Pet Conscious Gardening

Woman with dog gardening
Your outdoor space can be a great benefit to you and your pet.  Sunshine, exercise, and brain stimulation are essential for human and animal health.  Unfortunately, gardens can also present some hazards for dogs and cats. From skunk sprays to sunstroke, many preventable accidents can happen in the backyard. Mindful planning can help you create a beautiful, enjoyable, and safe garden for your whole family.
 
Plan
  • Before heading to the greenhouse, make sure the structure of your garden is safe and secure.
  • Remove hazards such as sharp rocks, dead tree limbs, and debris, and fill any holes.
  • Create shady retreats from the sun using trees, pergolas, or canopies.
  • Inspect fences and gates to ensure your pet cannot escape.
  • Install motion-triggered lights.  Bright light discourages skunks, raccoons, and other wildlife from visiting at night.
  • Keep compost bins, garden chemicals and tools tightly secured and out of your pet’s reach.
  • Visit the veterinarian to make sure your pet is ready to greet the outdoor season.  As recommended for your area, update vaccines, deworming, and flea/tick prevention.
 
Plant
  • You want your yard to be exciting for your pets and worry-free for you. Thoughtful planting choices can make the perfect oasis a reality.  With a bit of garden artistry, you can create a great space for dogs and cats to express their animal instincts by sniffing, hiding, and stalking.
  • Choose pet-friendly plants like alyssum, snapdragons, and marigolds.  Avoid toxic plants such as lilies, foxglove, and grapes.  For an illustrated list of toxic and non-toxic plants, visit the ASPCA poisonous plants page.
  • Select an assortment of plants. Choose different heights and shapes to maximize the stimulation that your garden offers.
  • Consider choosing hardy and “steppable” plants that your pet can explore. This way, no part of your garden will need to be “off-limits” to pets.
  • Grow plants that naturally repel pests like ticks, mosquitos, and slugs.  Some great choices are chrysanthemums, mint, and lavender.
  • For your lawn, choose a grass variety that is resistant to pet urine scalding.
 
Protect
  • Look for ways to maintain your garden in a pet- and earth-friendly manner. 
  • void using insecticides and herbicides.  Slug, ant, and rodent baits are especially dangerous when ingested by pets.
  • Explore safer pest control solutions like diatomaceous earth, nematodes, and naturally repellant plants.
  • Fertilize with manure, finished compost, or animal-safe commercial products.
  • Select garden mulch thoughtfully.  Cocoa shell mulches can be harmful if ingested in large quantities.  Untreated cedar mulch is pet-safe and repels many pests.
  • Make sure to empty and clean pet bowls, birdbaths, and kiddie pools daily. Standing water can harbour pathogens like giardia and leptospirosis.  It also adds to mosquito populations.  
 
There’s no better time to cultivate your interest in backyard gardening!  Your two- and four-legged family members will appreciate a refreshed place to play in and explore. Happy Planting!
 
Access the latest tips on lifestyle, health, and other pet-related topics in our Pets Plus Us Blog.
 
Written by:
Dr. Sperry, DVM, Veterinary Advisor, Pets Plus Us
The information provided and contained herein are the opinions of PTZ Insurance Services Ltd. which are based on external publication. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice. PTZ Insurance Services Ltd. assumes no responsibility or liability for any loss, claims or damages arising out of the within content.