Sunday, April 25, 2010

Spring Gardening

Do you love to garden?  I took advantage today of the few moments of sun to get some seeds in the ground.  As I was working I was reminded of a neighbor down the street who's dog loves to lay beside him as he gardens.  It always does my heart good when I drive by and see them out there together.  As you work on your garden this spring and summer here are a few tips to remember.

There are some garden materials that are not safe for pets.  See the ASPCA "Guide to Pet-Safe Gardening"
for a list of items to use cautiously, or not at all, in your garden.  Another website has a list of Cat friendly plants that can help to keep your furry feline safe.

Below are some comments from the Pet Poison Helpline about fertilizers.

For whatever reason, many dogs thoroughly enjoy snarfing up fertilizer products, which may contain peat moss or bone meal, or other tasty ingredients. A dog might eat a teaspoon or pounds of the stuff, depending on his or her palate. Generally speaking, fertilizer products are not highly toxic. The most concerning ingredients contained within would be iron, or any insecticide which may have been added for dual purposes. If your dog has ingested a fertilizer product, I would advise you to call a veterinary professional. We can then determine if the ingestion is potentially harmful, based on the product's ingredients. If a large ingestion takes place, and the product contains iron, the risk for toxicity is great. I have personally spoken to a woman whose Labrador ingested six pounds of fertilizer! We would then want to initiate preventative measures to ensure the safety of the dog. Regardless of iron content or insecticides within, a small lick (a teaspoon or less) is not likely to be significantly harmful even in a tiny dog.

Despite the level of toxicity, another serious concern when cups or pounds of fertilizer have been ingested is the risk for intestinal obstruction. The material can clump together in the stomach or intestinal tract, unable to pass through. If the ingestion has been fairly recent, there are steps to be taken in order to prevent this. If not, you would want to watch him or her very closely over the next few days for recurrent vomiting, persistent diarrhea, loss of appetite, or painful belly. If those signs develop, contact your veterinary hospital immediately. In the worst case scenario, intestinal surgery is necessary to remove the obstruction.

Even if your fertilizer is neatly contained within an unopened container, hide it safely in a cabinet or place it up high, out of the reach of your dog. They'll not think twice about opening up the bag, spreading it around the patio or yard, and potentially enjoying it as a special snack. At worst, you could be dealing with toxicity. At best, you could have a significant mess to clean up!

Last, a poem found in the April/May 2010 issue of The Bark Magazine.


My dog
has disappeared into the hydrangeas,
her tail, a taut corkscrew,
nearly as imaginative as a hydrangea
and tipped with a white bud.

"Dog," I say, "get out of the garden."
The hydrangeas shake.

Later she trots our to me,
Pokes my novel with her nose.

What is it you wanted? she huffs,
I am busy discovering new lands
and eating bugs.

- Amy C. Elliott

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