Summer weather is finally here and that means it’s time to get outside to enjoy the sunshine! While you’re tending to your flowers and vegetables or lounging by the pool, be aware of these garden and yard dangers for pets.
Bone meal or blood meal: Often used as an organic soil fertilizer, bone meal is made from flash frozen animal bones that are ground to powder and blood meal is freeze dried animal blood. Dogs, with their excellent sense of smell, might be tempted to eat either of these products. Blood meal can cause intestinal distress and bone meal can actually obstruct the intestinal tract. Blood meal can also contain added iron, which can cause iron toxicity if ingested.
Chocolate mulch: Made from the hulls of cocoa beans, “chocolate mulch” is used because of it’s attractive color and smell. Some large dogs have been known to eat several pounds of this mulch, which is enough to cause chocolate toxicity. If you use this type of mulch, water thoroughly and keep your pet away from the mulch until the smell fades.
Salt water: If you have a salt water pool, or if you plan to take your dog to the beach, make sure you don’t let him drink the water! Excessive intake of salt water can be extremely dangerous.
Pool chemicals: When properly diluted, chlorine and other chemicals for pools are not toxic. At most, your dog might get skin irritation or a belly ache from coming in contact with, or drinking, these pool additives. However, in concentrated form, pool chemicals can cause chemical burns to the skin and eyes, and severe intestinal distress and damage from consumption. Store pool chemicals away from pets in sealed containers. If your dog is allowed to swim in your pool, rinse his body with plain water when he’s finished.
Pesticides or fertilizers containing organophosphates: Organophosphates, most commonly used to fertilize roses, can be extremely toxic to dogs, even in small doses. Most pesticides will cause only minor irritation, but some do contain more toxic poisons. Keep these type of garden and lawn treatments away from pets in sealed containers. Keep them in their original packaging in case your pet does ingest them, because poison control will need this information.
The Sun: Dogs and cats can get sunburned, just like people. Most pets will have the sense to get out of the sun when it becomes too strong, but if you’re out on a boat or otherwise in an area with no shade, make sure your pet has plenty of water and apply sunblock as needed. White or light colored dogs with short hair are at most risk for sunburn, usually on the ears or the nose. Dr. Danna recommends applying coconut oil to these areas to moisturize and reflect the sun’s rays. Coconut oil is also safe to consume if your pet licks it and won’t wash off easily for dogs that swim. Sunscreen creams containing zinc oxide can also be used, but Dr. Danna cautions that your dog shouldn’t lick this type of sunblock. Apply a thin layer and only to body parts that your pet can’t lick.
Flowers and Plants: Most flowers and plants, if eaten, will only cause intestinal distress or irritation to the mouth. However, there are some plants that are seriously toxic to dogs and cats. If you aren’t sure if a member of your garden is safe, check out the ASPCA Animal Poison Control list.
Have a safe and fun summer!