Green Paws: Planting a Pet-Safe Garden
Gardening season is in full swing, the best time of year for those of us who enjoy enhancing our surroundings with beautiful plants and flowers. Because curiosity often leads outdoor-loving pets to nibble on the flowers and foliage of ornamental plants, care must be taken to ensure that your greenery is safe for pets.
Fortunately, there are plenty of options for creating a lush and lovely pet-safe garden, and with a little planning you and your pets will soon be safely enjoying nature’s bounty!
Poisonous Plants and Bulbs
As you flip through the seed catalog or scout out your local garden center, it’s important to keep in mind which plants pose a threat to your pets. The following list includes common plants, bulbs, and flowers that can be toxic to your pet:
- Lily (all parts of the plant are extremely toxic to cats)
- Morning glory
For a more exhaustive list of toxic plants, check out the ASPCA’s poisonous plants list.
Symptoms of Plant Poisoning
The range of symptoms that can be experienced due to ingestion of a toxic plant are varied, but the most common behaviors include:
- Excessive panting
- Elevated body temperature
- Pale gums
- Sudden onset of excessive vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Difficulty swallowing
- Weakness or lethargy
- Convulsions, tremors, or seizure
Planning Is the Key to a Pet-Safe Garden
Whether you’re opting for a large garden to feed your family of ten, or decorating a smaller space with a few potted plants and flower beds, keep the safety of your pets in mind. Consider the following:
- Keep pets indoors while planting, as many pets enjoy digging in fresh soil and may dig up whatever you have planted.
- Cover bulbs and starters with mulch at the end of the season to discourage curious pets.
- Limit toxic plants to areas where pets don’t spend time (such as the front yard), or fence off the area.
- Be sure to remove any foxtails as soon as you spot them this spring and summer. Foxtail awns can cause serious damage to your pet’s skin and are dangerous if swallowed. If your pet picks up any foxtail awns in his or her fur while outdoors, remove them promptly.
- Keep pets away from compost piles by covering or fencing them off.
What are your tips for creating a pet-safe garden? We would love to hear them! Post them on our Facebook page or let us know the next time you’re in the office.