Last summer I started a series on gardening with dogs, but never finished all I had planned to. So we’re continuing this summer with two more posts to finish the series. If you missed last summer’s, here are the links to each:
Part 1 – Introduction
Part 2 – Quiz – Do you know what these plants are and if they are safe for your dogs? Even though the prize giveaway is now closed, you can still have fun with this quiz and then find the answers in Part 3.
Part 3 – Quiz answers
Part 4 – Herbs
Part 5 – Levels of Toxicity – Not all plants that are toxic are deadly. Also common toxic and favorite non-toxic flowers.
The first posts in my series focused mainly on flowers and herbs. For this post I want to discuss some of the other things in your yard and garden that could be dangerous for dogs (and other pets).
There are many fruits and vegetables that are safe for dogs, and that are even very good for them. I often add fresh fruits and veggies to the dogs’ meals or as a snack (Luke loves many, Cricket – not so much). However, there are some that are not safe. When I decided to do just a little gardening at our then new house last year, one thing I definitely wanted was some tomato plants. I found some organic ones at a local farm stand and considered putting them in the garden area inside the dog yard – until I found out that tomato plants can be toxic to dogs and cats!
Tomato plants contain a substance called solanine that is toxic to dogs and cats. It might take them eating a lot of the plant to really make them ill, but I always default to “better safe than sorry”. I put the tomato plants in pots for that year and used that garden area for safe herbs instead. This year I have a new vegetable garden area where I planted them.
Other fruits and vegetables you might have in your yard or garden that can make dogs sick include:
- Raw garlic – garlic is under debate as far as it’s safety for dogs, but it is definite that whole raw garlic cloves are NOT good.
- Rhubarb (rhubarb leaves are toxic to humans as well)
- Cherries, apricots, and apples – the seeds and pits of these fruits are not safe for dogs, though the flesh of the fruits themselves are. The truth is, my dogs have eaten whole apples before with no ill effects. But you have to consider the size of your dog and the quantity of seeds eaten as well. Some of my early dogs ate grapes too, before I knew better.
I don’t know about where you are, but here in New England, whenever it rains a lot, the next thing you know mushrooms are popping up all over the yard (how they pop up so fast, I don’t know!). Although I’ve never seen any of my dogs pay attention to them, they still make me nervous. I know dogs who have died from eating wild mushrooms. Only 50 to 100 of 50,000 species of mushrooms are actually toxic, but how you can you know which ones are in your yard (other than trying to look each one up!)? Again, I go with “better safe than sorry”, so when I’m cleaning up the dog poop in the yard, I scoop up any mushrooms I see as well!
This is also where training things like “leave it” can be so important; mushrooms can also be anywhere you walk your dogs.
Avid gardeners know the advantages of mulch: it holds in moisture, keeps back weeds, and also makes flower beds look pretty! But not all mulches are safe for your dogs and there is one that is especially dangerous: any kind of cocoa mulch (bean or hull) contains “theobromine”, the same substance that makes chocolate toxic to dogs. It may be more attractive to them as well because of the smell, but either way, some dogs will eat anything off the ground and that can include mulch of any kind.
Therefore, I select my mulch carefully. I prefer a shredded bark mulch. The pieces are smaller so less likely to contain splinters as well. There are different varieties to choose from such as cedar, hemlock, and pine. My preference is pine because it tends to be more natural. The others sometimes contain dyes for color. I always read the bag carefully to be sure it is all natural and there is nothing added. There’s really no reason for it, other than looks, which is not my biggest concern! I prefer something that looks more natural anyway.
Pesticides and Fertilizers
I garden organically so pesticides have no place in my yard and gardens. I live in the country so I’m not looking to have that perfect lawn, and we have to find natural ways to get rid of insects. I would never have my dogs playing or lying on grass that had been treated with any kind of chemical. Luke eats grass like crazy – we call him a cow – so there is just no way. Whether or not it could immediately make your dog very ill is up for debate, but I also worry about how these chemicals contribute long-term to cancer.
I choose only organic fertilizers for my gardens. That’s one thing that having chickens is supposed to be good for – apparently chicken manure is one of the best organic fertilizers out there! However, we haven’t put that to use yet so I still had to buy fertilizer this year. The truth is not even organic fertilizers are safe for dogs, things like blood meal and bone meal are organic but they are toxic to pets. The worst thing is they can smell good to them as well.
I’ll never forget the time that our beagle Kobi was in my greenhouse with me when I was planting. I had a can of fertilizer out and he licked the top of it! I wasn’t worried because it was organic, and obviously he didn’t ingest much just off the cover, but it does show that it was attractive to him. Some of these things can make your dog extremely ill so it is best to keep them away from all fertilizers completely.
This year I planted some herbs, along with lettuce and kale in the garden that is inside the dog yard (seen above). I added a little fertilizer to the soil but I again fenced off the areas where I had put it, and put it only underneath the surface as well. While having dogs and gardens in the same area can make things like that a bit more work and challenging, I don’t mind. Knowing my dogs are safe from harm is always the most important thing to me.
The final post in our series is going to be about dog friendly plants that might also help repel insects – a special request from one of our friends/readers last year, and something I wanted to research for myself too!
Those mushrooms were a big pain this spring! Great advice! I separated out my vegetable garden area from the rest of my yard a few years ago. That way I don’t have to worry about what plants I grow.
I separated out all of my gardens at our old house when we got our golden retriever diggers! It’s much easier to plant the veggies without worry of them getting trampled on, etc., too!
Jodi Stone says
I did NOT know that about the tomato plant leaves! Thank you so much for sharing that.
I can’t wait until the final post in this series as I was just talking to Hubby about plants that we can use to repel insects and mice. But I also need to be careful because I have a ‘cow’ in my house too. Must be a lab thing….LOL
Thanks for doing the linky party!
You’re welcome! The mosquitoes have been really bad here this spring, which is what is motivating me to find out more about how we can repel them safely and naturally (other than hoping the chickens would eat them all…LOL).
GROOVY GOLDENDOODLES says
Mine is super safe because I don’t grow anything! LOL
That works too! 🙂
Beautiful … but deadly. I love these awareness kinds of posts – so many people have no idea how toxic plants and flowers can be for our furbabies. And there’s some difference between dogs and cats too! Looks like you found a system that’s safe for everyone. Thank you for linking up!
There are definitely differences for cats and dogs. That’s another reason I’m happy Sam is an indoor cat – I’d have had even more work to do pulling up plants when we moved in if she was out there too! 🙂
Anita Aurit says
We felines like to stroll through our garden but the humans learned that they have to watch what we snack on because Tucker ended up in emergency because a grass he chewed made him real sick. Good thing we have the humans to look out for us!
Purrs & Head Bonks,
So sorry to hear Tucker got sick, you are right it’s a very good thing we humans are here to look out for you guys! We’d like to think you know better than to eat things you shouldn’t, but how could you know, really, unless it didn’t taste very good?
Shadow and Ducky's Mom says
PS. I’m looking forward to the insect-repelling plants post!
I’m still working on my research, and waiting for some of the flowers to bloom so I can include my own photos in the post!
Shadow and Ducky's Mom says
No rush. I’m just looking forward to the results. ????
Shadow and Ducky's Mom says
Great post, Jan! The blasted mushrooms are driving me crazy this year – we had an unusually warm, wet winter and early spring so the blasted things are all over the place. Thankfully, Shadow and Ducky ignore them; but like you, I dig them up when I do my daily poop patrols. I think that at various times over their lifetimes, Callie and Shadow – and then Ducky – might have gotten sick over one and learned the hard way to ignore them.
Goodness…been so focused on keeping the floofs OUT of my garden I didn’t think about other dangers! Thanks so much for this
Brian Frum says
There’s danger everywhere, thank goodness for wise peeps!
M. K. Clinton says
This is wonderful information. I will bookmark it for when I plant my garden next year!
Monika & Sam says
We garden organically too and use vinegar to control weeds and unwanted grass along stone paths. Have to reapply but at least it’s not RoundUp or any other carcinogenic herbicide. Your garden is so neat and tidy. Ours looks like a wild hot mess. ????
I didn’t show my one flower garden that is also a big wild mess! I had a “recipe” once for some all natural weed killer, using vinegar as one of the ingredients. Does just plain vinegar work, and any certain kind? The pathway in my flower garden is getting really bad and I can’t keep up with pulling the weeds!
Monika & Sam says
I feel somewhat better knowing you have at least on bed like most of my yard! ???? I just use plan old white vinegar in the gigantic 1-1/2 gal. bottle from Costco ($3.00). I have used agricultural grade vinegar which has a 20% acid level (as opposed to 5 for table vinegar) but it is too pricey here. The table vinegar works best when the weeds are small and needs to be reapplied but sure beats having to hand plunk them any day. Good luck!
Two French Bulldogs says
Great info. I stole a tomato
Edward (& Lily)
You’re silly! Did you actually eat it? 🙂
Sand spring Chesapeake says
Thanks for all the great information. My gang loves cherry tomatoes, theybpluck them all off before I get to them. Luckily that is all they eat and not the leaves
That is too funny! I’ve never seen a dog pick tomatoes. though our beagle Kobi used to love to pick wild black raspberries when we went on walks. I’ll have to see if Luke likes tomatoes!
thanks for this posts… it is always a challenge to pick the right plants… I once ordered 87 or more via catalog… but I fortunately asked the seller if they are dangerous for dogs… at the end I bought two… sigh…
we have the fresh mulched area fenced now after phenny started to eat the pieces… he threw up like a fountain… so this stuff is probably everything but never “naturally”…
Fences are sometimes a necessity when you have dogs too! 🙂
Gardens are a lot of work. We only have our 5 flower pots to deal with and that is enough for us. Then there are all the shrubs and trees that need to be cut back, etc. Summer is a lot of work.
It is a lot of work! There’s so much to try to get done, and then it’s over before we know it (which I know you’re happy about!).