Animal Safety in the Garden

We all love to get outside and play with our pets in our garden, but there are some things that can pose a risk to your pet. Below we run through some of the main risks but this is not a limited list of risks. You should always supervise your pet when they are playing outside.

Ground covers

Bare dirt in your garden can be an area which may tempt your dog to dig up. It can also be convenient for cats looking for a toilet area. If you have an outdoor cat, you can create an area in the garden convenient for your cat to use as a toilet. Sand is a common choice for cat toilet areas, and this will help keep them out of your flower beds. To avoid your garden being dug up and used as a public cat toilet, try ground covers such as mulches.

If placing mulch in your garden be careful what material it is made of, particularly if your dog is known to chew. Bark mulches are tempting for dogs to chew on which can be harmful if the mulch is not dog friendly. Cocoa bean mulch comes from the chocolate industry, it has an appealing scent but is dangerous for dogs when eaten.

Garden Chemicals, Tools, and Equipment

It goes without saying, you should always protect your pets from garden chemicals. To protect your pet from fertilisers, insecticides, and other garden chemicals make sure to store them in a safe location. If storing these in the shed, there is most likely sharp tools here too, ensure that there is no holes or hidden access that your pet may find a way in.

When purchasing garden chemicals keep in mind that organic, eco-friendly, or natural products are still toxic for your pet. Fertilisers can give off an attractive scent which entices pets. When it comes to natural fertilisers (bone, blood, seaweed, manure, compost) these too can be risky for your pets.

Avoid using non-organic slug pellets, these are toxic to all wildlife, especially your pets. Lungworm can be contracted from eating infected slugs/snails. Signs and symptoms of lungworm include coughing, lethargy, breathing difficulty, and bleeding for longer than usual. Avoid additive in ponds as dogs are tempted to drink from these.

Compost Piles and Bins

In a dog’s world, compost bins may smell amazing! However, the rotting organic material inside them can contain dangerous bacteria, molds, and other pathogens. The food scraps are also dangerous. Foods such as grapes, raisins, onion, avocados, and tomatoes can be harmful to your dog. Thus, it is critical that you ensure your pet can not gain access to your compost bin.


Many plants common throughout gardens in Ireland are toxic if ingested and can also cause irritation for us humans and our pets. Various plants can cause mild to severe effects, and some of these are more tempting, and riskier to our pets than others. These plants include chrysanthemum, aconite, buttercup, daffodil, foxglove, hydrangea, oak, tomato, wisteria, and yew. Also, edible garden vegetables, berries, and fruits, which are delicious for us humans are toxic for our pets.

Also, take care with stone fruits which are a choking hazard even if the fruit is non-toxic. Research plants before placing them in your garden, you can still have a beautiful garden if you have pets, there are many plants which are not dangerous for dogs. For example, snapdragons, Michaelmas Daisies, camellias, rose, sunflowers, elaeagnus, centaurea (cornflower), impatiens and calendula. If worried about your pet and think they may have digested part of a plant, please call your vet.