At last, the long awaited Spring is within sight, and thoughts turn to gardening. Here is some helpful information to make a garden that is safe for pets:
Fertilizers contain varying amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. The numbers you see on the package indicate the ratio (i.e., 30-10-20). They may also contain chemicals such as iron, copper, zinc, cobalt, boron, manganese, and molybdenum, which may be toxic depending upon the concentration. Fertilizers may also contain herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides, which can also be poisonous. Depending upon the amount ingested, fertilizer can cause anything from an upset stomach to a life-threatening gastrointestinal obstruction or severe and painful inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis). Be sure to follow instructions carefully if you use fertilizer and observe the appropriate waiting period before allowing your pet in the treated area.
Cocoa Mulch, popular in landscaping for its odor and color, also attracts pets and the cocoa bean shells can cause vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, and elevated heart rate, hyperactivity, seizures, and even death. If you use mulch, consider a less toxic alternative, such as shredded pine, cedar, or hemlock bark, but always supervise curious pets where mulch is spread to be sure it is not ingested.
Your pet should also be protected from insecticides, compost, fleas and ticks, garden tools, and allergy-causing flowers, all threats to the curious canine or feline. Remember that plants such as sago palm, rhododendron and azaleas are all poisonous. Sago palm and mushrooms can cause liver failure, while rhododendron, azalea, lily of the valley, oleander, rosebay, foxglove and kalanchoe all affect the heart. It is also important to keep your pet from wandering into the neighbor’s yard. A neighboring gardener who does not have pets may not be as concerned as you about pet friendly plants.
It is possible to have a safe garden that you and your pets can enjoy. Simply take the time to plan well, consult your landscaper, garden store, and veterinarian, and have a beautiful, healthy Spring and Summer!