As we approach the last week of summer, many people are still enjoying the warmer weather and spending some much-needed time outdoors with our furry friends. For those lucky to have one, we might like to think of our gardens as our own little haven – but the same doesn’t always apply for our pets. PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing shares her five top tips for protecting your pets from hidden hazards.
1. Avoid poisonous plants
“Though they might be beautiful to look at, some plants and flowers are best kept well away from our pets. It’s shocking to know that common garden flowers like hydrangea, foxgloves, lily of the valley and geraniums contain toxins that can be very dangerous for our curious companions if they decide to try and eat them. It’s always worthwhile to check that any plants you’re about to pot are pet-safe – so that your borders are both a beautiful sight and a safe environment.
2. Switch to natural pest control
“Although slugs and snails are the bane of a gardener’s life, before reaching for the chemicals, remember that pesticides can be equally harmful to your pets as they can be to the pests. Instead, encourage natural predators like hedgehogs, frogs and toads to keep unwanted diners away. Try planting sacrificial plants to keep insects away from your prized bloomers and vegetables or just simply rely on birds to gobble up pests, by making your garden bird friendly. These are all safer options for you and your pet but it’s a good idea to keep your furry friends away from the helpful wildlife!
3. Pet-friendly resting spots
“Four-legged family members can easily overheat on warmer days, so make sure there are plenty of shady spots where they can relax. Trees and large shrubs create great shade, but you can also set up shelters or drape sheets over the end of an exercise run for smaller pets. If your pet enjoys sunbathing on the lawn, don’t forget that they might be at risk of sunburn and you might need to apply pet-safe suncream, especially to areas with thin or light coloured fur. If your garden is more of a wildflower meadow, be careful to direct your dog away from those long grasses. Long grass can attract lots of wildlife which means your pet could come into contact with ticks, and long eared grass seeds which can work their way into places where they shouldn’t be, which might result in vet help to get them removed.
4. A protected pond
“Ponds are great for wildlife and can transform your garden into a haven for frogs, newts and all kinds of insects. Despite this, they can sometimes be a hazard for curious cats, dogs and rabbits. It’s a good idea to fence around the area or fit a guard on top or maybe have multiple shallower, small ponds that are great for wildlife and safer for your pets to be around. These handy protections will prevent any unexpected guests from falling in the water, especially those furry friends who may be too curious for their own good. Don’t forget to give your pet another source of fresh water instead!
5. Secure the perimeter
“A sturdy fence will help prevent pets from being able to squeeze through any gaps or holes and go on an unplanned adventure. Don’t forget that small gaps in damaged fencing could trap your pet’s foot or nose if they start to get curious and small pets can dig and create their own holes if they don’t have a safe outlet for their behaviour, such as a dig box. As well as keeping your pet safely inside the garden, a secure fence will also assist in keeping out predators like foxes, allowing smaller pets to roam safely. Ensuring that a fence is tall enough is equally important, as it will prevent any curious four-legged friends from attempting a great escape.”
PDSA is the UK’s largest vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information. www.pdsa.org.uk