If you have pets that go outside even occasionally, you need to pay attention to your landscaping. A dog that runs in the yard once in a while or a cat that is allowed to explore outside from time to time can easily get injured or worse from improper landscaping. You should also install pet-friendly landscaping if you are concerned about your neighbors' animals or strays that may make their way through your yard. While some yard designs are terrific for humans to explore and enjoy, they are hazardous for household pets.
Whether you do your own landscaping or hire a landscaper to do the work for you, here are three ways you should adjust your yard to make it safe for pets of all kinds, whether they are yours or someone else's animals.
1. Use Plastic Lawn Edging Instead of Metal
Metal lawn edging is commonly used in yards to keep the grass and garden areas separate. However, the metal has sharp edges that can hurt a pet's soft paws. Plenty of veterinarians see dogs and even cats who have cuts on their paws from stepping on the sharp top of metal lawn edging. These cuts are sometimes serious enough to require surgery to repair.
To keep the feet of all animals who walk in your yard safe, replace any metal lawn edging you have with plastic edging. The plastic has a more rounded top and will not injure your pets if they step on it.
2. Don't Use Plants That Are Poisonous to Pets
Cats are more likely to chew on plants than dogs, but dogs will sometimes do this, too (especially puppies). This is the very reason you want to be sure you are only using safe plants in your landscaping. Some plants are poisonous to dogs, cats, or both. It's better to prevent accidentally poisoning your pet with the wrong plants by avoid using them than it is to take your pet to the vet for emergency treatment once they ingest a few dangerous leaves.
While some plants are only mildly toxic to pets (usually causing digestive upsets), some are very harmful. The worst plants for dogs include:
- Cherry trees (the bark and leaves are very toxic to them)
- Castor beans
- Jimson weed
- Rosary pea
The worst plants for cats include:
3. Be Careful With Mulch
While mulch is wonderful for growing large, healthy plants, not all varieties of mulch are pet-friendly. In fact, some types of mulch can be quite harmful to dogs and cats. According to PaloAltoOnline.com, cocoa mulch is a particular danger to dogs.
Made from the husks of cocoa beans, this mulch is poisonous to canines. You've probably heard that dogs should not eat chocolate. Chocolate is made from cocoa, and if your dog gets into cocoa mulch, you will be making an emergency trip to the veterinarian.
Coconut husk mulch should also be avoided with dogs as well as cats. It is often used around plants that need a lot of water, because it can absorb and hold a lot of it. However, if a dog or cat ingests it, it will expand in their digestive tract as it absorbs the water there. This expansion can lead to an intestinal blockage that must be surgically removed.
You can still have a beautiful and healthy yard while keeping it safe for your pets to enjoy. Just make the appropriate choices regarding what goes in your yard and your pet will be able to romp in the great outdoors with joy. If your yard isn't pet-friendly now, call your landscaper to come make the changes