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Garden & Lawn Hazards in Dogs

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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A quick stroll down the lawn and garden section of your local nursery presents a world of beautiful flowers and greenery to enhance your outdoor world. But it can also reveal many potential pet hazards. If you are a pet owner, you must use caution in storing these products. Limiting your pet's access to them can help ensure both a beautiful lawn and healthy pets.

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

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

  • Fertilizers. These 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.

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

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

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

  • Mulch. Most mulches are safe if ingested but there is one uncommon but potentially toxic type of mulch. Cocoa bean mulch is made from the hulls of cocoa 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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