yikes in the yard

You might think a yard bright with spring bulbs would be a pet's paradise of a playground – but think again! When your hound offers a helping paw in the garden and decides to chew up those tulip bulbs, he's actually at risk for some serious tummy trouble. Petplan’s claims data shows it happens more often than you may imagine – an unearthly 12% of poison claims were related to plants.

Between your pet digging in the dirt and sniffing out his favorite spot, don't forget other edible hazards such as cocoa mulch, fertilizers and pesticides. So to keep you pet fit and well in the fresh air, review these outdoor health hazards.

items to keep off your pet’s plate:

  • lilies: While lilies make a delightful floral display, the pollen is uniquely toxic to cats and causes catastrophic kidney failure. The leaves and petals also contain toxins, so the best way to keep furry friends safe is to ban this poisonous plant for cats from the garden (and your home).
  • fruit trees: Beware fallen orchard fruits. Gobbling up fallen fruit can lead to tummy upsets, and some of the pits are the perfect size to get stuck in your pet’s stomach or intestines.
  • fatal flowers: Deadly nightshade doesn't have that name for no reason! But the leaves of seemingly harmless tomato, eggplant and potato plants all contain dangerous alkaloids that can be potentially fatal. Other toxic beauties include crocuses, hyacinths and gladiola, which can cause severe gastrointestinal upset, as well as daffodil and tulip bulbs, foxglove, lupine and larkspur, which can seriously affect cardiovascular and circulation systems.
  • cocoa mulch: Cocoa mulch may be a waste product from chocolate manufacturing, but to your keen-nosed dog it smells and tastes like a chocolaty treat. Unfortunately for him, just like chocolate it contains theobromine and caffeine, which have the potential to stimulate his metabolism and result in seizures.
  • compost: The warm, moist environment of compost is the perfect place for molds to grow. These release poisons known as mycotoxins, which cause vomiting, excessive trembling and seizures.
  • pesticides + herbicides: While insects and weeds are gardeners’ foes, remember that what is toxic to them is also potentially poisonous to your pet.
  • rat + mouse bait: If you have a vermin problem, be very careful where you put the bait. Never underestimate the inquisitiveness of a pet to get into places he shouldn't. Most rat baits work by causing internal bleeding, and work in the same way in dogs and cats.

terrifying tail: cocoa conundrum

When Sugar was a young pup, she had a sweet tooth for cocoa…mulch. We used cocoa mulch, which is known to produce a strong chocolate scent, in our rose garden. Sugar was enticed and found her way into the rose garden, where she ate a large amount of the mulch. Her breath smelled like cocoa as she panted heavily. We immediately took her to the vet and had to induce vomiting. Our vet retrieved a baseball-sized amount of cocoa mulch. We are very fortunate that Sugar recovered from that ordeal. Since then, we’ve changed our gardening methods to be dog-friendly and use a natural, fine black mulch that is free of harmful chemicals.

- Rosalyn, Golden Woofs

set-up for success

  • Consider cutting back on chemicals and switching to organic gardening instead. Where this is not possible, only purchase products that are certified as pet-friendly.
  • When planning your garden, read up on plants that are poisonous to cats and dogs, and avoid adding them to your order at the nursery.