4 Ways to Play It Safe in the Garden

PDSA Vet Nurse, Nina Downing, shares her tips on how to keep your Westie away from hidden hazards this summer.

While beautiful to the eye, some common spring flowers such as hydrangeas, geraniums, foxgloves, and oleanders can be highly dangerous for pets.

With summer upon us, many of us will be spending more time in the garden enjoying the warm weather. Our dogs will also relish the opportunity to spend more time outdoors, and the garden can offer the perfect space for them to roam and play to their heart’s content. Yet, while our gardens do offer safety, they still pose some risks.

With a little thought and planning, however, there are simple steps you can take to ensure your outdoor space is paw-fect for your pooch.

1. Avoid Poisonous Plants

“Our furry friends are naturally curious and are sometimes tempted to chew on plants or flowers. While beautiful to the eye, some common spring flowers such as hydrangeas, geraniums, foxgloves, and oleanders can be highly dangerous for pets. For avid gardeners, it’s a good idea to fence off areas where you’re planting autumn bulbs or cover the soil with mesh to stop paws from getting access. Bulbs have a higher concentration of nutrients than plants and flowers, making them a greater risk.

2. Say No to Garden Chemicals

Anyone with green fingers will know that weeds and pests can be a real bugbear but for those with a dog at home it’s important to steer clear of dangerous chemicals in our gardens. Avoid using weed killers as they can be harmful to your pet. Pesticides such as slug pellets can also have fatal consequences for dogs if eaten – and for other pets and wildlife too. Hedgehogs and birds are a great environmentally friendly alternative for keeping bugs at bay. Try attracting them by providing easy access routes under fences for hedgehogs and ground water sources such as a birdbath or water fountain, along with bird feeders around your garden.

3. Create Dog-Friendly Spaces

While our precious pets love nothing more than frolicking in the grass, they can easily overheat on warmer days. Make sure there are plenty of shady spots, such as under trees or shrubs, where they can retreat to when they’re feeling warm. Dogs may also enjoy a paddling pool where they can cool down. For dogs who love to dig, it’s worth creating a dedicated dig-pit where they can burrow and play without ruining any perfectly pruned borders. You can encourage them to use this spot by praising them and offering treats when they use it correctly.

4. Secure the Perimeter

“Adventurous dogs may be inclined to find gaps in bushes and shrubs, leading them to enter your neighbour’s garden, or worse – a busy road. Installing a sturdy fence will prevent your pooch from squeezing through any holes. Make sure hedgehog entrance holes are kept just big enough and ideally have a solid base, so your dog can’t dig and make them larger. This will allow your dog to explore within the safety of their garden. Make sure your fence is high enough that they can’t jump over it and check regularly for any escape tunnels they may have started digging underneath the fence. Be mindful too of any damage to your fence that could cause paws or noses to become trapped.”

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