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  • Writer's pictureMindy Schwartz

Is My Backyard Toxic to My Pet?

Many people may not feel comfortable taking their pets to crowded trails or dog parks. Now that spring is here, those of us who are lucky enough to have yards are finding ourselves spending large parts of our day outside, at home.

While a backyard is a great place for your pets to play and expend some energy, it’s important to be aware of potential dangers. Plants such as asparagus ferns, azaleas, tulips, oleanders and sago palms can be poisonous to your pet. Lilies are very toxic to cats. Puppies and kittens, who constantly explore by putting things in their mouths, are especially at risk. You should also keep an eye out for mushrooms that show up when your yard is damp. Many types of mushrooms aren’t edible and can poison your pet.

If the backyard includes fruit trees or vegetables, be careful to only use natural, non-toxic fertilizers and insecticides. I use neem oil to keep my fruit and vegetables bug free and peppermint oil to keep rodents away from my plants. I also use a chemical-free snail repellent primarily made of rosemary, cloves and cottonseed oil.

A few years ago I noticed that peaches were disappearing from my tree. I couldn't figure it out until I saw puppy Wrangler, running joyously around the yard with a half-eaten peach in his mouth. He stills loves peaches, but I am careful that he doesn't get near the trees without supervision. While most fruits and vegetables are okay for dogs, you wouldn't want yours to eat a pit or a food that could make them sick.

If you suspect your pet may have ingested a poisonous substance, or if they start to exhibit symptoms of poisoning, such as severe gastrointestinal distress, mental confusion or stumbling, call your veterinarian right away.

You can also get help from the ASPCA 24-hour poison control hotline at 888-426-4435. Another great resource if you are concerned that your pet may have ingested a toxin is the Pet Poison Hotline. You can find them at Be sure to be ready to share the suspected plant and the time it was ingested, your pet’s age and weight, and any symptoms you’ve observed.

Pets and backyards just go together, but like everywhere else, paying attention to what your animal is doing and eating makes the outdoor time better.

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