Category Archives: gardening

Grass, Weeds and Plants Pets Should Not Eat

By Linda Cole

Cats and dogs who wander outside during the warmer months will always find something to nibble on. Some may chew on a weed or piece of grass because it tastes good. It doesn’t harm them to eat certain plants, but some vegetation is harmful and as responsible pet owners, we need to be aware of what grows in our yards and gardens.

Pets don’t know which plants they should leave alone while on their daily patrol around their home. Eating poisonous plants is the number two toxin for cats, and ranks in the top five for dogs. Outside plants that are toxic can cause severe reactions, but for the most part, pets end up with irritations in their gastrointestinal tract or inside their mouth. If a pet eats a toxic plant, they usually get rid of most of the toxins from their system by vomiting.

Grass is perfectly fine if your pet eats some, provided it has not been chemically treated. Some dogs seem to actually crave some greenery now and then. Vets don’t really know if dogs eat the grass because they like the taste of it or if there’s something in it that’s good for them. Some think it’s a dog’s way of getting rid of an upset stomach. Whatever the reason may be, you want to avoid grass that’s been treated with toxic chemicals. If your cat or dog has access to your entire yard, be careful when putting anything on your lawn. Weed killers should also be used with your pet’s safety in mind. Make sure to keep cats or dogs off any lawn that’s been treated regardless of whether they eat grass or not. Pets who wander around a treated lawn can still pick up chemicals on their paws which can be ingested when they clean themselves.

There are more than 700 poisonous or toxic outside plants that pets need to stay away from. Most gardeners and flower lovers have heard of at least some of the plants or weeds, but those who don’t work in the garden may not be aware of what these plants are, let alone spot one on sight. However, it’s important to learn what grows in your yard, neighborhood and garden to help keep your pets safe.

Some wild growing plants, shrubs, grasses and weeds to watch out for are: Velvet Grass, Sorghum, Nightshade, Pokeweed, Smart Weeds, Baneberry, Holly, Bloodroot, Buttercup, Chockcherries, Corn Cockle, Cowbane, Cow Cockle, Jimsonweed, Mayapple, Day Lily, Morning Glory, Monkshood, Poison Hemlock and Skunk Cabbage.

Garden plants your pet shouldn’t chew on include potatoes, tomatoes, rhubarb and onions. Some garden flowers and outside plants that are toxic to pets are Crocus, Day Lilies, Tiger Lilies, Daffodils, Narcissus, Clematis, Foxglove, Morning Glory and Lily of the Valley.

If your pet does eat a toxic plant, it’s important to know what part of the plant they ate and how much they ate. On some plants, not all parts are poisonous whereas others include the entire plant. Some outside plants have toxic roots or seeds and others may have toxic leaves or stems. And some plants are more toxic than others with varying degrees of symptoms and reactions by a pet.

Symptoms to watch out for include sudden vomiting, diarrhea, heavy panting or breathing, acting like they are depressed and have no energy. Call your vet immediately if you suspect your pet has eaten something they shouldn’t have. If you know what they ate, take some of the plant, grass or shrub with you when you go to the vet. If you don’t know what it is, the vet may know, but either way it can help determine exactly what the toxin is so the vet can properly treat your pet.

Pets can’t avoid outside plants, and their curious nature can get them into trouble. It’s hard to monitor outside cats while they check out their territory, so one simple precaution would be to walk around your cat’s territory to get an idea of what kind of outside plants he could run across. That way you have an idea of what he might have eaten if he comes home with an upset tummy or is showing signs of ingesting something toxic. There are other poisons besides plants a wandering cat can find, so if you notice any signs of possible poisoning, take your pet to the vet to be on the safe side.

For more information on toxic outside plants, please check out this site. This is by no means a complete list of all 700 toxic plants, but it is a good place to start. If you have questions about a plant, talk with your vet.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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Gardening with Your Pets in Mind

By Ruthie Bently

Now that the snow has theoretically left Minnesota it is time to get our garden started. I have been told it has actually snowed somewhere in Minnesota every month of the year, which is a statement I can well understand after living here for over 10 years. We have a garden every year, but with all the animals we have to be careful how and when we use machinery, fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides.

So how do you have a garden and animals at the same time? It is relatively easy; it just takes a bit of planning. Skye has a dog yard that is fenced in so she can go outside and enjoy the sunshine while we are outside to watch her. We don’t use commercial pesticides or insecticides on our plants, as the animals are in and out of our garden all day. They may not always be as careful as we are to walk between the rows. If we were to use pesticides or insecticides they could get whatever was sprayed on their feet. Both Skye and the cats are cleaning themselves all the time and they could ingest the chemicals they might walk through, which would make them sick. Some chemicals used on lawns have been linked to canine cancer, and I had a client in Illinois who lost a German Shepard for just that reason.

We are lucky to have chickens, which make great walking insecticides. You don’t need a rooster for hens to lay eggs, so if your city allows you to have chickens, you may want to consider investing in a few. They are relatively easy to take care of and you get fresh eggs too. If chickens aren’t your thing, look into companion planting. Certain plants will drive away bugs; marigolds or chrysanthemums for example, which is where natural pyrethrums come from. While we didn’t use this method last year, we have used it in the past with rousing success.

One of my favorite pastimes is weeding, which relieves my stress and makes my garden look better. My favorite time is right after a good rain because then the weeds are easier to pull. I even have one of those rotary human powered tools with discs on it to help cut up the weeds. After that, out comes the rototiller to get rid of weeds that are too stubborn to pull or dig up. Did you know that the definition of a weed is a plant that is growing where you don’t want it to?

I am happy to say that the cats avoid anything in our yard that makes noise (i.e., the rototiller, lawnmower, weed whacker). When we have to mow Skye’s dog yard she stays in the house, unless she has to go potty and we have a separate gate so she can’t get into the larger part of the dog yard. I unfortunately have personal experience with a dog and a lawn mower, and am very careful that Skye will not have an issue like that.

For fertilizer we use aged chicken manure. In the spring we clean out the chicken house and put all the pine shavings from the floor into a compost bin. We also compost whatever kitchen scraps and weeds cannot be fed to the chickens, as well as the weeds we pull. You can buy organic fertilizer at most home garden stores, just make sure it is aged, as fresh manure is too strong to put right on the plants. Last year was the first year we used chicken manure, and we put up about 60 quarts of tomatoes from just half a dozen plants.

Watering is easy too, as I have barrels and tubs around the house under all the downspouts to catch the overflow that the gutters cannot handle. If you decide to collect rain water, make sure you keep your water mosquito free by using “Mosquito Dunks®” or something like them. They are made from a larvicide that won’t hurt birds, fish or any other animals that drink the water. They short circuit the life cycle of the larva, and the larva die. They have been on the market for over 15 years and have been used in many applications. There are also other insecticide products made with beneficial nematodes (Steinernema feltiae) that will kill almost all pests. They are a worm-like parasite that prey on and eat other bugs in the soil of your yard. They can be used in most applications, and are not harmful to earthworms, pets, people or plants.

For dealing with the flies in the yard we use a wonderful dome-shaped fly trap that you put attractant in and toss when it is full. We have used these for many years, and have re-used them for more than one season, though you have to bring them inside after they have been emptied for the year. This year I was stung by a wasp and as my dad is very allergic I could become that way too. So we began to use a wasp trap. While I am normally a “live and let live” kind of gal, this bothers me a bit. Since the wasps are primarily in the vicinity of where we sit in the yard and exercise Skye, the safety of my pets and my family are more important. The wasp traps also use an attractant (the one we have uses 3) to attract the wasps to the trap; they go in and can’t get back out.

Some of the things we do may seem time consuming to you, but we feel the need to make sure that all the animals and people we love are able to live a safe and happy life together, and this system seems to be working well for us. My last American Staffordshire Terrier, Smokey Bear, was almost 20 when he died of old age. This is just one more way to live as peacefully as we can without making any big changes that may do more harm than good.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.