Dog in garden.

The love of plants and the love of animals often go hand-in-hand. Many plants, however, are toxic to pets and the avid gardener must always have this in the back of their mind. Volunteer Veterinary Hospital knows, though, that plants and pets can coexist harmoniously. Read on to learn how to be sure that your gardening is pet-safe gardening. 

Pet Safe Gardening Practices

The key to pet-safe gardening has a lot to do with being aware of what hazards exist for our pets. 

Consider things like:

  • Pesticides (in particular disulfoton pesticides and metaldehydes for slugs and snails) can be dangerous for pets
  • Herbicides like Roundup can also cause serious issues if ingested
  • Lawn and garden chemicals often have the potential for problems

In most cases, if an organic option exists for your plants, it is the safest option for your pets as well. The more we study, the more we see increases in risk of cancer and other long-term issues associated with gardening chemicals. 

Choices like aerating your lawn, using natural fertilizer, planting native plants that are more resistant to disease, and hand pulling weeds can go a long way towards minimizing chemical use. 

Another potential garden hazard is the compost pile. If you compost, be sure your pile is secure from curious animals so that toxicity from the byproducts of decomposition are not a worry. 

Pet poisoning prevention is an important part of pet-safe gardening and pet wellness in general. If you have any questions about keeping your pet safe or concerns about a potential exposure, don’t hesitate to call us right away

Picking Your Plants Wisely

Of course, what is gardening without plants? Some plants are definite pet no-nos, but there are plenty of options to plant indoors and out that can work with pets. 

On the absolute no list, though, are:

  • Sago palms (chewing any of the plant or nut they produce can lead to liver failure)
  • Lilies for cat owners (all parts of the lily plant are extremely toxic to cats and even just licking pollen off of a paw can have serious consequences
  • Desert rose
  • Oleander

Other plants may cause digestive upset if eaten. If you know what plants you have in your home and yard, you can do a better job assessing risk. The ASPCA maintains a comprehensive list of a wide variety of indoor and outdoor plants and what potential toxic effects they have for pets. 

You can definitely include your pets in your gardening as well. Catnip and cat grass are easy to grow. Boston ferns and bamboo can make great places for pets to hide or explore. Most herbs are also pet-friendly.

Both pets and plants can have wonderful effects on our health and well-being. With a little forethought, there is no reason that you can enjoy both.