rubber variety could present a choking hazard! Many of these types claim to be chemical free, but they are far from being natural.
According to Pet Poison Helpline, many fertilizers can cause drooling, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal posture due to abdominal pain, difficulty breathing and “muddy” colored gums.
Fertilizer manufacturers that produce “pet-safe” fertilizer base their safety claims on the absorption speed of the chemicals into your lawn. When heavy rainstorms come, however, some trace amounts of the chemicals may surface.
Regardless of what you use, keep your pet away from any fertilizer until it has been completely worked into your grass so that none of it can be eaten by your dog or cat.
With a little knowledge, caution, and effort, your garden can be both beautiful, blossoming and pet-safe. For a full list of harmful plants and toxins, visit the ASPCA Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants or Pet Poison Helpline website.