Spring is finally here: the temperature is rising, the flowers are starting to bloom and the evenings are becoming lighter, meaning we have more time throughout the day to enjoy the garden with our pets.
Whether you have a dog or cat, our pets love to explore the garden, coming into contact with a new environment which inhabits different scents, textures and green living organisms. However, our outside space can expose dogs and cats to a few spring hazards, as they can come into contact with poisonous plants, garden materials and creatures which can make them very ill.
Poisonous House and Garden Plants to Dogs
Although some of our household favourites, there are several types of flowers and plants which are poisonous to dogs. When out in the garden, dogs love to dig in the soil and, unfortunately for gardeners, chew the leaves of flowers and plants. Some plants and flowers can be highly toxic to dogs if ingested and can make our pets very unwell.
Here is a list of some of the more common plants which are toxic to dogs, but there are others too:
- Amaryllis bulbs
- Daffodil bulbs
- Narcissus bulbs
If you have these plants in your garden, you should be aware that they could be hazardous to your pet. The biggest risk is with new pets, where owners don’t know whether they will eat or chew on the plants. If you have a new pet and hazardous plants in your garden, it is best to supervise your pet until you know their behaviour well. A dog may also chew plant cuttings after an owner has been gardening, even if they don’t usually take an interest in them, so it’s sensible to be vigilant after gardening.
Poisonous house and garden plants to cats
There are also some common house and garden plants which are hazardous to our cat’s health. The following list includes some of the more commonly seen plants which are poisonous to cats and if ingested, could make them very unwell:
- Dumb cane
- Sweet pea
In particular, cats are more commonly affected than dogs from contact with indoor plants, which tend to be placed at height or on a similar level to where cats can access them. As well as growing plants, it’s also important to remember that cut flowers in the home can pose a risk with toxicity; lilies are a very common risk for cats and with extremely serious consequences.
Signs and symptoms of plant poisoning in cats and dogs
If you’re worried whether your cat or dog has ingested any of the poisonous plants identified above, they may show signs of:
- Feeling weak
As soon as you suspect that your pet has eaten a hazardous plant, get in touch with your local vet immediately. If you’re in doubt whether a plant is pet-friendly, it’s best not to place it in the home or the garden at all to avoid any risk of making them unwell.
What garden plants are dog-friendly?
Luckily for green-fingered pet owners, there are several dog-friendly, non-toxic garden plants available in most plant stores which provide no hazardous risk to your dog. You can plant any of the following flowers and plants in your garden feeling confident that they won’t harm your dog if they bite or chew them.
- African Violet
- Berry plants (strawberry, raspberry, blueberry)
- Lambs Ears (Stachys byzantina)
- Venus fly traps
What garden plants are cat-friendly?
There are also many cat-friendly plants available which can be planted in the garden or placed around the home. If your cat chews or ingests the pollen from any of the following plants they pose no toxicity risk, these plants include:
- African Violet
- Baby’s breath
- Boston ferns
- Dactylis glomerata (cat grass)
- Miscanthus (maiden grass)
- Nepeta (cat mint)
- Spider plants
Dog-friendly garden surfaces
Depending on the surface, the garden path can also be hazardous for pets. Pebbles, stones and gravel can easily be ingested, particularly if you have a young puppy who is tempted to chew new and exciting objects. These materials can also get stuck in your pet’s paws, in between their pads, which can make it painful to walk once they become lodged.
Read our spring pet advice to learn more about garden hazards and to find out what plants are dog and cat-friendly.
Pesticides, slugs and snails
Dogs can become very ill if they ingest an infected slug or snail. Lungworm larvae, which is found in an infected snail, slug or frog, can grow inside your dog or cat and cause haemorrhages in their vital organs and can be fatal.
Using chemical pesticides to reduce the risk of slugs and snails entering your garden may seem like an obvious choice to get rid of these pests, however, most slug and snail pellets are also highly toxic to dogs and cats. The pellets can look appealing to our pets who may lick or eat them, but they are highly toxic and contain a chemical called metaldehyde, which can make them seriously unwell.
If your pet eats pesticide pellets, the symptoms of poisoning are noticeable within an hour and your pet may show signs of:
- Your pet may seem disorientated
- They could collapse
- Experience tremors
- Drooling and panting
- Sickness and diarrhoea
- A high temperature
Please seek veterinary help immediately if your dog or cat is showing any of these symptoms.
Grass seeds can easily get stuck and buried in your pet’s ears and eyes which can be very painful. The seeds have pointy ends which can burrow down and pierce into your dog’s skin if they get trapped in their fur.
Dogs with longer fur are more prone to picking up grass seeds, particularly if they’re walking through fields or if they roll around in the grass. If you think your dog has got a seed embedded, they may limp, lick or hold up their paw, or they may shake their head and paw at their ears if one gets stuck in that area.
To prevent your pet from picking up grass seeds, keep their fur trimmed short and brush their fur down after a walk so you can remove any that may become trapped in their fur.
Additional spring pet care advice:
For more information on how to care for your pet, visit our blog. If you’re ever in doubt whether your pet is unwell, contact us online or call your local surgery to book a free consultation with your nearest Animal Trust surgery.