Spring is approaching and as we prepare to put in our garden, it is important to be aware of the dangers right outside our door that may harm our pets. Certain spring flowers, aerating the soil and activating sprinkler systems can all pose problems for our pets.
Tulips, daffodils and garden hyacinths are toxic to dogs and to cats. Although all parts of the plant are toxic, it is the bulbs that actually contain the most toxins. Keep these plants in an area that cannot be accessed by your pets or monitor them when they are near these particular plants. Non-toxic bulbs, such as spring crocus and grape hyacinth are safe to plant in areas where your pets frequent.
Spring is the time when we should aerate our lawns, however, some pet owners have electric fences and aerating can puncture the electric fence mechanism and allow dogs to escape. When you are having your lawn aerated, make sure the underground apparatus has not been severed. It is best to keep your dog inside while your lawn is being aerated and if you have a pet door, be sure to close it while the work is being done. If you have an electric fence, it’s a good idea to test it before letting your dog back into the yard.
When activating the sprinkler system, be sure to check for damage to the nozzles or pipes that can occur from freezing winter temperatures. Oftentimes the damage can cause leaks or running water and dogs may be tempted by the water to start digging or eating the leaky sprinklers. When turning on the irrigation system for the first time, check for any leaks prior to letting your pup into the yard by himself. If he finds a puddle or a waterlogged area, he may be attracted to it and dig in that spot. This is a problem that is easier to prevent than it is to correct.
Another common problem is dogs chewing on the irrigation system. If your pooch tries to eat the sprinklers, it is best to run them at night so he cannot hear them or see the running water. If you have pet doors, keep them closed on the nights you are running the sprinklers. If your dog digs up irrigation pipe, you can secure them with landscape fabric pins or alternately, bury them 6 to 8 inches down rather than the typical 4 inches below the surface.
Some pups try to eat the irrigation risers, the long “stick” with a nozzle at the end used to water flowers and shrubs. If your dog is doing this, install drips rather than risers. Some sprinkler companies offer risers that are made of copper, and although they are comparatively expensive, but you may find that they are worth it in the long run.
Always investigate whether the fertilizers you are using are safe for use around pets. Contact poison control before using any product, if you have any concerns. If you are using soil amendments, such as manure or fish emulsion, be sure to monitor your pets when they are in the yard. Many dogs are attracted to the odor and will dig in the gardens anywhere it was applied.
Elizabeth Bublitz is an animal friendly gardening expert, author and owner of Pawfriendly Landscapes. Follow Elizabeth on Twitter
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