5 Things Pet Owners Should Know Before Planting Spring Gardens

For many of us and our pets, the sweet arrival of springtime signifies warmer weather and longer daylight hours — which translates to more time outside! If you have pets and plan to spend time sprucing up your garden this spring, there are a few things you need to know.

Many popular plants, flowers and gardening products can be toxic to cats and dogs. If you think your pet has ingested something toxic in your garden, contact your veterinarian right away. To help ward off potential poisoning problems (and for other advice), check out the gallery below.

Planting a Pet-Safe Garden

Pet Owners Planting Spring Gardens Toxic Flowers

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1. Many common plants and flowers are toxic to animals.

Hyacinths (pictured here), lilies, daffodils, sago palms, tulips, and begonias — just to name a few — can be toxic to animals and, therefore, should never be planted in the spring garden of a pet-owning home. Instead, opt for nontoxic plants like African violets or magnolias. For more extensive lists of plants and flowers that are and aren't dangerous to animals, visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center's Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants List.

Pet Owners Planting Spring Gardens Spraying Plants

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2. Plenty of garden products can be problematic.

Certain products like cocoa mulch and metaldehyde- and iron-based snail baits can be extremely toxic or even deadly to animals. Signs of poisoning may include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors and death. Even insecticides and herbicides (weed killers) can cause harm if not used correctly. Check out Dr. Tina Wismer's expert advice on these risks.

Pet Owners Planting Spring Gardens Organic Gardening

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3. Even organic substances can be toxic.

Using natural and organic products might help you feel confident you're doing right by your pet, but keep in mind that just because a product is organic doesn't mean it's not dangerous to animals. As Dr. Mary Fuller explains, organic substances like blood meal, bone meal and compost fertilizer can cause serious problems in our pets. The bottom line: Just because it's organic doesn't mean it's safe.

Pet Owners Planting Spring Gardens Lawn Service

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4. Let your lawn service know you have pets.

We can't all have a green thumb! If you're anticipating springtime assistance from a lawn or landscaping service, let the gardeners know in advance you have pets. Dr. Wismer says to ask them which products will be used and if there are any pet-related safety recommendations you need to know about. Verify when the gardening will be done, so you can keep your pets out of the yard until it's safe again, and ask for a legible receipt of the products that were used.

Pet Owners Planting Spring Gardens Dog Near Garden

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5. You can keep your dog from destroying your hard work!

We've provided a lot of education about how to protect your pets from your garden, but how about protecting your garden from your pets? For starters, you may want to surround your garden with pet-proof fencing or install raised garden beds instead of ground-level ones. If your dog is a digger who won't quit, give him a dog-friendly section of the yard (away from your beautiful garden) and use reward-based training to encourage him to dig only in that section.

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