Tips on Creating a Pet-Safe Garden and Yard



Is your garden safe for your pets?? Do you know what's in the fertilizers, mulch  you or your gardener puts down??  Do you have slugs?  If so, what are you using to get rid of them and is its safe for your pet??  Do you have plants and flowers accessible to your pets?  Are they also safe for your furry friends??

These are all questions you should be asking yourself now that planting time has arrived.   We're all busy in our gardens fixing them up with some beautiful and colorful plants and flowers, mulching, spraying and fertilizing….but beware…even the most beautiful of flowers could be very dangerous for our pups and kitties. 

So whether you do the gardening yourself or have a landacaper, be sure to always check what's in the mulch, fertilizer or bug killers before putting it down. 

Same goes for plants and flowers, you'll be as surprised as we were to see some of these on this list.  

The following plants are toxic to both cats and dogs (unless otherwise noted) along with clinical signs of poisoning:

Aloe Vera: Vomiting, depression, diarrhea, anorexia, tremors, change in urine color.

Asian Lily: Vomiting, inappetence, lethargy, kidney failure, and death is possible. Cats are only species known to be affected (toxic to cats only).

Asparagus Fern: allergic dermatitis with repeated dermal exposure. Berry ingestion could result in gastric upset (vomiting, abdominal pain, or diarrhea.)

Begonia: Oral irritation, intense burning and irritation of mouth, tongue and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing. Tubers are the most toxic.

Baby's Breath: Vomiting, diarrhea

Calla Lily: Oral irritation, intense burning and irritation of mouth, tongue and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing.

Corn Plant: Vomiting (occasionally with blood), depression, anorexia, hypersalivation, dilated pupils (cats).

Cycads (Sago Palm, Fern Palm): Vomiting (may be bloody), dark stools, jaundice, increased thirst, bloody diarrhea, bruising, liver failure, death. 1-2 seeds can be fatal.

Daffodil: Vomiting, salvation, diarrhea; large ingestions cause convulsions, low blood pressure, tremors and cardiac arrhythmias. Bulbs are the most poisonous part.

Geranium: Vomiting, anorexia, depression, dermatitis.

Jade Plant: Vomiting, depression, ataxia, slow heart rate (rare.)

Pencil Cactus: Irritating to the mouth and stomach, sometimes causing vomiting, but generally over-rated in toxicity.

Ribbon Plant (Corn Plant, Cornstalk Plant, Dracaena, Dragon Tree): Vomiting (occasionally with blood), depression, anorexia, hypersalivation, dilated pupils (cats).

Tulip: Vomiting, depression, diarrhea, hypersalivation. Highest concentration of toxin in bulb.

Cocoa Mulch: This is very toxic if ingested and is in the chocolate family.  It contains theobromine and caffeine…can cause diarrhea, elevated heart rate and seizures.  Use alternatives like shredded pine, cedar.

Insecticides & Herbicides:  Phenoxy type of this product shows increase in cancer…choose a non phenoxy herbicide such as Roundup.

Slug Bait:  that contains metaldehyde, could be fatal not only to your pets but also to wildlife.  Check for a pet safe markings on this products package  or check the internet if you can't find one.  The uk has one that could be sent to you.  Also there are a couple of great home remedies out this from sharp rock cover to coffee grinds and egg shell compost…seems the slugs fon't like anything rough and scractcy on their bellies.  Be sure to check these out.

This is just list a short list of some of the palnts and flowers, mulch, fertilizer and slug baits and hazards that could be dangerous to your pets, I'm know there are quite a few more.  If your unsure, contact you local ASPCA  or check out their site for a complete list.

The bottom line is, if you fertilize and compost responsibly and avoid using insecticides at all, your pets will be safe, but if you have to use them, make sure you follow the directions on the packaging. 

Check out plants and and choose safe plant locations and keep anything you need to apply in your garden in a safe place, like a shed or garage. 

Also, be sure you keep tools like rakes, tillers, and hoes that could cause trauma and pose a tetanus risk away from your dogs and cats…simple enough things to do.

Last but not least…no one is telling you to rip these plants out if they're already in your garden.  Just keep an eye on your pets when they're out so they don't try to eat them.   Pets should be monitored outdoors anyway.  We all know how difficult it can be to train your dogs not to go into the flower beds even when your watching, so don't be fooled into thinking they're trained.  Pets are like kids and will do the darndest things when they know your not looking.

If you don't have any of these plants in your garden but might like to have some of them, think of alternative ways and places to put them. 

For example, we just planted a bunch of Geraniums in planters that hang from a fence.   Maybe you could put them on a hook in hanging baskets around your flower beds.  Keep them in your front yard if your pets only go out back and are leashed for walking in front where you have better control. Of course these are great examples for dogs…with cats it could be more difficult but not impossible. 

If your dogs or cats do by some chance get into any of these plants or flowers, call your local Poinson Control or your ASPCA for direction. 

Heres to a beautiful garden and yard for both you and your pets!