Dogs (and some cats) need to be able to get outside for exercise, but your yard could contain hazards. Chemical pesticides, landscape elements and design features all might pose a threat to your pooch. Fortunately, a few changes can turn your yard into a safe haven where your pets can run and play. Here are some tips to ensure the well-being of your animal:
1. Reduce Harmful Toxic Household Products
Both cats and dogs like to roll around in the grass and may even get into your flower beds. In many yards, this can be an issue. Fertilizers and pesticides that contain chemicals are dangerous for you and your pets (though mainly for your animals, unless you also run through the hedge and nibble on petals). Switch out your chemical-based fertilizers and other products for organic varieties. You’ll feel better letting your dog run around knowing that it will encounter safe products.
Read the ingredients before you buy gardening supplies. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, iron, bone meal, blood meal and feather meal are common ingredients that are attractive yet toxic to dogs. If your pet ingests these products, it could cause a blockage in its gastrointestinal track. Also look out for organophosphates, a chemical found in many rose-care products that is very harmful to dogs.
2. Plant Wisely
Not all garden plants are safe for pets, and if you plan on letting your animal run about the yard then you should know which botanicals to avoid. Sago palm, lily of the valley, crocuses and lilies are all harmful plants that can cause adverse effects when your pets ingest them. If your pet experiences adverse symptoms because of any of the following plants, get it to the vet immediately:
Lilies: Lilies, whether planted indoors or out, can be deadly to cats. Even pollen exposure can cause kidney failure and ingesting the plant may lead to death.
Lily of the valley: Dogs and cats that ingest this plant may face vomiting, diarrhea, a decrease in blood pressure or even have a seizure.
Sago palm: This plant is harmful for dogs, and may cause severe vomiting, liver failure, damage to the stomach lining, bloody stools and, in some cases, death.
Crocuses: Spring crocuses are harmful for cats and dogs, though not severely. However, fall crocuses are highly toxic, and may induce astrointestinal bleeding, bone marrow suppression, severe vomiting and multisystem organ failure.
3. Monitor Pets Closely
Even if you have a fenced-in yard, you should still try to monitor your pets. For example, dogs are like children around water features (such as ponds and pools), and should be watched. You can stand outside while your dog runs laps or you can watch its behavior indoors with your home security system camera. The SMART Connect app allows you to watch live video feed from your computer or smartphone. Set up a camera in your yard to keep tabs on your pets. You may even consider adding a motion sensor near the perimeter of the yard to detect if your dog escapes. Should it move past a certain point, the alarm system will sound.
4. Escape-Proof the Yard
If you’re letting your pets roam without a leash, you want your yard to be enclosed and escape-proof. Regularly check your fences for damage and monitor the dirt beneath – your dog or another animal may have started digging under the fence. You can also add shrubs along the fence line to create more obstacles. If your dog has trouble getting to the fence, it’s less likely to make it out of the yard.
Avoid placing tall objects near the fence that can act as a stepping stool for your pets. A dog house, bench or boxes, for example, can help it jump over the wall around your yard.