Our Top Three Summer Garden Safety Tips

July 25, 2019

Dog outside

A very popular way to get some sun and enjoy the warm weather in the summer is gardening outside. For many, gardening is a relaxing, fruitful hobby—literally if you're planting your own fruits and vegetables!

However, gardening can bring a few risks to our favorite furry friends, and it is important to be mindful and keep them safe while enjoying your summer pastimes. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) is sharing our top three summer garden safety tips to ensure that you and your pets stay safe and enjoy this summertime together.

1. Know Your Fruits and Veggies

While we all enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables for our summer menus, some common produce found in gardens could cause illness in pets when ingested. 

Members of the Allium family (onions, leeks, garlic and chives) can be toxic to your pet if ingested in large quantities. These plants may damage red blood cells, resulting in anemia.

Additionally, tomato plants and unripe tomatoes contain tomatine, which is a toxin that may cause vomiting, weakness and even heart issues. As the fruit grows and ripens, the level of tomatine decreases, meaning that ripe tomatoes are a suitable treat for your pet on occasion in moderation.

Raw potatoes are another source of significant gastrointestinal (GI) upset, but cooked potatoes are a safe treat if fed in moderation. 

2. Be Mindful of a Healthy Garden, and a Healthy Pet

We all know that dogs love to dig. And fertilizers, compost and mulches not only attract some dogs to the area, but these common garden aides may also cause illness in pets.

Fertilizers are irritating to the stomach and can cause significant vomiting if consumed. Some of the organic types of fertilizers (including bone and blood meal, or fish meal) may contain ingredients that could also cause joint and muscle soreness, stiffness and even tummy upset.

In addition, composts can be an issue as well. Composts, though good for our gardens, may contain molds that could cause severe illness and produce symptoms such as tremors and/or GI signs.

Cocoa bean mulches are another common aide seen in gardens, and they have a wonderful chocolate odor that is attractive to dogs. But be careful; if consumed, these mulches will lead to theobromine (the active toxic ingredient in chocolate) toxicity, which causes rapid heart rates, tremors, and seizures. Very large ingestions of these mulches may be fatal.

3. Don’t Forget the Plants

It’s no secret that certain plants can cause issues for our furry friends! Flowering plants such as azaleas, rhododendrons and fox glove are all potentially toxic to animals due to their effects on the heart. Sago palm is another ornamental and common plant that is acutely toxic and can cause damage to the liver that may result in fatalities. If any of these plants are ingested, seek veterinary care or call the APCC hotline immediately.  

Stay Alert, Prevent Exposures and Have Fun with Your Pets

Knowing that your pet is safe, happy and healthy will allow you to make the most of your yard and garden this summer. So, what’s the best practice for keeping your pets safe while romping in your summer garden?

Make sure that your garden is fenced and try to keep your pet out of the area. When outside, keep an eye on your furry friends and don’t leave them unsupervised around any tempting garden plants and be mindful of which plants and produce pose a danger. Additionally, keep any fertilizers, compost, mulch or chemicals up and far out of paws’ reach.

If your pet does get into a summer garden toxin, or any other poisonous substance, please call your local veterinarian or APCC at (888) 426-4435 immediately.