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Plants & Pets

TreeTake is a monthly bilingual colour magazine on environment that is fully committed to serving Mother Nature with well researched, interactive and engaging articles and lots of interesting info.

Plants & Pets

Plants & Pets

Plants & Pets

Create a dog-friendly (& safe) lawn

Arunima SenGupta

Part of having a dog in home is making sure that its physical environment is as comfortable for you as is for it. Well, you can have the best of both worlds—a bountiful garden and a dog that is able to play around it. But like their sensitivities to chocolate and grapes, dogs are sensitive to certain aspects of the garden. Creating a dog-friendly garden in your backyard will not only keep your garden safe, but the man’s best friend, too. Here are some helpful tips for how you can create a dog-safe lawn:

Fill with comfortable materials

When landscaping for dogs, keep in mind that you want your dog to feel as comfortable as possible in the space where it wanders. This means avoiding surfaces that get too hot, scratchy bushes, sharp rocks, and small pebbles that can get stuck in their paws. With that in mind, create dog-friendly garden designs, filling your garden with smooth stones, ornamental grasses, and other soft foliage that will make your dog feel at home. Also consider filling your lawn with outdoor dog toys like tennis balls and chewing bones or an obstacle course if space is available.

Avoid toxic plants for dogs

The most important step to creating a welcoming landscape for your pooch is to include only dog-friendly outdoor plants in your garden. Avoid using plants that are toxic to dogs, including:

Sago Palm: These ornamental palms are popular in warmer climates and every part of it is toxic to dogs. They are also said to be very alluring as some dogs find them quite delicious. Serious side effects including liver failure and possible death can occur, so be very careful.

Tomato Plant: With summer come tomato plants in the garden. Make sure to keep dogs clear though, as they can cause weakness, gastrointestinal problems, drowsiness, dilated pupils, slow heart rate, and confusion.

Aloe Vera: We rub it on our skin and some of us even drink the juice, but aloe is something your dog needs to avoid. Saponins in this succulent can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, tremors, and general central nervous system depression.

Ivy: Bad plant for dogs. Vomiting, diarrhoea, excessive salivation and drooling, and abdominal pain are caused by ingesting ivy.

Amaryllis: Another poisonous plant for dogs, this flowering bulb is a very common garden ornamental. Pay particular attention if you grow the bulbs indoors.

Gladiola: Poisonous flowers dogs. This lovely summer flower can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea, and general lethargy.

American Holly: A popular ornamental shrub in some areas, holly is a low toxicity plant but your dog may experience vomiting and diarrhoea if it eats it.

Daffodil: Commonly found in the spring, these flowers can cause intestinal spasms, low blood pressure, salivation, tremors, vomiting, diarrhoea, and even cardiac arrhythmia.

Baby’s Breath: You know it from virtually every bouquet of flowers you’ve ever received. This small flower that accompanies floral arrangements can cause vomiting and diarrhoea.

Milkweed: Very common, very pleasant to look at, very toxic to dogs. Milkweed will induce the usual vomiting and diarrhoea, but your dog may also experience difficulty breathing, rapid and weak pulse, dilated pupils, and even kidney or liver failure and death.

Castor Bean: Not common in gardens, castor bean is found in parks and other large-scale outdoor landscaping. If ingested your dog may experience drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea, extreme thirst, loss of appetite, and abdominal pain. Potentially fatal in severe cases, it may cause muscle twitching, tremors, seizures, and even coma.

Azalea Rhododendron: These common flowering shrubs are poisonous plants for dogs and produce serious gastrointestinal issues. They can additionally cause weakness, discoordination, and weak heart rate. Potentially fatal.

Tulip: Who doesn’t love tulips? The usual gastrointestinal problems are accompanied by central nervous system depression and even convulsions and death.

Chrysanthemum: Vomiting, diarrhea, skin rash, and drooling may be in your dog’s future if they ingest this common flower.

Begonia: A very common garden flower that can cause extreme oral irritation and excessive inflammation of the mouth, as well as drooling and vomiting.

Oleander: All parts of this flower, fresh or dried, are poisonous and should be avoided by all pets. All Carnations, Tulips, Lily, Morning Glory and Hosta are poisonous too.

Dog Friendly Herbs

If weeds and pests are an issue in your lawn, use only natural weed killers and pest deterrents. Some at-home solutions for weeds include a solution of salt and vinegar or boiling water (pour this on weeds when your dog is NOT around). Beneficial insects and worms also help prevent unwanted pests eating your plants. And whether or not you have a space to plant in, a porch with room for a small herb garden box, or just a windowsill, you can still grow these easy, dog friendly herbs:

Chamomile: As everyone knows, due to chamomile tea, Chamomile is a relaxing herb. When made into a tea in can help with teething pain in puppies, and can ease young dog’s anxiety and nervousness during the adolescent stage. When your pup is older it can also help them with any sleep or digestive issues. It can also be used topically on the skin to help with rashes and can even make wounds heal faster.

Fennel: Fennel is known to be incredibly good for digestion. The seeds are especially good for this and for getting rid of intestinal parasites. You can even add the whole plant to your dog’s meals to help with overall health.

Dandelion: If you have a lawn, you may not even have to plant this one! You can use the whole plant as a powerful diuretic, and on top of that it’s full of potassium and is beneficial for the kidneys and liver.

Rosemary: Rosemary can be added to food, or as a rinse at the end of the bath that will not only make your pup smell amazing, but is very good for the skin, and it promotes hair growth and can enhance color and shine. It’s antifungal, antiseptic and antibacterial, so it’s a very beneficial herb to have around. It does not grow well inside, however, so this one is better suited to be planted next to a house or perhaps kept on the balcony.

Echinacea (Purple Coneflower): If you’ve ever taken echinacea when you’ve felt yourself beginning to get sick, you know that it can work wonders in boosting the immune system, and helping ward off the cold you feel coming on. It’s best used at the beginning of an infection or even a fever, or even topically on wounds or, heaven forbid, a snakebite. It also helps decrease inflammation and fight infection.

Sage: Sage is great at settling stomach and digestive issues, and is known for being a cure-all for a variety of things, and has been used throughout history. You can add it to your dog’s food every day to help overall health.

Parsley: Parsley is rich in minerals, helps ward off diseases through maintainance of pH levels, and it’s great for digestion and fantastic help to the bladder and kidneys. Plus, on top of all that it improves digestion, which is a bonus any dog owner would love!

 Build a designated potty area

The high levels of nitrogen in dog urine can be extremely harmful to grass, so create a space with gravel or mulch where you would prefer that your dog do its business. Something vertical can help your dog identify the area quickly. As with any potty training, be sure to reward your dog when it uses the correct area, and reprimand it when it doesn't.

Dig In: Just as you would put in a sandbox for kids, consider putting in a digging box for your dog. Fill it with soil or a soil-and-sand mix, and create some sort of border as a visual cue. If the dog digs outside of the boundaries you’ve set, be sure to admonish it and show it to the digging box. Bury chew toys in the soil to make the dig even more fun!

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