Warmer weather is here! ‘Tis the season for us to be outdoors, working to get our yards and gardens in tip-top shape. While this means more lawn care, mulching, and planting for us, it’s a whole new world for our curious pet to explore. It’s important to be aware of the potential dangers that may be lurking for your pet in your yard or garden. Learn more about how to keep your yard beautiful and your pet safe this season.
Are you using fertilizers and pesticides?
It can be challenging to use any chemicals in your yard, and there’s a reason for those signs warning people and pets to stay off grass that’s been recently treated. There are typically two choices of fertilizer: 1) synthetic or 2) natural/organic. Any type of fertilizer can be harmful for pets if ingested. For synthetic fertilizers, keep your pet away from the fertilized area for 24-72 hours after watering or rain. For natural/organic fertilizer, keep your pet away at least 48 hours so that the product fully dries. Although the natural/organic fertilizers may sound safe, your pet may be more tempted to sniff and eat it because the “meals” are derived from animals and plants. Symptoms to watch out for include diarrhea and vomiting. More serious cases can involve inflammation of the pancreas and foren body obstructions. Keep all pets away from weed killers, and, if possible, use natural herbicides such as a mix of 1 gallon white vinegar, ½ cup table salt, and 1/4 cup of the original blue “Dawn” dish soap.
The National Cancer Foundation reports that one in every three dogs is affected by cancer, so why risk exposing your furry friend to toxic lawn and garden chemicals? The company Espoma makes a line of natural, organic lawn foods that the company says are safe for pets, kids, and the environment. If you suspect your pet may have ingested fertilizer, keep an eye on her and, if you see any troubling symptoms, consult with an online veterinarian immediately.
While springtime mulching the planting beds is common in many parts of the country to conserve soil moisture, stabilize soil temperature, and reduce weed growth, mulch is often a mystery product. Traditionally it was made of tree bark, now it can include wood chips, pine straw, moss, grass clippings, leaves as well as other items such as newspaper, manure, compost, rubber or other non-organic items. Many nurseries color mulch with a water based solution of a colorant and a chemical binder to achieve the red, brown or black color choices. Check with your mulch source to determine what it is made of, whether coloring is added to the mulch, and if it is safe for your pet. Mulch made from cedar, pine, and untreated wood are most safe. Cocoa bean shell mulch contains small amounts of theobromine, the same compound found in chocolate, and is toxic to dogs, so avoid using it. Many dog breeds like to chew on wood, so bark mulch can be irresistible. Train your dog to keep out of planting beds to lessen the risk of choking or obstructions. Another challenge with mulch is dogs running through it and bringing dirty paws into the house. You can keep an old towel by the door to wipe down paws or try PawZ rubber booties for dogs.
Composting is an alternative to buying commercial or organic fertilizers, but your compost bin is full of decaying organic matter and molds that can be toxic to both pets and wildlife. Be sure that your compost bin is secure or your compost pile is out of reach of your pets. And be sure not to compost any dairy or meat products.
Allergens in the Yard:
Watch out for allergy symptoms. Even though your plants may not be poisonous to dogs, they may still cause an allergic reaction, as can certain pollens. Pay attention to your pup to make sure they aren’t exhibiting any signs of irritation. These may be as obvious as itching and sneezing, or more subtle like paw chewing or excessive licking. There may also be vomiting and diarrhea, but these are more often linked to something your dog consumed, including food allergens. To help your pup combat allergies, bathe her often and wipe her paws off with a damp cloth or unscented baby wipe when she comes inside.
Sun and Heat:
Everybody loves a sunny day, including our pets. Dogs are particularly susceptible to heat stroke and heat exhaustion, which can have fatal consequences. So it’s important to provide your pup plenty of water and shade when she is playing outside. And did you know that dogs can get sunburned and develop skin cancer? The areas on a dog that are most susceptible are: nose, tips of ears, around the mouth, underbelly, and eyelids. Again, make sure your yard has shady areas where your dog can get out of the sun. Keep an eye on any areas on your dog that you suspect have been mildly sunburned. At the first sign of discomfort or skin irritation, a visit to the vet is in order.
Plantings: Toxic Beauty
The 16 most common poisonous plants for dogs include the sago palm, tomato plant, aloe vera, ivy, amaryllis, gladiola, American holly, daffodil, baby’s breath, milkweed, castor bean, azalea/rhododendron, tulip, chrysanthemum, begonia and oleander. If these plants are in your garden or your home, keep your dogs away and learn more about them so you are aware of any symptoms. If your pet ingests them and presents with any symptoms contact your vet, TelePAWS, or animal poison control immediately 888-426-4435.