Poisonous Plants and Other Backyard Concerns — How to Protect Your Pet From Hidden Garden Dangers

Pet owners are more attentive to their pets' health than ever before, with 95% of respondents making their pets’ vet care a priority in 2021. However, when it comes to the hidden dangers of your own yard — specifically your garden — knowing the risks and what you can do to proactively protect your dog is essential in maintaining their health. From poisonous plants to be aware of to additional outdoor risks that can pose a threat to your dog, here’s how you can effectively ensure that your backyard is a safe space for Fido to run and play.

Getting familiar with poisonous plants

When looking to make your garden safer for your dog, understanding the risks out there is the first step. To begin, there are a number of plants out there that can cause adverse health reactions in your dog, despite being typical garden stapes. For example, the American Kennel Club notes that such plants include daffodils, foxglove, geranium, and chrysanthemum, to name just a few. To highlight the weight of  the danger involved, each plant has varying effects — for instance, while chrysanthemum isn’t lethal, it’s noted that “eating any part of the plant can result in vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, skin rashes, and loss of coordination.” On the other hand, the ingestion of foxglove can cause cardiac failure and may even result in death. AKC further goes on to explain that ingesting any part of the daffodil plant (though especially the bulb) can cause severe vomiting, drooling, tremors, respiratory distress, convulsions, and heart problems, while the symptoms of ingesting geranium include low blood pressure, skin rashes, lethargy, and loss of appetite. 

Additional risks to keep in mind

While the presence of certain plants can make for a major hidden danger in gardens of dog owners, there are other, additional risks to keep in mind regarding the garden. For example, HGTV notes that water features such as a pond or pool (like a large koi pond) can present a danger to smaller animals. Other risks, such as garden tools left out can result in an unexpected trip to the vet should a dropped rake, garden fork or other tool result in cuts to the paws. HGTV further goes on to mention the risks involved with using cocoa mulch, stating “Cocoa bean shells contain a potentially lethal ingredient, theobromine. It has a chocolatey-smell that many pets like, tempting them to eat it,” further stating “the ASPCA recommends that you substitute a less toxic mulch, like shredded pine bark, and keep an eye on your animals if they’re around mulched plants or garden beds.” 

What you can do to protect your pup 

When ensuring your pet’s safety out in the garden, there are a number of solutions worth putting into action. While ensuring that your garden tools are always put away and replacing any problematic mulch and deep pond/water features with fountains can all make for simple precautions to take, making use of artificial grass can aid in easily keeping weeds at bay in larger garden spaces. When looking to address any poisonous plants in your garden, doing so can be done by first restricting access to the space, especially if you aren’t sure what plants you have. With that in mind, boxing off your garden with a fence is a great way to take immediate action, and will allow you enough time to survey all of the plants. From there, replacing poisonous plants with dog-friendly options can be done. With options such as wheatgrass (which can be beneficial to your dog’s gut health) and colorful, dog-safe pansies, you can effectively create a garden that is safe for your dog and visibly pleasing, too.

While many may not think twice about having a garden loaded with a variety of plants in their backyard, there are a number of hidden dangers and risks to be aware of. From addressing poisonous plants to taking other precautions, such as keeping tools put away, you can ensure that your backyard is a safe and fun environment for your dog to run and play.

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