What Dangers Are Lurking in Your Garden?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - 2:45pm

No, we’re not talking about weeds, folks. Though they are quite the threat to your garden, the dangers we’re talking about are far more hazardous. In fact, they can be downright deadly.

Every year the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) receives tens of thousands of calls involving animal companions who’ve been exposed to common garden hazards, including the following:

Poisonous Plants
When designing and planting your green space, keep in mind that many popular outdoor plants—including sago palm, rhododendron and azalea—are very toxic to cats and dogs. Please visit our full list of toxic and non-toxic plants for your garden. 

Just like you, plants need food. But pet parents, take care—the fertilizer that keeps our plants healthy and green can wreak havoc on the digestive tracts of our furry friends.

Cocoa Mulch
Many gardeners use cocoa bean shells—a by-product of chocolate production—in landscaping. Popular for its attractive odor and color, cocoa mulch can pose serious problems for our canine companions.

Like fertilizer, herbicides, insecticide baits, sprays and granules are often necessary to keep our gardens healthy, but their ingredients aren't meant for four-legged consumption. The most dangerous forms of pesticides include snail bait with metaldehyde, fly bait with methomyl, systemic insecticides with the ingredients disyston or disulfoton and most forms of rat poisons.

For more garden hazards, please read our complete Guide to Pet-Safe Gardening.Your pet is depending on you.

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Tresa Megenity

cocoa mulch killed a beloved dog of mine. He demonstrated lethargy for about 3 days (the vet suspected poisoning, but I had no idea at the time it was from the mulch) and then a gran mal seizure. He was brain dead and had to be put down. I was devastated and would have bought organic mulch if I had known.


In all fairness, I would consider cocoa mulch to be organic. Also, wouldn't think an animal would find it attractive! Thank you for this info. How come this list is so incomplete?


Do the animals have to eat the plants to get sick?


What about if the dog eats rabbit feces ? Also, I bought rabbit repellent -will this get my dog sick?


Rabbit feces aren't harmful to dogs. It's not recommended that they be allowed to eat large quantities, but I can't keep my dogs away from the rabbit poop in my yard. My dogs have been snacking on rabbit poop for years (I have a pet rabbit and they sometimes remove the tray from the cage) and they haven't been adversely affected. There are snacks that you can give a pet rabbit that will make it less attractive to the pooch, but that doesn't solve the problem of wild rabbits that enter your yard. If you have a problem, spritz a little water in their face (using a water bottle) and say "no" when they eat stuff in the yard.


Rabbit feces ARE harmful to dogs. My vet just informed me today that my dog has diarrhea due to whatever rabbit feces she ate in my backyard.

marlene lawrence

I would like to know if mandevilla is toxic. You're site does not list this plant. Other sites list it as non toxic and still others as toxic. There is varying opinion on clematis as well and honeysuckle. Are these deadly?