Is your garden a danger zone for your pet?

While you might like pretty blooms or your overgrown ‘oasis’, some seemingly harmless things can be deadly for pets

08 May 2016 By Leanne Philpott Comments

Inquisitive puppies and curious kitties love nothing more than romping around in the garden and hiding in flower beds, but are you aware of all the nasties and creepy crawlies in your backyard that could be harmful to your fur baby?

cat and dog sniffing flowers

When you’re looking to pet-proof your garden it’s important to take note of all the things curious little noses might find. Garden plants and bugs are one of the biggest threats to household pets, while tools, chemicals, leftover building materials, and even garden décor can be just as dangerous too.

Plants to watch out for in your garden

Many different types of indoor and outdoor plants can cause serious harm to your pet, often it’s the more beautiful and useful plants that pose the biggest risks. So be aware of what’s hiding in your garden As poisonous plants can cause kidney failure, intestinal and stomach issues, paralysis and, in the worst cases, they can even cause death.

Dog and cat in the gardenIt is recommended that puppies and kittens aged under 18 months be very closely monitored while roaming in the garden. Flowerbeds, vegetable patches and planted areas should be fenced off.

The most common poisonous plants in the garden include:

  • Bulbs— onion and all the spring favourites e.g. daffodils, tulips and snowdrops
  • Castor oil plants
  • Iris, Jasmine and Lilac varieties— the seed pods and flowers can be very nasty to pets if ingested
  • Liliums (Lilies)— all parts of the plant are particularly deadly to kittens and cats
  • Brunfelsia— especially dangerous to puppies if any part of the plants are eaten including the fruit which grows after flowering
  • Wandering Jew— an insatiable weed that grows in darker, moist places and is very tricky to remove
  • Wildflowers and wild mushrooms


TIP: While it’s not a plant as such, the Macadamia nut can be lethal for dogs. The toxic principle is unknown but the signs of poisoning include: depression, hyperthermia, weakness, muscular stiffness, increased heart rate, tremors and vomiting so keep Macadamia nuts out of reach of your canine chum.


Insects that pose a danger to your pet

We all hate creepy crawlies in the garden and even more so when they make their way inside! Many of the bugs attracted to your backyard can be very dangerous for your pet. Regularly check your pet’s fur, mouth and sensitive feet for any nasties they may have picked up outside including:

  • Fleas— they hide in cool shaded areas until a new ‘host’ like you puppy or kitten walks past and jump on, quickly becoming an itchy menace
  • Ticks— they also like to hide out in cool, wooded areas until they can latch on, they then feed off the hosts blood, and can transmit a variety of blood diseases and even attach to humans
  • Stinging bugs such as bees, wasps or ants— just like humans, your pet’s skin is vulnerable to the pain, swelling and itching that comes from bites or stings, keeping curious noses away from nests and monitoring their behaviour is the best fix
  • Caterpillars, moths and butterfly— their ‘slime’ and the casings of their cacoons, as well as their wings when they have developed, can contain harmful toxins


Common symptoms of poisoning include: vomiting, diarrhoea, hyper-salivation, lethargy and abdominal discomfort. If you suspect your pet has been affected by a poison or insect bite, take them to a vet for attention immediately.


How safe is your garden?

Everyday garden fertilisers and insecticides contain a cocktail of ingredients that can be deadly for dogs and cats, they come in liquid, granular and solid forms and are made up of different amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium— all ingredients that can cause nasty gastrointestinal irritations in pets.

Less common fertilisers such as blood meal and meat meal (fine powders made of blood and meat products with a high protein content) can be attractive to dogs and some cats so make sure they are properly stored away from the reach of super-sensitive nostrils.

Rat and mouse poisons are one of the most common causes of pet poisoning and injury. The poisons contain anticoagulants which stop the clotting of the blood; these chemicals can also affect your pets in the same way. The RSPCA suggests trying more human ways of taking care of infestations such as live and snap traps.

National Poison Prevention Week 2017 runs from March 19-25. For more information, visit the Pet Poison Helpline. NOTE: this is an American site (unfortunately Australia doesn’t have a pet poison helpline) but the information is useful. Alternatively, contact your local vet.


Written by Erin Donovan

08 May 2016 By Leanne Philpott Comments

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