Ah, gardens. The perfect place for your pup to dig a (not-so-helpful) hole right next to where you're planting those Zinnias for fall. While it may seem like a perfectly harmless pastime, digging in the dirt can have some unwanted consequences for dogs. Everything from fertilizers to pesticides to poisonous plants can be a problem for pups if exposed or ingested. Here are some of the most toxic things to steer clear of:
Chemicals and compost
Out of allllll the chemicals humans use in their gardens, rat poison and slug bait are two of the most harmful for pups. If you suspect your dog has eaten either, you have about an hour to get to a vet to treat them. If you’re a pet parent, it's best to skip these insecticides and pesticides and look into more biodynamic, pet-friendly ways to keep your garden growing.
Fertilizers can also be problematic: if a large amount is eaten (the odor can sometimes be attractive to pets) it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and pancreatitis in dogs. If you use fertilizer, it’s best to keep your pups away from treated areas until they are dry or rinsed into the lawn.
Compost has its own set of problems: it may contain poisonous food scraps, in addition to a specific toxin that occurs organically when food begins to break down. If you find your pet suddenly panting, drooling, and vomiting after being suspiciously close to your compost pile, get to the vet. Also, avoid dairy and meat products in your compost, and fence off the area so your curious pup can’t get into it.
There are about 700 plants considered toxic to household pets—and pups have no idea which ones they are! Nor do most humans. The AKC’s Poisonous Plant Guide is based on research of common plants, and the Pet Poison Helpline has every poisonous substance categorized and searchable on their site.
Some of the most common plants and weeds to watch out for are sago palm, buttercups, poison hemlock, lilies, daffodils, narcissus, nightshade, and holly. As pretty as they are, amaryllis, azaleas, begonias, chrysanthemums, and daisies can also be harmful to pets, as can aloe and jade. Pups shouldn’t chew on specific veggies like tomatoes, rhubarb, garlic, or onions, either.
Symptoms of poisoning include hemorrhaging, seizures, tremors, drooling, and vomiting. Most vets recommend getting to an emergency veterinarian hospital within the first hour of exposure to fully treat and even save your pet’s life.
The best ways to stay safe
Most importantly, know what’s growing in your garden! If it’s toxic, either pull it or fence it off so your pup can't get to it. Trying to avoid pesticides and herbicides, identifying potentially problematic weeds, and keeping tabs on “problem plants” requires diligence and a bit of research, but the safety of your dog is worth it.
Accidental ingestion of poisonous plants or chemicals can run anywhere from $500 to $2,000 and up depending on the treatment, and can be extremely stressful for your pet. Healthy Paws covers these accidental poisonings from the diagnostic testing to treatment to follow-up.
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