We think of our yards as the safe haven.
It’s where the dog romps and the kids can run barefoot in the sheer delight of summer. But the places where little feet and paws step and the temptations for tasting should be a concern.
Check out the edging. Paws cut by the steel edging that separates grass areas from bed areas are one of the most common of all pet injuries. Sharp steel edging is also dangerous for kids if they step or fall on it. Better options: edging with a rounded edge on top, poured concrete edging and bricks or pavers.
Strange but true: many dogs eat rocks!
- If you use river rock as mulch and your dog swallows them, you’re looking at a life-threatening situation and serious surgery. Crushed granite is also small enough to be eaten and its sharp edges can cut paws and feet.
- Bark and wood mulches often trigger undesirable chewing and this light-weight mulch is easily kicked out of beds. Better option: cobble. About the size of a large baked potato, these rounded rocks are too big for dogs to eat or kick out of beds.
Don’t park your dog on the deck. Dark wood decking gets extremely hot and dogs left on decks all day have suffered heat strokes. Splinters hurt paws and feet.
Water features are good for dogs if the kids are old enough to play safely around them. Dogs perspire through their feet, so walking through the water is cooling. They also provide an ongoing source of water for hot days; be sure water cleaners are non-toxic.
What about plants?
Weeds are more than an unsightly. Prickly ones like thistle are painful. Some weeds, like purslane, are toxic to dogs. Gardening tip: don’t weed in front of the dog. It teaches him to dig and pull up plants which can ruin the yard and might make him sick.
Wild mushrooms, that tend to erupt after rainy periods, can be toxic so deal with them quickly. Don’t rake or mow them as that spreads the spores. Wear a disposable glove, pick them and dispose of them in a bag that goes in the trash. Never compost mushrooms.
Common landscape plants are toxic to pets
Many plants and even some that are edible to humans are toxic to pets. Avoid these plants if your dog is prone to digging up or chewing on plant material:
- Foxglove digitalis can cause heart failure. Is toxic to humans and pets.
- Lilies. Easter lily, tiger lily, day lily, lily of the valley and Asiatic/oriental lily are know to be toxic to cats – and perhaps dogs.
- Spring bulbs. Daffodil foliage will cause GI upset, but the bulb itself can cause seizures. Most spring-flowering bulbs are toxic if the dog digs them up and chews them. Plant them in the front yard.
- Iris rhizomes at the base of the plant.
- Tall ornamental grasses. Dogs often eat these plants and the sharp grass blades cut their stomachs.
Toxic fruits and veggies
Some of our common edibles aren’t suitable for pets.
- Onions. Mature and green onions, garlic and leeks, both raw and cooked, are toxic to dogs.
- Hops are toxic, so if you grow them for home-brewed beer, be aware.
- Chamomile, which some gardeners grow for tea, is another pet toxin.
- Grapes are very toxic to dogs, in particular, and that includes dried grapes-i.e., raisins.
- Seeds of stone fruits such as peaches, cherries and apricots contain cyanide which can poison pets. Notice whether your pet eats fallen fruit and how much, then check in with your vet.
Composting tip: If you compost, use an enclosed tumbler bin as the smell attracts animals. Bacteria in decomposing matter can make them sick.