Spring Gardening; Know What Can Harm Your Pets!


Laura Noaker: VERGI 24/7 Emergency Hospital

Springtime always seems to arrive with an explosion of birds singing while butterflies and bees stay busy pollinating our gardens. The flowers and weeds have begun to bloom and it is time to start your spring gardening! We want to share a few precautions you can take to keep your animals safe in the yard.

Before you buy new plants to adorn your garden, a quick Google search can inform you about the safety of them around your pets. There are many, many plants that can cause our pets significant problems, from illness to death. 

Mulch is another thing that we often add to freshen up our flowerbeds in the springtime. Your choice of mulch is important. The mulch made from cocoa bean shells smells like chocolate and can be a tasty temptation that is not worth the risk. Remember that chocolate is toxic to our pets, and the cocoa bean shells used for mulch are also toxic for the same reasons. Eating this mulch can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, a very fast heart rate, tremors and seizures, and even death.

Now that you have your plants growing and thriving, it can be very frustrating to watch slugs and snails chew the leaves up. Did you know that the bait sold at most garden shops is extremely toxic to cats, dogs and wildlife? Most baits come in granular, liquid, spray, dust, pellet, meal, gel and paste forms, and contain a chemical called metaldehyde. To attract the slugs and snails, bran or molasses is often added, unfortunately making the bait tasty to other animals as well. Even a small amount of this chemical consumed by your pet can cause severe symptoms. You may first notice drooling, vomiting, panting and anxiety which can progress to depression, a wobbly gait, muscle tremors, seizures and a very high body temperature. The high body temperature, called hyperthermia, can cause damage to internal organs.  Rapid eye movements, called nystagmus, may also occur, especially in cats.  Emergency treatment is needed to prevent further symptoms, respiratory failure, liver failure, and death.

Acorns are still around, too, and they contain tannins, a type of chemical that is toxic to dog and cats.  If eaten, acorns can cause your pet stomach and intestinal issues like vomiting and diarrhea.  Acorns can also cause intestinal blockages, choking and even dental trauma if they are hard enough when chewed. 

As always in an article about plants, we want to mention the severe toxicity of sago palms and lilies. For dogs, it is especially important to teach them commands like “leave it” and “drop it” because while your yard may be free from dangerous plants, mulch and other items, squirrels often carry sago palm seeds, for example, and drop them in your yard.  

We want you to have a safe and beautiful springtime. No matter the season, if an animal emergency occurs, our critical care team is here for you and your pets, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!