Dear Porky and Buddy,
I am an enthusiastic 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?
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, apply them correctly 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. Or better yet, just pull the weeds.
· 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. Most repellents contain castor bean oil. They don’t kill the little buggers, just send them to your neighbor’s yard. But they are much safer.
· 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.
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 them away from the mulch until the chocolate aroma has gone.
A thorough watering or heavy rainfall often reduces the potential toxicity.
Or better yet, use a different mulch.
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.
If you have reason to suspect that your pet has gotten into any of these products, call your vet right away.
Spring is finally here, we think and it’s finally time to garden.
Celebrate at the Oliver Paine Greenhouses Spring Plant Fundraiser, at 125 S. Granby Road, Fulton.
It takes place on May 16 and 17 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Bring the fundraiser flyer, which you can download at www.oswegohumane.org and 15% of your plant purchases will be donated to OCHS.
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.
Located at 110 W. Second St., Oswego, NY.
Phone: (315) 207-1070.
Email: [email protected]
Because People and Pets Are Good for Each Other.