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Humane Society of Greater Dayton

Keep Pets Safe When Gardening



We’ve all heard of the potential risks that household items can pose to our pets, but protecting our animals shouldn’t stop once we leave the confines of our home. This time of year, many of us spend time outdoors tending to our gardens, but did you know there are things in your garden that can create a potentially harmful situation for your pets. Here are just a few of the things you will need to look out for to keep your furry friends safe.


Although fertilizers can provide your plants with the food they need to grow and flourish, they can also wreak havoc on your pet’s stomach. If your pets digests fertilizer they can have an upset stomach or could even get a life-threatening obstruction in their gastrointestinal tract. To solve this problem, read the instructions on your fertilizer and make sure you follow the recommended waiting period before you let your pets outdoors.



Like fertilizer, these products are needed to keep your plants healthy. However, when it comes to pets these items can be quite harmful. Some of the most dangerous pesticides you could use include fly bait with methomyl, systemic insecticides with either disyston or disulfoton, snail bait with metaldehyde, rat poisons and mole or gopher bait with zinc phosphide. Before you use these items read the directions. The manufacturer’s label will tell you how to properly and securely store these items and how to use them in a safe manner.


Composting can be one of the best things you can do for your plants and for the environment, but what you are tossing into your compost pile can be hazardous to your pets. From coffee grounds to certain types of fruits and vegetables, there are many human foods that are toxic to cats and dogs. To avoid your pet getting sick, create a secure compost area that pets cannot gain access to or omit toxic scraps from your pile all together.

Cocoa Bean Mulch

The shells of cocoa beans are used by many gardeners to add a rich color and wonderful smell to their gardens, but like chocolate, cocoa bean mulch can be toxic to your pets. Dogs are attracted to the sweet smell and will be tempted to eat your mulch. A range of symptoms can occur if your pet eats cocoa bean mulch including vomiting, diarrhea, an elevated heart rate or even seizures. If these occur, contact your vet immediately. To avoid this problem all together, use an alternative form of mulch such as shredded pine or cedar pieces.

Garden Tools

These items may seem innocent enough, but unattended tools can be harmful to the curious pets in our lives. Do not leave these tools out when pets are outside playing. Make sure to store these sharp tools properly to protect your pet’s paws or nose from any harm.

Fleas and Ticks

These pesky bugs love to lurk in tall grasses, which is why it is important to keep your yards mowed and keep your pets out of any areas with tall grass. If your pet gets fleas or ticks on them, visit your vet. They can provide treatments to care for your pets and make them feel better.

Poisonous Plants

Although there may be some plants that are great for your garden, there are also some that are potentially dangerous or even fatal to your pets. A short list of these plants include rhododendron, cactus, dieffenbachia, amaryllis, ivy, mistletoe, lilies, caladium, azalea, creeping Charlie and sago palms. We’ve found it is easier to just avoid these plants rather than having to constantly worry about your pet possibly consuming them.


Do you have a question for Brian? E-mail him at Brian Weltge is the President and CEO of the Humane Society of Greater Dayton. The Humane Society is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to building loving relationships between people and pets. Founded 113 years ago, it is the largest and most established “no-kill” animal welfare agency in the area. It focuses on pet adoptions, eliminating pet overpopulation, providing education and ensuring the humane treatment of animals. For more information about the Humane Society of Greater Dayton, call 937-268-PETS (7387) or visit

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