Dog-Safe gardening

Hi Everybody,

I love to garden, so I thought I’d pass along the link to the ASPCA Guide to Pet-Safe Gardening , plus give you my two-cents worth on dog-safe gardening:

1. Poisonous Plants

I found out after planting them that kalanchoes are a potentially dangerous plant for pets. Fortunately, Roxie and Gypsy ignore them. Another popular plant in this area to be avoided is the sago palm.

Here is a link to the ASPCA plant list complete with pictures of toxic and non-toxic plants.

2. Fertilizer

Rick and I have found a fertilizer that is organic and free from toxic substances, which we now use exclusively for our lawn. It is a 7/2/2 combination that contains bat guano, molasses and other natural ingredients. The only problem is Gypsy really likes the taste of the molasses and will hunt down any that has not been washed into the ground. It does no harm, other than to make her poop really dark!

Another fertilizer we’ve used is blood meal, especially for flowering plants. We made the mistake one time of using it in the back yard and learned out the hard way that both Roxie and Gypsy find it irresistable. They both rolled in it and tore up our potted plants.

3. Cocoa Mulch

We have never used cocoa mulch, but it makes sense to me that it can be toxic to dogs just like chocolate because it also contains theobromine. Plus it smells sweet, so dogs would find it attractive. We use a “living” mulch that contains compost and tree trimmings native to the San Antonio area.

4. Insecticides/Flea Control

We gave up using standard pesticides several years back, and now make use of natural alternatives. We have used Beneficial Nematodes with good results to control fleas and grubs. Nematodes are microscopic, and they come on a sponge that can be stored for a short time in the refrigerator.

Nematodes are best applied in the early evening, and when you get ready to use them, you soak the sponge in water. They should be applied to moist ground, so if you are in the middle of a drought like we are in San Antonio, you’ll have to run your sprinklers to dampen the area. The nematodes are applied using a spray attachment on your hose. The ground should be watered again afterwards to help them get worked into the soil. The nematodes will eat themselves out of food (grubs, fleas, etc.) in a short time.

We have also used Diatomaceous Earth with some success. It is only effective as long as the powder remains in your lawn, so you may find yourself reapplying it every few days. You want the type of DE found in garden supply stores, not pool supply stores. It works by cutting the exoskeleton of insects that come in contact with it, but is safe for humans and pets. The only precaution is to not breath in the dust as you are applying it, so it is best not to spread it on a windy day and to use a dust mask.

5. Compost

We have a compost bin, and we end up with a fantastic product to use in our garden. We are able to recycle most plant/vegetable waste plus coffee grounds and tea bags. Banana peels also work great and seem to be a favorite of earth worms. Because the bin we have is a closed system, we don’t have a concern about Roxie and Gypsy getting into the compost.

As a final note, if the worst happens and you suspect your pet has gotten into something dangerous, you can contact your vet or the Animal Poison Control Center 24 hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.

Happy gardening,


May 19, 2009 | 0 | Holistic

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