Make your garden safe for pets, by removing hazards and chemicals and knowing toxic plants to avoid. Many plants, trees, mulches and garden items are not safe near animal friends. Just a little knowledge and a few hours can ensure all the family (including four-legged friends) enjoy your garden. Also see a beginner’s guide to houseplants (just brushing a tail past a lily or sago palm can harm). Also do not display foliage where feathered friends can see it, to help stop birds flying into windows.
First of all, learn which plants and trees to avoid. It’s also important to avoid cocoa mulch (toxic), pine mulch (punctures), rubber mulch (choking) and fresh compost (mould):
- PDSA lists safe/unsafe plants to choose or avoid
- Toxic plants to dogs
- Toxic plants to cats
- Toxic plants to rabbits
- Toxic plants to birds
- Avoid these herbs near pets
- Trees & plants to horses
- Remove ragwort with a ragfork
- VPIS & Leaf Supply supply info for vets
- Also keep pets away from rose thorns
- And plants that attract bees (see natural remedies for bee stings)
- Bin chemicals and pesticides, and grow an organic lawn
- Bin slug pellets, use safe humane slug/snail deterrents
- Paved areas are safer than stones or gravel
- Trimmed nails help prevent claws getting stuck
- Check ears/paws after walks, for embedded grass seeds
- Ensure shady areas to avoid heatstroke (includes cats)
- Choose a solid wood secure fence or recycled plastic
- Use non-toxic wood stain (over creosote)
- If prey animals (like rabbits) run free during the day, block hedgehog highways (holes in fences). You can open them up at night when animals are safely inside (hedgehogs are nocturnal anyway).
- Clean up poop immediately (even old poop can cause blindness to animals and children, if they fall in it).
- Citronella (often used in candles to deter wasps) is toxic to pets. Use a Waspinator (this brown paper bag looks like a wasp nest, and deters other territorial wasps).
- Wash paws after snowy walks to remove rock salt (this can burn, at indoor higher temperatures). Use a shovel to clear snow or biodegradable EcoGrit (cereal waste) – they also suggest straw or sand as safer alternatives.
- Flat Cat & Cataire make screens to stop cats falling out of windows. It’s a myth that cats always ‘right themselves’.
- Keep pets away from BBQs. Remove leftover food (fatty meats, onion, garlic and beer are all toxic).
Pet Garden Safety Tips
- Never leave pets unattended with collars that could snag (balconies, fences). For dogs, Keepsafe Collar is secure on lead walks (just attach the lead to both D-rings) but off the lead, breaks away in emergencies. For cats, Kitty Collars (6 months+) are embroidered with contact/medical info and alsos break away in emergencies (use with non-hanging Flexitags).
- Always supervise pets with toys, and avoid throwing sticks (causes mouth injuries). Good brands of dog toys are Kong (rubber) & Beco (bamboo/rice husk). Always choose the right size to mouth size.
- Keep pets away from ponds (blue/green algae) and toads. Create sloping sides for ponds (for all creatures to exit safely) and also use safer alternatives to netting.
- Even Greener & The Original Water Butt Co have safety features. Avoid open barrels (drowning hazard and stagnant water attracts mosquitoes).
- Cover pools, when not in use. Doggy Docks are easier to use than ladders, and can be used for boat platforms.