Tails magazine presents...

Pet proof your yard

In Animal News on May 18, 2010 at 8:28 pm

From planting new flowers and laying out that vegetable patch to getting rid of those pesky weeds and bugs, people are revitalizing lawns and gardens that were dormant during the winter.  However, those with pets need to be extra vigilant about what the backyard will expose dogs or cats to throughout the warmer months.

Pet caretakers should be conscious of every item that is placed in an area where their pet has access.  The type of mulch that is used, the species of flowers that are planted and, of course, the fertilizers, weed killers and pesticides/insecticides that are sprayed or put down all need to be taken into consideration.

Veterinarians recommend staying away from cocoa mulch because it contains theobromine, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors and seizures.

It is also suggested to keep plants and flowers such as sago palm, rhododendrons, azaleas, lilies, tulips and any others in those families in an area of your yard where you pet will not be able to reach them.  These have been shown to cause respiratory depression, tissue irritation, gastrointestinal bleeding and even organ failure.

Fertilizers, weed killers and pesticides are the most common cause for poisonings and the most dangerous.  These have been known to cause severe internal problems for animals if ingested or if your pet has been exposed to them.  Paraquat, a common weed killer in fertilizer, is known to be lethal to dogs and has even been linked to canine cancer.  Other herbicides have been shown to be a contributing factor to the onset of liver, bladder and lymphatic cancer.

Be sure to wait the appropriate amount of time after any chemical application before allowing your pet back on the grass or near the flowers.

Another important note to remember is that while you may be mindful of what you put on your lawn, others in your neighborhood may not.  Dogs will often lick paws after walking through fertilizer or weed killer, so it is important to thoroughly wash their feet and undersides to avoid contamination after a stroll around the block.

For more information on safe alternatives and other lawn and garden dangers, please visit PetPoisonHelpline.com or ASPCA.org/Pet-Care/Poison-Control. –Brendan Quealy

  1. Any suggestions on what type of fence to build to pets (dogs, primarily) in the yard. My yard is clear of any pet-unfriendly plants, but the woods beyond the yard – not so much.

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