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Lawn & Garden Hazards in Cats

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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A quick stroll down the lawn and garden section of your local nursery can reveal many potential pet hazards. Caution in storing these products and limiting your pet's access to them can help ensure a beautiful lawn and healthy pets.

  • Various insecticides are used to reduce the number of annoying and damaging insects. Some can be highly toxic to pets.

  • Herbicides are used to reduce weed growth. Generally, most of these are only significantly toxic if ingested from the bag. After application to the lawn, the toxicity level is reduced.

  • Fertilizers help make lush dense lawns. They are primarily toxic if large amounts are ingested. Once the lawn or garden is fertilized, toxicity levels are quite low.

  • Several different gopher, vole, mole and other vermin baits are available. Most of these can be highly toxic since they may contain strychnine, an extremely poisonous alkaloid.

  • Snail and slug baits are frequently used, and if ingested, cause serious and potentially fatal tremors and seizures.

  • Citronella candles are used to deter mosquitoes but may cause gastrointestinal inflammation in cats, resulting in vomiting and diarrhea.

  • Mulch. Most mulches are safe if ingested but there is one uncommon but potentially toxic type of mulch. Cacoa bean mulch is made from the hulls of cacoa beans and when fresh has a rich, chocolate aroma. Ingestion of large amounts of fresh mulch can result in chocolate toxicity. To keep your pet safe, keep him away from the mulch until the chocolate aroma has gone. A thorough watering or heavy rainfull often reduces the potential toxicity.

    Many products are used to create beautiful lawns and productive gardens. With proper handling, use and storage of these products, illness and potential tragedy can be avoided. Keep lawn and garden products stored in an area that your pet cannot enter. During application of these products, keep your pet confined in a safe area. Should exposure to any of these products occur, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

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