A BETTER COMPANION
PET TRAINING

How to Plant a
Dog-safe Garden

This is the time of year when many people look forward to spending free time outside, enhancing their surroundings with lush plants and flowers. As many pets enjoy being outside in the warm spring and summer months, too, some thought must be given to their safety in the lawn and garden. With a little careful planning, you and your pet can enjoy a safe and relaxing garden environment. Whether you're planning a large garden to feed the family or decorating a small space with hanging baskets and containers, here are a few factors to be considered.

Plant Selection

Plants and flowers are nature's attention getters. The fragrance, appearance and cool shade they create are natural attractants for you and your pet. Curiosity often leads pets to consume the flowers and foliage of ornamental plants, which can produce irritating and sometimes life threatening side effects. When planning your garden, select plants that are non-toxic if touched or consumed.

     Plants for a Sunny Location

If the location of your garden gives you four or more hours of direct sunlight a day, you have a long list of annuals and perennials from which to choose.

Perennials return year after year from growth at the roots, they are a little more expensive, but do not need to be planted every growing season. Most gardeners have their favorites and mix both types for the longest possible color show. Safe choices for sunny locations include:

Annuals grow from seed and last one growing season. They are good choices for fast, instant color impact. Garden and discount centers will offer a wide variety of annual plants at economical prices.

Annuals

       Calendula       Petunia     Snapdragons       Cosmos         Zinnia      

Perennials

      Bee Balm       Phlox        Roses       Catmint/catnip       Coneflowers

Plants for Partial Sun

If your garden receives less than four hours of direct sunlight a day, the following list of non-toxic annuals and perennials requires less sunlight.

Annuals

        Primrose      Butterfly Flower     Spider Flower      Nasturtium

Perennials

          Columbine      Coral Bells      Turf Lilly        Goat's Beard

Shade Gardens

A shade garden receives little to no direct sunlight, although the sun may filter through the trees for dappled light. Plant selection for these areas may include the following:

Annuals

      Violet     Coleus      Begonia     Impatiens     New Guinea Impatiens

Perennials

     Hosta      Bugbane     Yellow Corydalis     Astilbe    Queen of the Meadow

Vegetable Gardens

If you're interest is vegetables, you'll need four or more hours of full sun for most plants. Keeping your pet out of the vegetable garden may be your biggest task, especially when plants are young and fragile. Some clearly visible fencing may help. Avoid hardware cloth as pets can become entangled. Motion detector sprinkler systems can be useful in keeping pets and wildlife out of newly planted areas, and are not harmful. Most vegetable plants do not pose toxicity problems with a few exceptions. Onions, chives and garlic, which a lot of pets do like, contain compounds that, if ingested, can cause anemia. The leafy part of the potato plant, and the green part of the potato skin contain compounds that are toxic if eaten in sufficient quantities. Fruits also contain toxic chemicals in their seeds/pits. Apple, plum, cherry, apricot and peach seeds/pits contain cyanide, which can cause fatal seizures.

Avoid Using These Toxic Garden Plants

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) experts field tens of thousands of calls each year involving animal companions who’ve had potentially hazardous contact with insecticides, weed killers and pet-toxic plants.

"Keeping animals safe from accidental poisonings should not end once you've stepped outside," says Dana Farbman, APCC pet poison prevention expert. "Protecting your pet from potential hazards in your yard is just as critical." While gardens and yards are lovely for relaxing, they can also prove dangerous for our animal companions.

What follows is a long list of toxic garden plants, ranging from bulbs to perennials to trees and shrubs. If you like to garden, try to avoid using any from this list. If you already have some of these poisonous garden plants, consider creating a fenced-in run to keep your dog away from your gardens.

Bulbs            

If your dog loves to dig in your yard or garden, these toxic garden plants are particularly dangerous. The bulb is the poisonous part of the plant. Also keep your dog out of any gardening or storage sheds, or your basement, if you overwinter these bulbs.

Some of these toxic garden plants, such as daffodils, are also offered as houseplants in the spring, sometimes by charities. Place them where your dog can't get at them.

Amaryllis (Amaryllis spp) Family: Amaryllidaceae
  Causes vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, hypersalivation, anorexia, depression, tremors.

Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale) Family: Liliaceae
     Causes irritation of the mouth parts, bloody vomiting, diarrhea, shock, multi-organ damage, bone marrow suppression.

Daffodil (Narcissus spp) Family: Amaryllidaceae
   Causes severe gastrointestinal disorders, convulsions, shivering, dermatitis, muscular tremors, hypotension (low blood pressure), and cardiac arrhythmias.

Elephant Ears, aka Caladium (Caladium hortulanum) Family: Araceae
   Causes irritation and intense burning of the mouth, lips and tongue, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty in swallowing.

Gladiolas (Gladiolas spp) Family: Iridaceae
   Causes abdominal pain, vomiting (occasionally bloody), diarrhea (occasionally bloody), hypersalivation, depression.

Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis) Family: Liliaceae
   Causes intense vomiting, diarrhea (occasionally bloody), depression and tremors.

Iris (Iris spp) Family: Iridaceae
   Causes vomiting (occasionally bloody), diarrhea (occasionally bloody), abdominal pain, hypersalivation, depression.

Lily of the Valley (Convalaria majalis) Family: Liliaceae
   These are particularly toxic garden plants, and can result in death. Causes vomiting, ataxia (loss of muscle control), cardiac arrhythmias, death.

Narcissus (Narcissus spp) Family: Amaryllidaceae
   Causes severe gastrointestinal disorders, dermatitis, convulsions, muscular tremors, shivering, hypotension (low blood pressure), and cardiac arrhythmias.

Tulip (Tulip spp) Family: Liliaceae
   Causes intense vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation, inappetence (loss of appetite), depression.

FERNS          

Some of these ferns are generally grown in hanging pots, and so should be relatively safe if you have a dog. Watch for berries falling to the ground from these toxic garden plants, though.

Asparagus Fern (Asparagus sprengeri) Family: Liliaceae
   Causes allergic dermatitis with repeated skin contact. Berry ingestion could result in vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain.

Emerald Feather aka Emerald Fern (Asparagus densiflorus) Family: Liliaceae
   Causes allergic dermatitis with repeated skin contact. Berry ingestion could result in vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain.

Lace Fern (Asparagus setaceus) Family: Liliaceae
   Causes allergic dermatitis with repeated skin contact. Berry ingestion could result in vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain.

Plumosa Fern (Asparagus plumosus) Family: Liliaceae
   Causes allergic dermatitis with repeated skin contact. Berry ingestion could result in vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain.

Flowering Plants

These toxic garden plants are very popular for their blooms.

Cyclamen (Cyclamen spp) Family: Primulaceae
   Causes vomiting, gastrointestinal inflammation, and death.

Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) Family: Saxifragaceae
   Causes vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, increase in heart rate, hyperthermia, depression.

Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe spp) Family: Crassulaceae
   Causes vomiting and diarrhea. The bufodienolides are cardiotoxic. These are the same type of toxin as found in poisonous toads.

Garden Perennials

These toxic garden plants are perennials in temperate climates; some are houseplants and/or annuals in colder climates.

Charming Dieffenbachia (Dieffenbachia amoena) Family: Araceae
   Causes intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, vomiting.

Christmas Rose (Helleborus niger) Family: Fanunculaceae
   Causes vomiting, bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, convulsions, delirium.

Flamingo Plant (Anthurium spp) Family: Araceae
   Causes intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, vomiting.

Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) Family: Scrophalariaceae
   Foxgloves, from which digoxin and other heart medications have been developed, are particularly toxic garden plants. They are very beautiful, and many gardeners use them to add height to their gardens. If you want foxgloves in your garden, consider a fenced-in run for your dog. Causes vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, cardiac arrhythmias, cardiac failure, death.

Marijuana (Cannabis sativa) Family: Cannabinaceae
   Causes prolonged central nervous system depression, respiratory depression, weakness, ataxia (loss of muscle control), sedation, sometimes hyperexcitation.

Morning Glory (Ipomoea spp) Family: Convolvulaceae
   The seeds may cause diarrhea, hallucinations.

Nightshade: there are several varieties; the most common are Deadly Nightshade, Black Nightshade, and Silverleaf Nightshade. (Solanum spp) Family: Solanaceae
   Causes diarrhea, hypersalivation, inappetence (loss of appetite), severe gastrointestinal upset, drowsiness, weakness, dilated pupils, slow heart rate, central nervous system depression, confusion, behavioral change.

Onion (Allium spp) Family: Liliaceae
   Causes gastrointestinal upset, hemolytic anemia, heinz body anemia, hemoglobinuria.

Tomato Plant (green parts only) (Lycopersicon spp) Family: Solanaceae
   Causes hypersalivation, inappetence (loss of appetite), severe gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, dilated pupils, slow heart rate, drowsiness, central nervous system depression, confusion, behavioral change, weakness.

Tropic Snow Dumbcane (Dieffenbachia amoena) Family: Araceae
   Causes intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing.

Lilies

Most lilies are toxic garden plants to cats only.

Glory Lily (Gloriosa superba) Family: Liliaceae
   Causes irritation of the mouth parts, bloody vomiting, diarrhea, shock, kidney and liver damage, bone marrow suppression.

Shrubs

Of all the toxic garden plants, shrubs are some of the deadliest. Try to avoid all use of the ones listed here, or use a fenced-in run for your dog.

Cycads (Cycas spp and Zamia spp) Family: Cycadaceae
   Causes vomiting, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, melena (black, tarry stool or vomit, mostly blood that gastric juices have acted on, likely caused by gastroenteritis), icterus (jaundice), increased thirst, bruising, coagulopathy, liver damage, liver failure, death.

Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica) Family: Berberidaceae
   Causes vomiting, diarrhea, cyanosis, pale mucous membranes, slow heart rate, respiratory congestion, respiratory failure, seizures, semi-coma, death.

Holly (Ilex spp) Family: Aguifoliaceae
   Causes intense vomiting and diarrhea, depression.

Jerusalem Cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum) Family: Solanaceae
   Causes gastrointestinal problems, including possible ulceration of the system, depression, respiratory depression, seizures, shock.

Oleander (Nerium oleander) Family: Apocynaceae
   Causes vomiting, diarrhea, hypothermia (decreased body temperature), cardiac abnormalities, death.

Precatory Bean (Abrus precatorius) Family: Leguminosae
   These beans are very toxic, especially if chewed. Causes severe vomiting and diarrhea, hyperthermia (increased body temperature), incoordination, inappetence (loss of appetite), and death.

Rhododendron (Rhododendron spp) Family: Ericaceae
   Causes vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation, weakness, hypotension (low blood pressure), central nervous system depression, cardiovascular collapse, coma, death.

Saddle Leaf Philodendron (Philodendron selloum) Family: Araceae
   Causes intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing.

Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta king sago) (Cycas spp and Zamia spp) Family: Cycadaceae
   Causes vomiting, melena (tarry stool or vomit), icterus (jaundice), increased thirst, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, bruising, coagulopathy, liver damage, liver failure, death.

Yucca (Yucca spp) Family: Agavaceae
   Causes vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, seizures, depression.

Mistletoe "American" (Phoradendron spp)
   The mistletoe is not really a shrub. It is a parasite that lives off of trees and shrubs. It can often grow to the size of a shrub. Causes gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular collapse, dyspnea (breathing difficulties), bradycardia, erratic behavior.

Succulents

Although not very toxic to humans (there are health drinks, as well as ointments and salves), aloe is a toxic garden plant to dogs.

Aloe (Aloe vera) Family: Liliaceae
   Causes vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, tremors, change in urine color, depression.

Trees

Like toxic garden plants, these trees are very toxic to dogs.

Avocado (Persea americana) Family: Lauraceae
   Causes vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory distress, generalized congestion, fluid accumulation around the heart, death.

Buddist Pine (Podocarpus macrophylla) Family: Araliaceae
   Causes severe vomiting and diarrhea.

Chinaberry Tree (Melia azedarach) Family: Meliaceae
   The berries are the most toxic of this plant. Causes vomiting, diarrhea, slow heart rate, depression, weakness, seizures, shock.

Japanese Yew aka Yew (Taxus spp) Family: Taxaceae
   Causes muscular tremors, dyspnea (difficulty breathing), seizures, sudden death from acute cardiac failure.

Lacy Tree (Philodendron selloum) Family: Araceae
   Causes intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, vomiting.

Macadamia Nut aka Queensland Nut, Australia Nut (Macadamia integrifolia smooth shelled, Macadamia tetraphylla rough shelled) Family: Proteaceae
   Causes vomiting, hyperthermia(overheating), weakness, muscular stiffness, tremors, increased heart rate, depression.

Madagascar Dragon Tree (Dracaena marginata) Family: Agavaceae
   Causes vomiting, drooling, incoordination, and weakness, inappetence (loss of appetite), depression.

Schefflera (Schefflera actinophylla or Brassaia actinophylla) Family: Araliaceae
   Causes intense burning and irritation of the mouth, lips and tongue, excessive drooling, difficulty swallowing, vomiting.

Vines

Like toxic garden plants, all the ivies listed here from the Araliaceae family cause gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, breathing difficulty, fever, polydipsia (excessive or abnormal thirst), dilated pupils, muscular weakness and incoordination, hyperactivity, coma. The foliage is much more toxic than the berries, so trim the leaves of these toxic garden plants to above your dog's reach.

Branching Ivy (Hedera helix)

English Ivy (Hedera helix)

Glacier Ivy (Hedera helix)

Hahn's self branching English Ivy (Hedera helix)

Needlepoint Ivy (Hedera helix)

European Bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara) Family: Solanaceae
   Causes drooling, inappetence (loss of appetite), severe gastric upset, dilated pupils, slow heart rate, drowsiness, lethargy, weakness.

Other Plants

American Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) Family: Celastraceae
   Causes weakness, convulsions, gastroenteritis (vomiting, diarrhea).

This is not a complete list of toxic garden plants. The term "spp" after a genus (for example, Amaryllis spp) indicates that all species of that genus are toxic garden plants. Other less popular, but still toxic garden plants, are not included here.

Experts recommend you watch out for the following:

Poisonous Plants

When designing and planting your green space, it's a good idea to keep in mind that many popular outdoor plants including sago palm, rhododendron and azalea are toxic to cats and dogs. Sago palm and other members of the Cycad family, as well as mushrooms can cause liver failure, while rhododendron, azalea, lily of the valley, oleander, rosebay, foxglove and kalanchoe all affect the heart. Please visit ASPCA’s full list and pics of toxic and non-toxic plants for your garden.

Lawn and Garden Chemicals

It is very easy to reach for a chemical pesticide, fertilizer or fungicide when faced with a problem in the lawn or garden. Fortunately for the average home gardener, safer alternatives are available for most commonly encountered problems, reducing the risk of a toxic exposure for your pet. You would not think that your pet would have any reason to consume these products but sadly they do, either intentionally or inadvertently and these types of poisonings are all too common. Remember before applying any product to your lawn, vegetables, or ornamental plants to read the label and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Many of these products are designed to persist in the environment days to weeks after application, so a pet can have an exposure days to weeks after initial application.

Fertilizer

Just like you, plants need food. But pet parents, take care, the fertilizer that keeps our plants healthy and green can wreak havoc on the digestive tracts of our furry friends. Ingesting large amounts of fertilizer can give your pet a good case of stomach upset and may result in life-threatening gastrointestinal obstruction. Be sure to follow instructions carefully and observe the appropriate waiting period before letting your pet run wild outside.

Insecticides

Like fertilizer, herbicides, insecticide baits, sprays and granules are often necessary to keep our gardens healthy, but their ingredients aren't meant for four-legged consumption. The most dangerous forms of pesticides include snail bait with metaldehyde, fly bait with methomyl, systemic insecticides with the ingredients disyston or disulfoton, mole or gopher bait with zinc phosphide and most forms of rat poisons. Always store pesticides in inaccessible areas and read the manufacturer's label carefully for proper usage and storage.

Alternatives to Chemical Pesticides

If you notice damaging insects on your plants such as aphids, spider mites or thrips, these insects can be eliminated or reduced by a simple spray of water. These soft-bodied insects are easily dislodged. Adjust the nozzle of your hose so a firm spray will not harm your plants and wash them away. If you have only a few plants, use a good stream of water from your watering can and a little hand washing. It may take a day or two but an infestation can be cleared by no more than a good shower!

Soap and Water

If your insect problem is more serious, add a teaspoon of dish soap to a gallon of water and use it in a garden sprayer. The soap is an irritant to a lot of insects and can help break down the protective barriers of their external skeleton. There are commercial insecticidal soaps available that are less toxic than most chemical alternatives.

Cocoa Mulch

Many gardeners use cocoa bean shells, a by-product of chocolate production, in landscaping. Popular for its attractive odor and color, cocoa mulch also attracts dogs with its sweet smell, and like chocolate, it can pose problems for our canine companions. Depending on the amount involved, ingestion of cocoa mulch can cause a range of clinical signs, from vomiting, diarrhea and muscle tremors to elevated heart rate, hyperactivity and even seizures. Consider using a less-toxic alternative, such as shredded pine, cedar or hemlock bark, but always supervise curious canines in yards where mulch is spread.

Compost

The "black gold" of the garden, recycled kitchen and yard waste can be combined to produce the best garden fertilizer at no cost and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers. It can be applied to the lawn and garden twice a year and it will replace the essential nutrients that growing plants and grasses require.

And Don't Forget

Sometimes we forget the simplest things! Put your pets inside when mowing the lawn. A lawn mower can make a projectile out of a stick or rock that can injure your pet. Paint your garden tools a bright color such as red or yellow so you can see them out in the yard. Many pets step or trip on sharp garden implements. Store your chemicals out of reach and in their original containers. Don't assume your pet will not be interested in consuming these products. If there is a toxic exposure or consumption, call your veterinarian immediately with the information from the product label. Keep your pets inside when applying any chemicals to the lawn or garden. With a little planning you and your pet can enjoy a safe and beautiful garden.

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