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posted: 5/15/2014 11:26 AM

Remember when gardening to keep an eye on your pets

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  • Chance


  • Charlie


By Mary Hayashi

Seems like the entire block was out last Saturday working on their yards. Weeding, rototilling, seeding, mulching, planting and fertilizing with cow manure and mushroom compost. I lost two rosebushes over the winter. Maybe it's time to try something else in that spot.

The spring weather also brings out more people with their dogs. Dana Farbman, APCC pet poison prevention expert, said, "Keeping animals safe from accidental poisonings should not end once you've stepped outside. Protecting your pet from potential hazards in your yard is just as critical."

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center reports they field tens of thousands of calls each year involving animal companions who've had potentially hazardous contact with insecticides, pet-toxic plants and weedkillers.

The APCC recommends we watch out for the following potential hazards in our gardens and yards;

• Poisonous plants: There are many plants that are toxic to dogs and cats. These include outdoor plants such as sago palm, rhododendron and azalea. Sago palm and other members of the Cycad family, as well as mushrooms, can cause liver failure. Rhododendron, azalea, lily of the valley, oleander, rosebay foxglove and kalanchoe all affect the heart. The APCC has an extensive list, as well as pictures, of toxic and nontoxic garden plants.

• Fertilizer: Ingesting large amounts of fertilizer can give pets a good stomach ache and may result in life-threatening gastrointestinal obstruction. The APCC recommends following instructions carefully and observing the appropriate waiting period before letting your animal run outside.

• Cocoa mulch: Cocoa bean shells, a by-product of chocolate production, attracts dogs with its sweet smell and, like chocolate, can cause problems for them. The APCC notes, "Depending on he amount involved, ingestion of cocoa mulch can cause a range of clinical signs, from vomiting, diarrhea and muscle tremors to elevated heart rate, hyperactivity and even seizures." They suggest using a less-toxic alternative such as shredded pine, cedar or hemlock bark.

• Insecticides: The following are listed as the most dangerous forms of pesticides by the APCC: snail bait with metaldehyde, fly bait with methomyl, systemic insecticides with the ingredients disyston or disulfoton, mole or gopher bait with zinc phosphide and most forms of rat poison. Always store pesticides in inaccessible areas and read the manufacturer's label carefully for proper usage and storage.

• Compost: Depending on what is going into the compost pile or bin, the garden waste or food may cause a problem for our pets. Coffee, moldy foods and certain types of fruits and vegetables are toxic to dogs and cats.

• Fleas and ticks: Keeping lawns mowed reduces fleas and ticks, which can cause excessive scratching, hair loss, scabs, hot spots and tapeworms, as well as anemia from blood loss. Ticks may lead to tick borne diseases such as Lyme disease.

• Allergies: Some pets may have allergies to plants. The APCC cautions, "If you suspect your pet has an allergy, please don't give him any medication that isn't prescribed by a veterinarian." They also recommend keeping your pet out of other people's yards and off their lawns.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center notes, "If you think that your animal is ill or may have ingested a poisonous substance, contact your local veterinarian or our 24-hour emergency poison hotline directly at (888) 426-4435."

The APCC is an excellent resource if you think your pet has come in contact with or ingested something hazardous. I keep the number handy.

With the promise of warmer spring weather on the way, it's nice to get outside and enjoy our dogs, our yards and neighbors.


Chance is a 6-year-old male beagle who weighs about 31 pounds. He came back to the shelter after several years due to his owner becoming allergic.

Charlie is a male cocker spaniel who's around 1½ years old and weighs about 35 pounds. He's a very sweet dog who loves snuggling and being petted. He's a bit skittish at first, but warms up quickly. He's house trained and seems to like other dogs. Charlie likes to jump up, so small kids probably aren't a good idea, but he's fine with older kids and adults.

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