We all love spending time in the backyard with family, friends, and of course, with our pets. If you’re going to share your yard with cats and dogs, you need to walk around with a sharp eye looking for things that your bestie might find. Many of the items on this list may be in your yard but be sure they are appropriately stored.

Fence – Be sure your yard is fenced. Even well-trained pets wander – they chase birds, squirrels, and other pets walking by. Check your fence regularly to be sure it’s pet proof. You don’t want wiggle room under it, or your large dog going over it. Check the space between the slats to be sure your pet can’t fit their head through and get stuck. Be safe, not sorry.

Garden tools – Tools can be sharp and dangerous. We’ve seen many a dog grab pruners or a trowel and run with them! Funny, but dangerous – put your garden tools away when you’re done with them.

Plants – Many common garden plants are poisonous. Maybe your dog doesn’t chew or sample things – great! But most kittens and puppies do. You’ll need to move these plants to an area outside the fence or keep a very close eye on your pet when you’re hanging out in the yard. Here is just a partial list of plants to be careful with: Azaleas, Lillies, Tulips, Foxglove, Daffodils, Holly, English Ivy, Morning Glory, Onions, Radish, Chives, Wisteria, Lily of the Valley, Hydrangea, and Rhododendron.

Sticks – Get rid of them! They not only create a choking hazard, but the splinters can get caught inside your pet’s esophagus, tummy, and intestines. Just bring out some of their favorite and safe toys to play with!

Obstacles – Patio furniture, tables (especially glass topped), fire pits, and pools are all hazards for pets. Glass topped tables should be very sturdy or better yet, on a porch. If your pet likes to roughhouse and run willy nilly, be sure to play in an open area where they won’t run into obstacles and hurt themselves.

Cocoa Mulch – This type of mulch has gotten very popular; it looks good, retains moisture, and smells wonderful. But, cocoa comes from the same plant as chocolate, which we know is poisonous to our animals and so is this mulch. Just use bark mulch in the pet area.

Pesticides – Bugs, weeds, poison ivy – no one wants them! Many people treat or spray for these pesky plants and critters, but few of these products are 100% safe for our pets. Long term exposure can cause health issues down the road. Your best bet is: don’t use them. If you must, keep your pet off the yard for 48 hours after you put down a pesticide or fertilizer product.

You know your pet well and probably have a good idea of how much trouble they can get into, but as we all know, they can surprise us. Be safe and enjoy your summer!

Toxic and non-toxic plants by animal from the ASPCA


[email protected] 202-854-1776