Did you know that April is National Lawn and Garden month? We’ve welcomed in the Spring season and are relishing in the outdoors! Now it’s time to soak up the sun and enjoy some quality time in our own backyards. But before you unlock the door to these wide-open spaces, it’s important to make sure your pets are protected from the unseen dangers lurking just outside.

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! A little planning can go a long way in making sure you have a pet-safe garden and a friendly backyard haven for your furry family!

First, let’s talk about the toxins and chemicals that are found in popular items we all have in our yards and gardens. Several popular plants are toxic to dogs such as begonias, clematis, and azaleas. If eaten, these plants can cause a wide range of symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea; they can even be deadly. Lilies, known as a beautiful spring garden plant, are actually lethal to cats. The ASPCA has a complete list of poisonous plants that can be found here. Keep an eye out for fruits and nuts that have fallen from trees as well as mushrooms which can spread throughout your yard. They’re harmful if ingested and are choking hazards for our furry friends.

Having lush green grass is a benefit of this Spring season, but the chemicals used in most common fertilizers and even insecticides can be harmful to our pets. Make sure you read the labels before applying any substances in your yard. Follow the manufacturer’s warning regarding how long you should wait before you allow your pets to peruse at their leisure.

There are lots of safe plants to use in your garden! Cats love lemongrass, wheat grass, marigolds and of course, catnip! Catnip has an exhilarating effect on cats and makes them super happy! So adding some mint as well as sage, rosemary, and basil to your garden will have a positive effect on their health if eaten. When you’re choosing plants and herbs for your pet-safe garden, try adding in soft, very sturdy leaves that can handle little paws roaming freely through them!

If you have a compost pile in your yard, be aware that the smell of decomposing produce might be thrilling for your pups, but can be very harmful if ingested due to the molds and fungus that can be found there. Make sure you secure the area with a latch or fence to prevent access.

We all need boundaries! Set up a fenced in area where dogs can mark their own territory. Also, appoint an area just for them to dig! Teach them that this is the place to bury their bones and toys. This way you’re not upset when they ruin your prize flowers and herbs! Cats love to climb and roam as well, so having trees, hedges, and bushes where they can wander through to their heart’s desire, will make them happy! Hiding spots, like large plant pots, will help them feel safe as they are claiming their own territory. Cats love to perch high up, surveying their domain. Offer logs or items of varying height where they can climb up and find the perfect spot for resting as they bask in the sun!

This is also the season for mosquitos, fleas, and ticks to find a sanctuary in your pet-safe garden. Minimizing moisture and standing water discourages pests from invading these spaces. Cut back the brush and all tall weeds and grass to keep out pesky critters. Make sure to use pet-safe mulch in your garden or yard. Paw-friendly materials such as splinter free bark mulch or wood chips are best.

Finally, when you’re building your backyard oasis and making it a retreat that both you and your animals can enjoy – put yourself in their paws – imagine what your pets would enjoy in their outdoor playground. Take into account their personalities and what would accommodate their particular traits and interests. Like humans, animals enjoy a nice cozy, cool resting place with lots of opportunities to exercise as well as enjoy the shade. The goal is to create a safe and secure space that you’ll both enjoy!

Don’t forget to offer easy access for re-entering your home and also provide lots of spots for drinking water so that they can stay hydrated.

Putting forth a little preparation is sure to make this a spot where you and your pets will feel at home and enjoy Spring together. We’d love to hear about your creative outdoor spaces and pet-safe garden – don’t forget to share those good ideas with us! Tag us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @poofpets.

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