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Gardening With Dogs: Tips for Creating a Pet-Safe Garden

These are safety considerations you need to think about when gardening with dogs

Sassafras Lowrey  |  Jun 2nd 2020


Over the last several weeks, I have spent most weekends and many evenings in the yard with my dogs putting in new flower beds. I always appreciate the fresh air and canine companionship but, unfortunately, a lot of plants commonly planted in gardens are hazardous to dogs. Here’s how to create a pet-safe garden.

These plants are dog safe 

If you are planning on planting a garden, keep the safety of your dog in mind when selecting plants. Figuring out what plants are dog safe can be tricky

According to Dr. Nancy Vail, Medical Director of NorthStar Vets Veterinary Emergency Trauma & Specialty Center’s Maple Shade Hospital, even if there are fruits or vegetables that are safe to share with our dogs, the plants themselves — specifically the seeds, leaves and stems —  can be toxic.

She suggests a few dog-safe plants, such as most species of squash, Baby’s Breath, Bamboo, African Daisy and African violets.

If you’re looking for additional dog-safe plants to add to your garden, the fastest way to check if a plant is safe is the ASPCA Poison Control’s online resources about toxic plants.  I keep this bookmarked on my phone to check when I’m at a garden center.

These are some of toxic plants you’ll need to avoid

Toxic plants can make dogs sick or even result in death. “The toxicosis that results from the exposure to a particular plant can be variable from mild nausea to skin irritation, depression, heart problems, trouble breathing, seizures or death,” says Dr. Vail.

Dr. Vail suggests keeping a log of the plants and products used in your garden in case your dog becomes ill and is suspected of having ingested something he shouldn’t have.

Here are a few common plants Dr. Vail says gardeners with dogs should avoid:

  • Amaryllis
  • Holly
  • Carnations
  • Clematis
  • Daffodils
  • Nightshade

If your dog consumes any plants in your yard that are toxic, call your vet or closet emergency veterinary hospital immediately and follow their instructions.

It isn’t just plants that can hurt our dogs in the garden. Dr. Vail says that mulch and fertilizer can both be harmful to your dog. Similarly, pesticides designed to remove insects from the garden can cause your dog to become ill and should be limited or used with caution.

Related: Are There Plants in Your Garden That Could Poison Your Pooch? 

ArtistGNDphotography/ Getty Images

How to involve your dogs in the garden

Although there are a number of plant-based risks involving your dog in gardening, it can be done safely. Build garden beds in areas of your yard that your dog doesn’t have unsupervised access to and keep your dog leashed while you garden. Have treats and bring a toy or chew for your dog to enjoy while you tend your plants. It’s also a great opportunity to teach or practice your dog’s “Leave it,” skills and always prevent your dog from chewing or eating any of your plants, mulch or plant clippings. With supervision and proper planning your dog can safely accompany you into the garden.

Read Next: Teaching Your Dog to Leave It 

Top photograph: ArtistGNDphotography / Getty Images