Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dog Safety Garden Tips

When we first moved into this house, I was most concerned with making the interior the way I wanted it to look and feel. I like home to be soft, plush, comfy fabrics in grounded and warm earthy colors. A "come on in and make yourself at home" kind of place. Last summer, I finally started thinking about what message I wanted the outside of my house to send. I decided that friendly and inviting to me meant bright and cheerful happy flowers and smells.

I know very little about gardens and plants and tend to keep stuff around that can survive my neglect. I don't know the names of most plants and tend to pick things because they are pretty. I plant them and they promptly die because of too much or to little water, sun, or nutrients. You know, all the things plants need to survive. Last fall I actually did some research and realized everything I had planted in the back yard could have been mildly toxic to Ollie, Marshall, and their friends. Thankfully, my dogs are not grazers for the most part. Occasionally they will munch on some grass, but mostly they leave my plants alone. Planning my backyard gardens meant making a list of plants and products not to buy in the back yard.

I am working outside prepping my gardens this week and designing what I want them to look like. The dogs are happy to be outside with me when I'm in the back yard and Orange Cat happily supervises my gardening in the front yard from a sunny spot on the porch. (He also sings along with me. I'm on a mission to capture this on video.)

Here is my list of plants to avoid in areas your dog will be unsupervised:

Tulips, Daffodils, Crocus and other plants with bulbs: For a digging dog, the bulb is a sweet reward for a hole well dug. Bulbs are crunchy, ball-shaped and highly toxic. This is a bad combination for a pooch.

Some fern varieties: Asparagus, Emerald, Lace, and Plumosa ferns: all cause dermatitis and have toxic berries.

Perennials: Ivy, Morning Glory, Oleander, Rhododendron, Phlox, Roses, Catnip, Bee Balm, Columbine, Hosta, Queen of the Meadow, Lily of the Valley, Trumpet vine
Annuals: Zinnia, Snapdragons, Cosmos, Petunias, Butterfly flowers, Primrose, Impatiens, Begonia

Vegetables: onion, chives, garlic. The plant part of tomato and potato plants are toxic.
Fruit: grape skins are highly toxic as are the cyanide-containing seeds/pits in apples, peaches, plums, and cherries.

Products: There was some concern awhile back about cocoa mulch and dogs. Cocoa mulch contains high levels of theobromine which is very toxic to dogs. In fact, there is more theobromine in unfiltered cocoa mulch than there is in baker's chocolate, so small amounts could be dangerous. There is record of one dog has ever died from eating this type of mulch. Because of this, most cocoa mulch companies have started cleansing programs that remove most of the theobromine. Think about your dog's natural desire to taste, graze, or ingest plants in your yard and do use caution and read the bag. It's better to be safe than sorry.

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