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How to Create a Pet Friendly Garden

One of the few things I actually like about summer is gardening. I love watching the progress plants make from germination to full bloom. It’s magical. This year I took extra care to make sure I had an animal safe garden. There are so many commonly used products that are toxic to pets that knowing what to use and what not to use is important. 

Here are some of the most common garden dangers to avoid for a pet friendly garden. 

how to create a pet friendly garden

Cocoa Mulch:

One of the most common garden dangers for dogs is cocoa mulch. Though it is known for its rich chocolate-brown color and nutritional benefits for soil, it is toxic to dogs. It contains cocoa bean shells and various chemicals that can make a dog sick if ingested.

Cocoa mulch ingestion can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, muscle tremors, weakness, seizures, or death. While cocoa mulch may look and smell appealing, dog owners may want to choose a safer alternative such as dirt, stones, or mulch made from shredded pine, cedar, or hemlock bark.

Commercial and Natural Fertilizers:

Commercial fertilizers and weed killers may provide nutrition for plants; however, they contain harmful chemicals that are toxic to dogs. When fertilizers are sprinkled on the lawn or garden, dogs may accidentally consume these chemicals after running outside and then grooming themselves. Even if consumed in small amounts, fertilizers can cause issues, so you want to keep your pet away from fertilizers altogether.

Use pet-friendly (not just organic) fertilizers or pesticides when possible, and always store them in hard-to-reach places, such as a locked tool shed or on a garage shelf. Signs that your dog consumed fertilizer include drooling, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, tremors, and seizures. Keep in mind: Organic or “natural” fertilizers often contain various “meal” leftovers from the farming or meat industries, such as bone meal, blood meal, feather meal, and fish meal, that are unhealthy for dogs’ digestive systems. 

Plants and Flowers:

Some well-known and loved flowers can be harmful to pets if ingested. The following common plants are poisonous to them:

  • Lilies – Lilies are extremely toxic to cats. Ingesting any part of the lily, even a few grains of pollen can cause your cat to develop fatal kidney failure.
  • Daffodils – Daffodils are highly toxic to dogs. If ingested by a dog, symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, convulsions, and a drop in blood pressure may arise.
  • Tulips – Tulips are one of the most common garden flowers, but they contain toxins that can make a dog ill. The bulb is the most harmful part. Symptoms of tulip ingestion in dogs include excessive drooling, nausea, and irritation in the mouth.
  • Azaleas – Azaleas can be fatal if ingested by your canine companion. Symptoms include digestive problems, such as vomiting and diarrhea, and low blood pressure.
  • Autumn Crocus – The autumn crocus is known for pretty purple and fuchsia flowers that blossom in the spring. But this colorful member of the lily family causes a burning feeling in a dog’s mouth. Other symptoms include digestive distress, liver and kidney damage, and heart complications. The highest levels of toxicity are found in the bulbs.
  • Oleander – Oleander cardiac glycosides, which can be fatal to dogs. Signs that a dog has consumed oleander include muscle tremor, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea.
  • Amaryllis – The amaryllis flower is filled with toxins that can induce vomiting in dogs. Other symptoms include depression, excessive drooling, anorexia, and tremors.
  • Sago Palm – While sago palm may look like a simple green, leafy plant, it’s actually highly toxic to dogs. This common plant, which grows outdoors or indoors, can cause bloody vomiting, bleeding disorders, diarrhea, liver failure and death.
  • Mushrooms – Though these may not grow intentionally, occasionally, they pop up in lawns and gardens. While many are harmless, there are some mushrooms that can be dangerous or even deadly if consumed by your pets. The Amanita family of mushrooms is one of the more commonly found, harmful mushrooms. This family includes the “death cap” and gives off a fishy odor, making them tempting to dogs. Other dangerous mushrooms include the Lepiota and Galerina families.
how to create a pet friendly garden

It is important to always actively supervise your dog outdoors. If your pet ingests a harmful toxin in the garden, seek emergency veterinary care immediately. If you know that they ate something harmful, bring a sample of it with you. 

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