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GardenSMART :: Pet's Corner: Planting a Pet-Safe Spring Garden

Pet’s Corner: Planting a Pet-Safe Spring Garden

By Dr. Jules Benson, Petplan pet insurance Chief Veterinary Medical Officer

Blooming buds make a fragrant playground for pouncing paws, but a garden planted without pet safety in mind can harbor potential poisons. Before your pet unearths tummy trouble (or worse), dig into these rules for non-toxic gardening.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Frightening Flora

Flowers and trees make for a gorgeous garden, but some plants pose a peril to pets. Forego sowing the following seeds:


Lilies may smell sweet, but their pollen can cause kidney failure in cats if ingested (they are less toxic to dogs). Other blooms to avoid are crocuses, hyacinths, gladiola, daffodils, tulips, foxglove, lupine, larkspur and deadly nightshade (it has that name for a reason!).

Fruit trees

Snacking on fallen fruit can upset tummies, and the pits can get stuck in your pet’s stomach or intestines.


The leaves of seemingly harmless tomato, eggplant and potato plants all contain dangerous alkaloids that can be potentially fatal to dogs and cats.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Fearsome Fauna

Your pet’s paws aren’t the only ones prancing among the primroses; from rabbits to rodents, wild animals can be a hazard to your pet’s health. Beware of:

Animal waste

Rodents, squirrels, opossums and other mammals can carry Leptospirosis and other diseases in their urine, flesh and feces. Keep pets away from standing water and animal droppings, and don’t let your terrier terrorize the local wildlife.

Rat & mouse bait

If you’re vexed by vermin, be very careful where you put the bait. Most rat poisons work by causing internal bleeding — and will do the same to dogs and cats.


While insects are a gardener’s foe, remember that what is toxic to them is also potentially poisonous to your pet.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Formidable fertilizers

Fertilizers, mulch and compost are great for adding nutrients to your soil, but they can have catastrophic consequences for pets. Think before you sprinkle:

Cocoa mulch

Cocoa mulch may be a waste product from chocolate manufacturing, but to your dog it tastes like a chocolaty treat. Unfortunately, just like chocolate it contains theobromine and caffeine, which have the potential to stimulate his metabolism and result in seizures.


The warm, moist environment of compost is the perfect place for molds to grow, but these release poisons known as mycotoxins, which cause vomiting, excessive trembling and seizures.


Fertilizers that contain iron or insecticides can poison pets; switch to organic gardening to keep pets safe, or only purchase products that are certified as pet-friendly.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

It’s nearly impossible to plant a completely danger-free garden, but you can reduce risks by being aware of horticultural hazards. Do your research when planning your patch to be sure your thumb will be the only thing turning green in your garden! And for more tips about household hazards, check out Petplan’s Eat This, Not That guide for pets.

Want 100% protection every day of the year? Sign up for Petplan online and get a 5% discount on your policy! Visit to get started.

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