We all look forward to spending more time outdoors when the weather warms up, but before you start putting out your lawn chairs and soaking up some rays with your four-legged friends beside you, check for these common backyard hazards for pets.
Plant Hazards for Pets
Lilies – Not all lilies are toxic, but the most dangerous are the “true” lilies, including Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter and Japanese Show lilies. While toxic to dogs, they are HIGHLY toxic to cats. Even a couple petals can be very dangerous, so keep an eye on those Easter gifts, inside or outside of the home.
Hydrangeas – Hydrangeas can cause serious gastrointestinal issues when ingested (the leaves and flowers contain the highest concentrations of toxins). Symptoms of GI issues in pets include vomiting, lethargy and diarrhea.
Daffodils – The flowers and leaves of daffodils are toxic, but the bulbs are particularly dangerous; they can cause vomiting, extreme salivation, diarrhea, convulsions, low blood pressure, tremors and cardiac arrhythmias.
Oleanders – Oleanders can cause colic, diarrhea, drooling, vomiting, tremors, seizures, respiratory distress and cardiac failure in pets. Oleanders are dangerous to multiple species (cats, dogs, horses, cattle and humans) so it’s best to keep all of your animals far away.
Azaleas – In addition to the usual gastrointestinal symptoms, azaleas may cause confusion, lack of coordination or even paralysis in pets.
Additional Backyard Hazards for Pets
Fertilizers – If you have pets, it’s best to avoid fertilizing your lawn if at all possible. If you must fertilize, keep pets inside while any sprays are being put down so that they don’t get anything on their paws to lick later.
Swing sets – Wooden play sets produced prior to 2003 may be constructed of arsenic-treated wood, which is toxic to both people and animals. You will want to keep all swing sets in good repair to prevent splintering. The splinters can be dangerous should your pet swallow or step on them. Also, wooden play sets are vey attractive to bees and wasps; ask your local exterminator for tips on keeping stinging insects at bay.
Garages and sheds – Though it’s handy to have a shed or garage in your backyard, there are many things typically stored there that could prove dangerous to your pets, such as fertilizers and insecticides. Fluids that contain ethylene glycol (which has a sweet taste) are also very dangerous; these include antifreeze, windshield de-icing agents, motor oils, hydraulic brake fluid, photo developing solutions, paints, solvents, etc. Ethylene glycol poisoning can be fatal unless treated immediately.
What to Do If Your Pet Ingests Something Toxic
If you notice symptoms like lethargy, vomiting and diarrhea in your pet, the first thing to do is consult your vet. They will most likely ask you about your yard and home and potential dangers your pet may have encountered. If you know what your pet has ingested, or have a range of potential culprits, bring the plants or containers to the vet if possible so they can develop the most effective treatment plan.
Here are some additional pet toxicity resources to keep handy:
Jamie Damato Migdal, CPDT-KA and CEO/Founder of FetchFind, has been innovating within the pet industry for over 25 years. A sought-after consultant and public speaker, Jamie has built four national pet service companies and has wide-ranging industry expertise in education, technology, business development, sales, marketing and management. Her fourth and current company, FetchFind, provides staff training and engagement, as well as digital marketing and other business solutions, to pet care service and pet-friendly companies around the globe.