Protecting Pets From Poisonous Plants

Outdoor enthusiasts who are also pet owners are delighted with the spring, enjoying their outdoor living spaces while watching their pets run and play. Some of the most common potentially harmful dangers for pets that reside in many yards and gardens are listed below.

Mulch Products
Cocoa bean mulch is made of discarded hulls or shells of the cocoa bean, which are by-products of chocolate production.The tempting “chocolate-like” smell often attracts dogs and may encourage them to eat the mulch. Processed cocoa bean hulls can contain theobromine and caffeine, the two toxins of concern in chocolate. Since it is not usually apparent how much of the toxin the mulch contains, it’s best to keep dogs a safe distance away, to always supervise your pet while outside, or to not use the mulch at all.

Fertilizers, Soil Additives and Pesticides
While fertilizers are typically fairly safe for pets, those that contain blood meal, bone meal, feather meal and iron may be especially tasty – and dangerous to dogs. Large ingestions of the meal-containing products can form a concretion in the stomach, potentially obstructing the gastrointestinal tract and causing severe pancreatitis, and those that contain iron may result in iron poisoning. Also, ingestion of pesticides and insecticides, especially if they contain organophosphates (often found in systemic rose care products), can be life-threatening,even when ingested in small amounts.

Slug and Snail Baits
Available in a variety of forms (pellets, granular, powder and liquid), slug and snail baits contain the active ingredient metaldehyde, which is highly poisonous to dogs and cats.When ingested, metaldehyde produces clinical signs of distress within one to two hours, including salivation, restlessness,vomiting, tremors, seizures, and life-threateningly high body temperature. These baits are highly toxic and without immediate veterinary attention, symptoms can last for several days and can be fatal.

Compost
Gardeners love their compost; however, it can be toxic to pets and wildlife so please keep it fenced off. As the organic matter decomposes, it is common for molds to grow, some of which produce hazardous tremorgenic mycotoxins. When consumed by an animal, moldy food or compost ingestion can result in sickness and physical distress in as little as 30 minutes.

Fleas and Ticks
Since fleas and ticks lurk in tall brush and grasses, it's important to keep those lawns mowed and trim. Fleas can cause excessive scratching, hair loss, scabs, hot spots and tapeworms as well as anemia from blood loss in both cats and dogs. Ticks can cause similar effects and lead to a variety of complications from tick-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Babesia.

Garden Tools
Unattended garden tools may seem like no big deal, but rakes,tillers, hoes and trowels can be hazardous to pets and cause trauma to paws, noses or other parts of a curious pet's body.Rusty, sharp tools caked in dirt may also pose a risk for tetanus if they puncture skin. While cats don't appear to be as susceptible as dogs to tetanus, care should be taken by storing all unused tools in a safe area, not haphazardly strewn on the ground.

Thorns
If you plan to have roses, or other bushes with thorns, consider putting them behind a fence or up against the house where there is less likelihood of “Lucky” getting some nasty scrapes on the snout or in the eye. The thorns can scratch the cornea causing permanent injury, infection and potentially loss of sight; thorns can also get embedded in the skin and form an abscess.

Lawn Edging
The metal demarcation between lawn and garden is supposed to keep the grass where it belongs. Unfortunately, it is a dangerous knife in the grass waiting for a soft paw to step just right and cause a serious injury. Choose a plastic edging material, treated wood, or other natural material for your yard to eliminate this danger. In a study done by Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital of the 60 dogs injured by lawn edging in the study, 85 percent of them needed surgery, and 18 percent required extensive surgical repair of skin, subcutaneous tissue, and muscle, tendon, or fascia.

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