Spring Gardening

Tonya Tenters, CVT
Veterinary Information Specialist 

It may only be mid- January, but a lot of people start to plan their spring planting now. What is easy to forget is that we may have pets that either have access to the supplies or the planted area. It is important to understand what some of the risks are to our pets before the planting occurs and after.

The supplies that we are likely to keep in a shed or a garage are potting soil, fertilizer, insecticides, herbicides, plant bulbs, and seeds. Any one of these items could potentially pose a health risk to your animal. The first step is to try and make sure that the pets do not have access to any of these items but we all know that cats and dogs have ways of getting into things.

Potting soil and fertilizer can contain iron that in large doses can be a toxicity concern. Bone meal, blood meal, and fish meal are other types of plant foods that are really appealing to both dogs and cats. This means that they may eat a lot of it at once. With large ingestions these products, there is a concern for clumping in the gastrointestinal tract and it causes an obstruction.

Herbicides and insecticides are designed to kill plants and insects. There are many options and they all have different active ingredients. A lot of the over the counter sprays contain low concentrations of the active ingredients but can still pose a risk if an animal is exposed. Keeping these items well away from our pets and strictly following the labeled instructions can go a long way towards keeping our pets safe. If a pest control officer is the one to handle these tasks, then make sure that they know that you have animals and what kind.

Plants and bulbs are an integral part of our gardens. When plotting and planning out our gardens, know your plants and if they are a toxicity concern. This can help you determine where to plant them or if they are the right ones for your yard. Dogs, especially, are known to chew and eat things that they should not. Therefore, we want to careful what we plant in a yard that they have free range in. Know your dogs and their habits when deciding what you want to plant. If you have bulbs that you are storing for the next planting season, make sure you label them and keep them out of reach of the animals.

A lot of people love to garden, and we do not want to take the fun out of it! However, we do need to take our pets into consideration for potential exposure to certain items and plants. Keep a list of what you have planted, this way if they ingest a plant you can say for certain what it is. If you use all of a fertilizer in a pot, note what kind it was or keep the label taped to the bottom of the pot. This way if a pet eats some the ingredients are readily available. Do some research before planting and become familiar with the items used, so if something did happen you have as much information available as possible for emergency and veterinary staff.