Spring is around the corner and most of us are starting to daydream of warm days outside in our backyards, planting our new gardens, and seeing springtime gardens bloom. The backyard and garden of your home can be a little slice of heaven for you, as well as your dogs and other pets.
Of course, for your dogs this can also mean—holes to burrow, flowers to eat, plants to dig up, and bugs to chase. While digging up your new flowerpot is the worst-case scenario, it is best to be prepared with a safe and pet-friendly backyard and garden…just in case your precious pups get into the flowerbeds.
Here are some plants and flowers to use and avoid in your backyard, as well as some other tips to make your home and garden healthy for your pets.
Plants and Flowers That Are Safe for Dogs
The safest flowers for your pets are the ones that are also completely edible for humans. These include violets, pansies, marigold, and roses. Flowers that stem from vegetables, such as squash, are also ok for pups.
Culinary herbs like parsley, oregano, sage, thyme, mint, and rosemary are all safe for dogs. Apart from not being toxic, they also pack a strong taste, so your pets will likely avoid them. Aromatic herbs, such as lavender and mint, are also a great choice.
A strawberry patch, apple trees, and raspberry canes are all wonderful dog-friendly additions to your garden. Dogs can learn to pick berries or other fruit if they acquire a taste for it, so don’t be surprised if your harvest is severely lacking at “dog-height.”
Plants to Avoid For a Garden That is Safe For Pets
This natural mulch made of cocoa bean shells is a by-product of the process of producing chocolate. It is very common mulch used in landscaping and can be a good nutrient-rich additive for plants. However, if you have a home with dogs or cats, it is best to use alternative mulch for your landscaping. If eaten in large quantities, cocoa mulch (and chocolate) can be toxic to pets.
This houseplant is a known toxin to both humans and animals and is considered one of the most poisonous common garden plants there is. Avoid Oleander altogether, especially in a home with pets and children. Oleander contains the toxins oleandrin and nerioside, which are very similar to the toxins in foxglove (which you should also avoid). These chemicals are so toxic that just one pound of oleander is lethal to a large horse.
Black cherry contains cyanogenic predecessors that release cyanide whenever its leaves are damaged by frost, trampling, drought, wilting, or by being blown down by wind and storms. Most dogs can consume small amounts of healthy leaves, bark and fruit safely. But, if a hungry dog consumes large amounts of fresh leaves or small amounts of damaged leaves (as little as 2oz), poisoning will occur, and it may be lethal. If you are a big fan of a cherry tree, make sure it is planted in an area your pets will never go near.
More Pet Safety Tips for Your Garden
Be Careful With Mushrooms
Spring is one of the biggest mushroom seasons of the year. While 99% of mushrooms have little or no toxicity, the other 1% are highly toxic and can cause life-threatening problems in dogs. This may seem like a small percentage but keep in mind safe mushrooms can be difficult to distinguish from toxic mushrooms by looks alone. Keeping an eye on mushroom growth and clearing them away quickly is a good way to play it safe with your pets.
Use Natural Gardening Aids Whenever Possible
Not all garden products are harmful to animals, but it is best to err on the side of caution and only use organic or nontoxic garden products and gardening aids. Take a careful look at what you are using on your lawn and flower gardens and avoid any chemical herbicides and pesticides. These can be toxic to your pups if they accidently ingest some while playing in the backyard.
Use Cedar Chips for Mulch
Small cedar chips are easy on paws yet large enough so they won’t cling to silky coats. The soft and cushy feel of these wood chips is very comfortable for the little pups to lounge on as well.
Make a Plant Free Running Perimeter
Leave a plant-free “patrolling” area around the perimeter of your yard; dogs instinctively (and repeatedly) cruise boundaries and fence lines.
A beautiful garden is something we all look forward to in the spring. Just remember, it is possible to have a beautiful backyard oasis and still keep pet health at the top of mind. Keeping some healthy dog treats on hand for your furry family members to chew on instead of those flowers is also a good idea.