As the spring gardening season is well under way across the country, people are purchasing plants for their yards and homes, fluffing up the garden beds with fresh new mulch, and using weed products on their lawns.  It is critical that every pet owner, whether you have cats, dogs or rabbits, be familiar with plants and yard products that can be hazardous to their pets (and in some cases, children as well).  Most recently, awareness about the deadly effects of the SAGO PALM has been in the news.  This plant can kill a pet within hours of even a casual lick or bite of the seeds especially.  If you have this plant in your yard or home and want to keep your pets and children safe, remove it and its leaves etc. immediately.  It looks a bit like a pineapple with a few fronds growing from the top, and it can reach over 3′ in diameter.  It’s popular in more southern climates, but has become a house plant as well.  Labels on the plant do not always warn of the toxic effects.  It is sold in chain home supply stores, chain variety stores, and small plant supply stores nationwide.  It can put your dog into liver failure within hours.

Cocoa mulch, cocoa shell mulch, cocoa bean hull mulch and cocoa bean shell mulch comes from the cocoa bean.  This is our source for chocolate, which is harmful to dogs.  It contains theobromine which causes cardiac arrhythmia, diarrhea, seizures, vomiting, hyperactivity and increased heart rates in pets.  Death can occur if large amounts are ingested.  Also be wary of small rocks used on dry river beds or paths, or around fountains.  Rocks can be swallowed by pets, especially curious pups, and cause blockages or injury from jagged edges.  Safer mulch products include pine needles, chemical free leaves, untreated natural wood mulch, and cedar mulch.  Cedar has the added benefit of being repellent to insects, including fleas.  Be aware that if your dog likes to dig and chew mulch, any type can cause digestive issues or risk of puncture injury.

Disulfoton pesticides are toxic to dogs, causing vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and possibly death.   It is found in rose products.  Also, metaldehyde, used in snail and slug bait, causes tremors, seizures and death and tastes good to dogs.  Avoid most of the spray application herbicide products that can cause vomiting–and if you do use these products, bring in dog toys, bowls, and your dog until the treated area is completely dry.  Some pet owners feel use of herbicides contributed to cancer in their pets and it is indeed best to avoid use of them.  Alternatives include using boiling water or white vinegar (use in a spray bottle) to kill weeds.

Pets want to enjoy the warm weather with time outside as much as you do, so please keep your yard safe for your pets.  Look up information about any products you consider using, and stick to natural alternatives as much as possible.  A beautiful lawn is not worth an animal’s life.   A life well lived with your beloved pet is well worth a few weeds on the garden path.