Pet Hazards in Your Yard

by Megan on March 19, 2011


With spring just peeking around the corner many of us are anxious to get out there and start using our green thumbs in our yards and gardens. While watching Chuck do his morning rounds around the back yard, while sipping my coffee on this rare sunny morning in Tacoma, I noticed he did a variety of things in his morning routine (besides the morning potty) like sticking his face into every plant to sniff for any trespassers, rubbing up against the trees, rolling in the grass and doing a taste test on anything that smelled interesting (male dogs are so gross sometimes).

I decided I should look into what types of common yard products could be hazardous to our pet’s health and what we should avoid putting in our “Pet Friendly” yards. Luckily our yard is not that hazardous since we haven’t done a darn thing to it besides mow it in the year we have lived here. However, I have great plans to change this and hopefully the neighbor’s perception of us as decent home owners, with some landscaping plans ready to fit into my warrior weekends and I am ready to start choosing plants and products. Here is a few Pet Yard Hazards to avoid while planning your yard care routines this spring:


Just a very small selection of some commonly used plants in yards in the Northwest. While most plants can cause vomiting, diarrhea and depression I tried to pick some nasty ones that could cause death or major physical issues. Definitely leave these types out of your yard. For a full list of toxic plants visit the ASPCA Poison Control Center Site

Azalea/ Rhododendron.

We have a lot of these in the Northwest. Ingesting just a few leaves can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyper salivation, weakness, coma, hypotension, CNS depression, cardiovascular collapse and death in dogs and horses*. Best to supervise your pet if you have these in the back yard and avoid these on your daily walks. Definitely WATCH your dogs if you visit the Rhododendron Garden at Point Defiance Park.


I love these beautiful flowers  but will be crossing them off my list of plants to purchase. Begonias can cause oral irritation, intense burning and irritation of mouth, tongue and lips, excessive drooling, vomiting, difficulty swallowing. Tubers are the most toxic*.


I love chamomile tea but forget growing this if you have pets. This can cause contact dermatitis, vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, allergic reactions. Long term use can lead to bleeding tendencies*.


So much for one of my favorites. Daisies can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation, incoordination, dermatitis*.

 Fox Glove

Very popular in the Northwest but this stuff is nasty. I was always on the look out for this when I had horses. Very toxic to all pets. Fox Glove can cause cardiac arrhythmias, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, cardiac failure, death.


I couldn’t live without this stuff. As Emeril says “You just need 30 or 4o gloves in this dish” LOVE IT!! But this is VERY, VERY BAD for your pet. Don’t plant this but also be very careful about feeding your dogs table scraps that have garlic in them. Chuck misses out big time since I never cook with out it. Garlic can cause Vomiting, breakdown of red blood cells (hemolytic anemia, Heinz body anemia), blood in urine, weakness, high heart rate, panting*.


I know quite a few cats that like to try and chew on these. These are very common in flowerbeds so keep an eye out and try not to keep these as house plants if you have cats. Too much temptation. Can cause vomiting, anorexia, depression, dermatitis*.

*Info on toxic plants was maintained from the ASPCA Poison Control Center Site 



Always follow the instruction on the product you use. Most have pet friendly application methods. Many animals have reactions from fertilizers because they track it in on their feet and then ingest while grooming themselves. Fertilizers can cause vomiting, diarrhea, cardiac and liver issues and bloody poop.


The Journal of the American Veterinary Medicine Association linked bladder cancer in dogs to an over exposure to lawn pesticides in their April 15, 2004 study. Mostly these products will cause mild gastronomical upset but it’s worth looking into alternatives.

 Go Local Tip: For a great resource on chemical free and pet friendly ways to maintain your yard visit the Garden Sphere on Proctor Street in Tacoma. They specialize in organic gardening and yard care.

 Cocoa Mulch

This is a big problem for dogs as most of us know chocolate is extremely toxic due to the theobromine and caffeine it contains. Cocoa mulch is a byproduct of chocolate production and dogs love it because it smells so yummy. It can cause vomiting, tremors, hyperactivity, and of course…diarrhea.

Bone Meal

Bone meal can cause a cement-like ball obstruction in a dog’s stomach and/or intestines if ingested in large amounts. Enough said there.

Blood Meal

According to the  Pet Poison Hotline blood meal can cause vomiting, diarrhea and  severe pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas. Some types of blood meal are also fortified with iron, resulting in iron toxicity.

How to increase your knowledge:

Here are some links to some great sites to research more plants and product that are toxic to animals. These sites also have links to hotlines that can help you if you think your pet is poisoned:

 Pet Poison Hotline

ASPCA Poison Control Center Site


What do you do if you think your pet is poisoned?





 24/7 Emergency Animal Clinics in the Greater Tacoma Area:

The Emergency Animal Clinic

5608 S Durango St

Tacoma, WA 98409


VCA Pacific Avenue Animal Hospital

10234 Pacific Avenue

Tacoma, WA 98444

(253) 537-0241

Happy & Safe Gardening

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