Animal Friendly Gardening

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Many gardeners love animals as much as they love their plants and many have their own animal friends, but efforts to make your garden beautiful can pose a few risks for the animals you love. Thousands of pets are rushed to animal hospitals each year with potentially deadly exposure to pesticides, weed killers and toxic plants. Take these precautions to keep your garden animal friendly.

Pesticides can be extremely poisonous to your pets and other animals visiting your garden, but they can also be hazardous to the earth and your family. It is best not to use them at all. If you cannot avoid using pesticides, make sure to keep them out of reach from your pets and make sure to keep them inside while you apply the pesticide and until the toxins have dissipated. Read the label to determine how long the toxin will remain. Some of the most dangerous pesticides include snail bait with metaldehyde, fly bait with methomyl, mole bait with zinc phosphide and insecticides with the ingredients disyston or disulfoton and most rat poisons.

Fertilizer and Compost
Fertilizer and compost provide much needed nutrients for your plants, but the wrong mix of compost or fertilizer can cause some serious health issues for your pets. Ingesting large amounts of fertilizer may upset your pet’s stomach and can cause a gastrointestinal obstruction, which can become life threatening. Be sure to use a safe, organic fertilizer like Grower's Secret 521, which is completely non-toxic. Compost is great for your plants and the environment but can be toxic to your pets if it contains moldy foods or foods that are poisonous to pets, such as coffee, chocolate and grapes. Also, make sure never to use cocoa mulch, which is extremely toxic to pets.

Poisonous Plants
Many common plants can cause gastrointestinal problems or heart or liver failure. Some plants that are nutritious for us are toxic to dogs, some plants that are safe for dogs are poisonous to cats and vice versus. Make sure to research the toxicity of a plant as related to your pet before planting. Rhododendron, azalea, lily of the valley, autumn crocus, carnations, many fruit trees and many other plants are dangerous when consumed by your cat or dog. Mushrooms are also extremely poisonous and can cause liver failure.

What to Do if You Suspect a Poisoning
If your pet is exhibiting abnormal behavior, vomiting or has abnormal or uncontrollable diarrhea, call your vet, animal hospital or animal poison control center right away. Pets can also have allergic reactions to plants, just like us. Try to keep your pets out of unfamiliar yards and call your vet for proper allergy medication if you suspect an allergic reaction.

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