To make your garden safe for pets is important, as furry friends adore their outdoor space, yet many flowers and other items are hazardous. Here are some useful resources to keep every creature safe. Also read For Dog’s Sake (includes a list of toxic plants) , 101 Essential Tips for Dog or Cat Safety and Petscaping. Keep a Pet First Aid Kit handy.
Avoid Toxic Plants & Chemicals
- Many flowers (including all bulbs) are toxic to pets, as are yew/oak trees to horses. Find plants to avoid near dogs, cats, rabbits or horses (PDSA has informative lists of toxic plants, by season).
- Avoid chemical baits (or lock away). See humane methods to deter critters and kind safe ways to deter slugs and snails.
- Get your lawn off junk food (lawn chemicals cause bladder cancer). Keep pets away from freshly-seeded grass (check ears after walks in long grass to avoid embedded seeds). Use garden shears over strimmers, to keep garden wildlife safe.
Landscaping Safely for Pets
- Paved areas are safer, to stop stones and gravel getting stuck in paws, or swallowed. Keeping nails trimmed, also helps.
- Keep pets away from cocoa mulch (has the same toxin as chocolate), pine mulch (pets can choke on the needles or get stomach punctures) and rubber mulch (choking hazard). Also keep pets away from fresh compost, as it contains mould.
- Ensure pets have shady rest areas, to avoid heatstroke.
- Choose a secure fence from solid wood or recycled plastic (never rots or needs painting) and use Lifetime Wood Treatment (over toxic creosote.) If you have a hedgehog highway (a hole in the fence for spiky friends to travel between gardens), keep it blocked when pets are vulnerable to predators (hogs are nocturnal).
Let Pets Play Safely in Gardens
- Never leave pets unattended on balconies or with collars on near fences, as both can snag and choke. Keepsafe Collar (for dogs) break away in emergencies (attach the lead to both D-rings, to secure on walks). Kitty Collars (6 months+) can be embroidered with info (they also break away in emergencies). Flexitags fit flush with collars.
- Discard dangerous toys and invest in a few safer ones, suitable for the size of your pet’s mouth. Good brands are Kong (rubber) and Beco (bamboo/rice husk balls, rope balls, flyers and bones). Do not leave pets unsupervised with toys, and avoid throwing sticks: can cause mouth injuries.
Keep Pets Safe Near Water
- Pets (and wildlife and children) can all drown in ponds, so create sloping sides. It’s best to keep pets away from ponds as toads can give off a poison, and blue-green algae is toxic to pets (see safer alternatives to netting).
- Even Greener and The Original Water Butt Co (for small spaces) offer water butts with safety lock features (never leave open barrels of water out as these are drowning hazards, and stagnant water attracts mosquitoes).
- Cover swimming pools, if not in use. Doggy Docks are for dogs to get in/out of pools (can be used for boat platforms).
Other Pet Safety Tips
- It’s important to clean up pet poop immediately. If children or other pets fall in it, it can cause blindness.
- If your garden is bothered by wasps, Waspinator is a brown paper bag that looks like just a wasp’s nest. Wasps are very territorial, so will move elsewhere, when seeing this.
- Rock salt used in icy weather causes burns on paws, when pets come inside to warmer temperatures. Use a shovel to clear snow, and hose paws after walks. EcoGrit (biodegradable cereal waste) is an alternative, they also suggest straw or sand.