Pets and Your Yard

Spring has sprung so spring to action as well to keep your pets safe!

1. Watch Out for Poisonous Flowers, Plants & Weeds

Keep yards free of burrs and fox tails which can catch in your pet’s fur and work their way to the skin.  Bulbs such as amaryllis, tulip, hyacinth and daffodil can damage a dog's mouth and esophagus resulting in drooling, vomiting, severe diarrhea or even abnormal heart rhythms.  Just a few leaves or petals of certain lilies (Day Lily, Asiatic and Japanese varieties) can be fatal to cats.

Although many fruits and vegetables may be in season, don’t feed human foods to your pet without knowing which are poisonous:  Grapes and raisins contain an unknown toxin that can shut down your pet’s kidneys; seeds and pits of stone fruits (peaches, plums, apples and cherries) contain a cyanide-like substance; onions and chives cause hemolytic anemia; tomato and potato leaves and stems can result in digestive, nervous and/or urinary system difficulties, and iced tea or coffee can increase your pet’s heart rate and result in seizures.  Carrots, green beans, broccoli, apples and bananas however, are safe and beneficial for most dogs and cats.  Just make sure the pieces don’t become a choking hazard.  Visit or to check which plants could be poisonous to you four-legged best friend. 

2. Be Cautious with Fertilizers & Read Labels

Purchase “Pet & Wildlife Friendly” products.  Dogs love the taste of two meat-based organic fertilizers, but ingestingblood meal can result in vomiting, diarrhea and severe pancreatic inflammation, while bone meal can create a cement-like ball in your pet’s stomach.  Rose-specific fertilizers containing disulfoton can also be deadly, so study-up for Fluffy and Fido’s sake because what goes on your ground, gets on their paws and ends up being ingested when they groom.  

3. Take Care with Pest Control

Spring means ants, termites, slugs and more.  Many ant baits use peanut butter which scream out for your dog to take a nibble.  Consuming snail and slug bait pellets may cause seizures.  Misusing flea and tick products can also be dangerous, so talk with your veterinarian to get the safest product in the safest doses for your dog or cat.   Have phone numbers accessible for the ASPCA’s Poison Control Hotline (888/426-4435) and know where your nearest Animal Emergency Center is located.  Remember - when an emergency strikes, you must know what to do and where to go for help without delay!

Denise Fleck is a recent recipient of the Maxwell Dog Writer’s of America Award for her work.  She is the author of Quickfind Books’ Pet Care for dogs and cats and an animal care instructor specializing in Pet First-Aid and CPR.  Denise has appeared on various television and radio programming and shares pet tips twice monthly on the KTLA 9AM News.  In her spare time, she serves as President of the Volunteers of the Burbank Animal Shelter, is a member of the Surf City Animal Response Team, writes for a variety of animal publications and has developed her own line of Pet First-Aid kits. She is currently owned by two very energetic Akitas…Haiku & Bonsai!  Visit her website at

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