According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, tens of thousands of pets in America are poisoned by chemicals used for gardening or for lawns. Dogs, especially, will try to eat just about anything, including and insecticides and poisonous plants like sago palm, rhododendron and azalea. Check the ASPCA’s list of toxic and non-toxic plants before going to the garden center. (See Refernces for the URL, in case the link breaks.)
Place insect baits out of reach of pets. Slug bait is especially lethal to dogs so using commercial slug bait is not recommended for any homes that own dogs or have dogs owned buy the neighbors. Try natural baits like salt or crushed egg shells instead. If your lawn attracts wild birds, they will also eat slugs and many other garden pests.
Never put any type of chemical or plant on a lawn or garden bordering a lawn without researching the ingredients to be sure it is safe for pets or even small children. It’s safer for your pets if you only hire professional lawn care people to mow the lawn, but not add any chemicals like fertilizers or insecticides. Although some lawn care professionals pride themselves on knowing what chemicals to avoid in lawns with pets, many do not have this level of common sense.
Pets can not only get into chemicals when they are on the lawn, but also can get into them if they are not stored properly. Store chemicals like fertilizers or insecticides in locked cabinets far away from pet food. Also store pet food like dry dog kibble or grain for livestock in locked separate containers.
Pets should be safely housed whenever lawn care equipment is being used. Never leave anything lying around, even manual clippers. Clean up any gasoline spills as quickly as possible, even if you’ve never seen your dog, cat or horse get into a storage shed or garage. There is always a first time.
It’s important to pick up your pet’s waste or the feces of other animals that may wander onto your lawn. These may harbor parasites like hookworms that can infect dogs, cats or you. If you have a pet or a lawn frequented by wild animals like foxes, raccoons and rats, do not walk in the grass in bare feet. Hookworms have been known to penetrate bare skin.
And finally, a special note for all owners of rabbits, guinea pigs and horses. Never feed lawn clippings to these pets, even though they will greedily eat them. Once grass has been cut, it begins to ferment. Eating enough fermented lawn clippings can kill your rabbit, guinea pig or horse.
ASPCA: “ASPCA Guide to Pet-Safe Gardening.” http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/pet-care-tips/pet-safe-gardening.html
ASPCA: “Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants.” http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/poison-control/plants/
Pet Place: “Cocoa Mulch Toxicity.” http://www.petplace.com/dogs/cocoa-mulch-toxicity/page1.aspx
University of Minnesota: Storing Garden Chemicals Safely http://www.mggarden.umn.edu/components/gardentalk/december2009.html#art3
CDC Division of Parasitic Diseases. “Hookworm Infection Fact Sheet.” http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dpd/parasites/hookworm/factsht_hookworm.htm