Three of the top 10 toxins in the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (ASPCA) pet poisoning data for 2017 were garden-related items: insecticides (number seven), plants (number nine), and “garden products” more broadly (number 10). Clearly, it’s important to make sure your garden is free of these toxins and other potential dangers to your dog.
Now, with number nine including houseplants as well, gardens are certainly not the only danger. But, since our dogs tend to have more unsupervised free time out in the yard, garden safety must be a priority for dog owners.
Avoiding Toxic Plants
Insecticides and garden products, such as fertilizers and herbicides, usually come with warnings about dog health. So, be sure to look out for those warnings and choose pet-safe alternatives. If you’re not sure or if you have to use a product that isn’t pet safe, be sure to take measures to prevent your dog from getting to the areas in which they’ve been used.
Plants can be a little more tricky. They’re less likely to be labelled as unsafe for dogs and many are attractive to animals, too. Thankfully, the ASPCA has a searchable database of plants that are toxic to dogs, which can help you determine which garden plants are safe and which aren’t. Plants also tend to be less toxic than say fertilizer so, while there’s still a risk, your dog would have to consume a lot more of a plant to get sick.
Other Doggy Dangers
Beyond potentially toxic plants, standing water is a common garden danger for dogs. Leptospirosis, for example, is a bacteria that loves a good puddle. It’s common in wild animals and can easily make its way into your garden or yard. While some dogs won’t get sick from leptospirosis, those that do can experience vomiting, diarrhea, and even kidney failure. So it’s important to prevent standing water from pooling in your garden where your dog could lap it up.
Finally, gardening tools can pose a danger too. Sharp edges on hoes, rakes, and other tools can cause cut and puncture wounds if your dog unintentionally steps on or rolls on them. Spring-loaded tools can be especially dangerous, as they might unexpectedly close if your dog tries to play with them. Handheld trimmers with brightly colored rubber grips, for instance, look a lot like a toy from a dog’s perspective.
You might be thinking “Wow, I didn’t realize my garden could be so dangerous!” You wouldn’t be wrong to worry, but keep in mind that with the right planning and prevention, you can easily protect your dog from these common garden dangers. The safest way to be sure is to fence off areas that pose a high risk from the rest of the yard, but there’s nothing wrong with letting your dog play in the garden if you’re careful about keeping it safe.