Garden CatGarden Dog

Warm, dry summer weather is the time when many pet owners let their pets run free in the garden but lawns and landscapes can hold risks that are life-threatening to your pet.

If your dog or cat is a chewer, it’s important to be aware of toxic plants that can cause life-threatening health problems as well as intestinal blockages. Keep these plants out of your container pots and gardens: English ivy, castor beans, lilies, yew, azalea, hydrangea, nightshade, lily of the valley, hyacinth, jonquils, daffodils, jimson weed. Trees that are extremely harmful to dogs (if they chew on leaves, bark) include apricot, hemlock, yew, and Jerusalem cherry.

Signs to Watch For

If your pet starts exhibiting these signs, take it to a vet immediately: hallucination, laboured breathing, weak pulse, nasal discharge, shaking of the hind legs, abnormal heart rate and rhythm, convulsions, muscle twitching, excessive thirst, bloody stool, dilated pupils, frothing at the mouth.

Watch for changes in behaviour. When pets are in pain, they may become irritable and avoid being held. Cats can hide when they become ill.

Have a pet-friendly lawn

Fertilizer with bone meal, insecticides, herbicides, cedar mulch and cocoa mulch can be lethal if ingested.  Veterinarians recommend choosing pet-friendly alternatives.

Keep barbecue briquettes, slug bait, gardening tools and products such as rodent traps and poison out of reach of pets.

Your lawn and garden can also be a source of pests such as fleas, ticks, intestinal parasites and heartworms. See your vet for tips on the safest, most effective pest prevention and treatments for the breed and weight of your pet.

If your pet rubs his ears or backside along the floor, it can be a sign of irritation caused by an infection, allergic reaction, mite or fungal condition.

Tips for Pet-Friendly Landscaping

  • Build a sandbox or digging box for your dog. This can include a mix of sand and soil. Bury bones and dog treats to make it even more appealing.
  • Create a potty zone such as a toy fire hydrant where your dog can do his or her business. Surround it with mulch or gravel.
  • Avoid synthetic weed killer.
  • Use organic fertilizers.
  • Set aside a chewable section of your garden. For cats, plant mint, thyme and valerian as well as catnip offers
    • To deter digging, spray garlic or pepper oil based deterrent sprays. Keep planting beds moist can also deter digging.

Dealing with Dog Destruction

Dog urine contains two compounds which are harmful to grass: salt crystals and nitrogen. While nitrogen burns grass in the same way as fertilizer, salt crystals can’t be washed away and kill sod.

Certain types of lawns are less sensitive to salt, for example, fescue is hardier than Kentucky blue grass.

This type of lawn will stand up much better to pets and require a lot less maintenance than blue grass lawns.

Dog urine can result in dead thatch and roots, requiring grass to be replaced. Applying dog spot repair kits can result in mismatched textures, and a patchwork lawn with a mix of shades.

To maintain a repaired lawn and prevent the dead spots from returning, sprinkle a cup or two of some granular or liquid dog spot remover regularly over the summer and even winter in the places your dog frequents the most .