Buddy & Porky’s Pet Health: Pets and Gardens

Dear Porky and Buddy,

I am an avid gardener, but also a pet lover and I worry all the time that the “stuff” I use in my garden, even though I try to use mostly organic products and controls, might harm them. But they are always outside with me and roaming around and investigating every new smell and I just worry. Do you have any advice.


Dear Lynn,

Our advice is to keep worrying. Think of your pets as toddlers, actually relatively stupid toddlers, but with highly developed sniffing, digging, rolling, and climbing skills. So don’t stop with just worrying. You have to use caution in storing and using most of these products.

· Insecticides. These are used to reduce the number of annoying and damaging insects. Some, even those that are less environmentally questionable, can be highly toxic to pets. Choose these products wisely, read your labels, and store them carefully.

· Herbicides. These are used to reduce weed growth. Generally, most are only significantly toxic if ingested from the bag. After application to the lawn, the toxicity level is reduced. Once again, read the label.

· Fertilizers help make lush dense lawns. They are primarily toxic if large amounts are ingested. Once the lawn or garden is fertilized, toxicity levels are quite low. Organic fertilizers are generally safer but because they are organic they may have irresistible aromas, so with all fertilizers, careful storage is a must.

· Baits. Several gopher, vole, mole and other vermin baits are available. Most of these can be highly toxic since many contain strychnine, an extremely poisonous alkaloid*. *And what’s wrong with a few moles anyway? We say leave them alone.

· Snail and slug baits. These are frequently used, and if ingested, some can cause serious and potentially fatal tremors and seizures. Snail baits whose only ingredient is iron phosphate are much safer. We understand not wanting to leave the snails and slugs alone.

· Citronella candles. They are used to deter mosquitoes but may cause gastrointestinal inflammation in dogs, resulting in vomiting and diarrhea. And yes, you know that dogs will try to eat things like candles.

Mulch. Most mulches are safe if ingested but there is one potentially toxic type of mulch. Cocoa bean mulch is made from the hulls of cacao beans and when fresh has a rich, chocolate aroma. Ingestion of large amounts of fresh mulch can result in chocolate toxicity. To keep your pets safe, keep the away from the mulch until the chocolate aroma has gone. A thorough watering or heavy rainfall often reduces the potential toxicity.

The basic rule is to keep lawn and garden products stored in an area that your pet cannot enter. And during application of these products, keep your pet confined in a safe area.

Come find a new pet to share your gardens with at our Summer Is for Pets Adoption Day on Saturday, July 10th from 11 to 2 pm at the Tractor Supply Company, Rt 104 East in Oswego. Lots of cats and kittens and maybe some dogs to entertain you and become you new best friend.

Or get our of the garden and come play with us for a good cause at the 10th Annual Chasing & Fetching Balls (a/k/a Golf) Tournament. It’s Friday, July 16th at Greenview Country Club in West Monroe. For details, online registration, or a downloadable mail-in form, go to www.oswegohumane.org.

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County. Our office is located at 265 West First Street, Oswego, New York. Phone (315) 207-1070. Email: [email protected] Website: www.oswegohumane.org