10 tips for gardening with dogs

Posted by Dr. Jules Benson on May 17 2010


The sun is shining, the sky is blue, and chances are, every time you are out in the garden, your dog is right there beside you, putting all four of his green paws to work on your flower beds.

Over the past year, Petplan has paid out numerous claims to pet owners whose dogs and cats have helped themselves to the fruits (and nuts, and mushrooms) of their labor. And the reasons range from accidentally breaking a plant pot with one’s head (vet bills totaling $250), to swallowing too many cypress nuts (with vet bills totaling more than $1,200).

To avoid an unexpected, and costly, trip to the veterinarian this spring, keep these top 10 tips at hand. Of course, if you do end up at the vet, at least you’ll have Petplan to help defray the costs!

10) Gardening organically is good for the planet, and your pets. The herbacides and pesticides used in some popular gardening products can potentially make your dog sick. If you do choose to use these products in your garden, try to prevent your dog from digging-in/eating/licking the treated areas.

9) If you have especially curious dogs, consider planting raised beds to protect your garden from the ever-popular ‘what’s under the soil’ game. Funnily enough, that game isn’t as much fun for you as it is for your dog. A raised bed could do wonders for helping you enjoy spending time in the garden with your ‘inquisitive’ pets.

8) Avoid planting too much around the perimeter of your yard. Dogs instinctively (and repeatedly) check out fence lines and boundaries. Keeping an area clear for your dog will help keep both your stress levels down!

7) Copper barrier tape, which deters snails and slugs from crossing into your garden by emitting a tiny positive electric charge, is a good alternative to snail bait. A lot of snail bait contains metaldehyde, which is highly poisonous to dogs and cats.

6) Know your onions! When dogs eat large amounts of onions, they may suffer red blood cell destruction. Try to keep your dog away from any onions, including chives, you are growing in your garden.

5) Rhubarb leaves are toxic for you and your pets! They contain oxalic acid and in quantity, the acid damages kidneys. Rhubarb stalks are delicious (mmm, rhubarb pie!) – but are better enjoyed by you, not your pets.

4) Avoid trees with toxic bark, such as cherry (contains cyanide-like components). And, be careful around trees that yield stone fruits (apricots, plums). If your dog gobbles up some fallen fruit, their pits could cause an obstruction, landing you with an unexpected trip to the vet.

3) Tannin is a canine toxin, and almond and walnut hulls (found in great quantity near the base of walnut and almond trees) contain lots of tannins. Watch out for moldy walnuts as well, as they are also problematic for dogs.

2) Be sure to put a fence or other barrier around plants of the nightshade family –which includes common plants like eggplant, tomato and potato. Their foliage and stems contain dangerous alkaloids that can actually kill a dog, if too much is ingested. Also, flowers such as Foxglove, Belladonna and Larkspur can have toxic effects on the heart and circulation.

1) Avoid cocoa bean mulches. Their chocolaty smell is very enticing to your puppy or dog, but just like chocolate, cocoa bean mulches contain theobromine, which is toxic for dogs.

By keeping these simple tips in mind, you can help your pet stay safe this summer. Happy gardening!