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Most gardeners are aware that certain plants can cause illness or even death to pets depending on the amount ingested. However, many are unaware that there are a number of other things around the yard and garden that have the potential to be equally, if not more, dangerous. Here is a list of some common garden hazards for pets that gardeners should be aware of.
Algae (Blue-Green algae). When certain types of algae bloom they release naturally occurring toxins. Dogs and other animals have died after drinking lake and pond water containing these toxins. Dogs are at high risk because they enjoy being in and drinking the water, even if there is a layer of green-colored algae floating on top. And also because algae can attach to their coats and be swallowed when licking themselves clean. You can find more information here.
Animal toxins. Bites from certain species of toads, insects, spiders, snakes, and scorpions can also be hazardous to pets.
Baits (Rodent). Many baits that are used to attract rodents contain inactive ingredients that dogs and cats find appealing. Ingestion can lead to potentially life-threatening problems for pets including bleeding, seizures, kidney damage and even death. Pets can also be in danger of secondary poison from eating dead rodents killed by poison. Remember, even if you never use rodenticides, your neighbor might.
Baits (Fly and slug). Avoid using fly and slug baits containing methomyl and metaldehyde. If ingested in even small amounts, it can be fatal.
Balconies. Tall balconies without safety railings can lead to a disastrous fall.
Citronella candles. Keep citronella candles, insect coils, and oils secure and out of reach. If ingested, they can produce stomach irritation and central nervous system depression in pets.
Cocoa mulch. Cocoa mulch contains ingredients that can be deadly. Unfortunately, it also has a sweet chocolate scent that some pets find appealing.
Compost (particularly when moldy). Most dogs will find any half-digested or moldy organic material attractive. Compost may contain spoiled foods, coffee grounds, plants, and other ingredients that are potentially hazardous materials for pets, so keep them away.
De-icing salts. Some de-icing products contain chemicals that are irritating to paws and hazardous to pets (and wild birds) if ingested in large amounts. Paws should be cleaned as soon as the animal comes in from the snow. Even many of the "eco-friendly" and "paw-friendly" formulas still contain salts. As an alternative, use coarse sand or chicken grit. Its dark color promotes melting, provides great traction, won't harm pets or wild birds, and can easily be swept up in the spring.
Fences, gates, and deck lattice. Openings in damaged fences or gates can allow pets to escape. Dogs and cats can get their heads stuck in the openings of deck lattice, which can lead to cuts and scrapes or possible strangulation.
Fertilizers. Once applied to the yard and garden, fertilizers and plant food can be easily accessible and fatal to a pet left unsupervised.
Fire pit/BBQ grill. Flames can result in serious burns to your dog or cat, and ashes can cause illness if ingested. Certain types of matches contain chlorates, which can harm your pet if ingested, so always keep matches (and lighter fluid) out of their reach.
Flowers and plants. Many types of flowers and plants can be harmful to dogs and cats. For printable lists of plants that are both TOXIC and NON-TOXIC to dogs, cats, and horses, visit the ASPCA website.
Gasoline, Oil, and Pesticides. These all contain chemicals that may cause serious illness depending on the type of exposure. Some types of antifreeze/coolants contain ethylene glycol, which is highly toxic to dogs and cats even in tiny amounts.
Power Equipment. Know where your pet is when operating power equipment, so you can keep them well away from sharp blades and flying debris.
Swimming pools and hot tubs. Never leave your pet unattended near uncovered pools, even if they can swim. Keep treatment supplies securely stored.
Don't panic. Take a few seconds to collect the material you suspect made your pet sick. This will help your veterinarian or animal poison control center determine the proper course of action more quickly. When taking your pet to a local veterinarian, take the product's container with you and any material your pet may have vomited or chewed.
Your pet may appear normal for several hours (even days) after becoming poisoned, so if you see it ingesting something potentially toxic, call your veterinarian or animal poison control.
ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center: (888) 426-4435
(A $50 free may be applied to your credit card)
The Animal Poison Hotline: 888-232-8870
(A $35 fee may be applied to your credit card)
NOTE: If your pet exhibits severe symptoms such as seizures, loss of consciousness, is unconscious, or is having difficulty breathing, call your local veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic immediately.
Pet owners should avoid use of cocoa bean mulch in landscaping around dogs with indiscriminate eating habits.