Petscaping is a way to landscape your yard to ensure it is a fun and safe area for your pets to play in. The idea is to create an enjoyable yard that takes into account the interests of both two-legged and four-legged residents.
Petscaping includes removing toxic plants, adding in pet-friendly alternative plantings, and adding attractions water features such as a small swimming pool or agility courses your pet will be sure to love.
Designing a dog-friendly yard
Creating a dog-friendly yard begins with its layout. According to PennState Extension (https://extension.psu.edu/petscaping-creating-a-pet-friendly-garden), here are steps you should consider for creating pet-friendly spaces.
- Establish boundaries: Use short fences or borders to show the yard’s parameters. By using the same materials for all the barriers, your pet will come to recognize the boundaries.
- Provide an area for exercise: Dogs are designed to run. Leave a part of your yard as grass where your dog can run and play. Your pet will be less likely to dash through your beds if you provide a designated area for exercise. Provide toys such as a ball knot toy that hangs from a bungee cord.
- Make pathways: Pathways can help train your pet to know where it should and shouldn’t be in the garden. An excellent method is to notice which route your pet usually takes to a favorite area and make it into a pathway. Use paw-friendly materials such as flagstones or smooth gravel — nothing sharp.
- Build a dig pit: Dogs will dig, so provide a dig pit where your pet can engage in its natural instincts. Fill the pit with sand. Bury toys, bones, or treats just under the surface. Praise your pet for digging in the special area.
- Create an area for elimination: To solve the problem of unsightly brown spots on the lawn caused by nitrogen in dog urine, create a designated area for your dog to eliminate.
- Provide shade: It is important to provide shade – a dog house, overhanding roof, trees with thick canopies, or other area where the sun does not shine. Keep your dog’s water in the shade. And do not leave your pet outside, unattended, for a long period.
- Provide a water source: You need to make sure there is a water source – a bowl, an automatic waterer, or an existing fountain with circulating water. Change water in a bowl frequently to keep it fresh for your pet, and to discourage mosquito breeding and algae growth.
Toxic plants to avoid when Petscaping
When it comes to plants and pet safety, keeping a close eye on your pet while they are out in your yard or garden and keeping any toxic plants out of their reach is key. Here is a list from the ASPCA of the ten most common toxic backyard plants.
- Lilies, including Asiatic lilies and daylilies, can be toxic to both dogs and cats, however the effects are much more severe in cats. Signs and symptoms in dogs tend to be limited to stomach upset, though any eaten bulbs could potentially cause a stomach or intestinal blockage. However, any exposure in cats, including leaves, bulbs, flowers, pollen or water that the flowers have been sitting in, can cause acute kidney injury and even death.
- Azaleas and rhododenrons can have different effects depending on the amount ingested by dogs, cats and horses. In large ingestions, these plants can cause severe signs like irregular heartbeats and seizures. Typically, only a mild stomach upset is seen with small ingestions in small animals.
- Sago palms are highly toxic to small animals and overall dangerous to all pets. While the entire plant is toxic, the seeds or nuts, are the most toxic part. Sago palms can cause severe vomiting and diarrhea, difficulty clotting the blood, liver failure and even death. So, it may be best to keep these out of your yard.
- Tulips, though beautiful, can cause stomach upset, which in some cases can be severe. If large chunks of the bulbs are ingested, it can also cause stomach or intestinal blockage.
- Hydrangeas have the potential to be very dangerous as they contain cyanide. However, it is most common to only see signs of stomach upset in dogs and cats when they ingest this plant. Although cyanide poisoning in small animals is very unlikely, it’s best to keep your furry friends from eating this plant.
- Peace lilies may add a modern flare to your flowerpot, but they are unfortunately toxic to our pets. Luckily, it is unlikely for signs to be severe. Peace lilies contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals, which can cause stomach upset, drooling and mouth pain. But, since they are not absorbed systemically, they don’t cause organ damage.
- Devil’s Ivy or pothos have the same toxic concerns as Peace lilies, meaning the signs are unlikely to be severe and should not warrant medical attention unless the stomach upset becomes more than mild. Nonetheless, be mindful of your pet around this plant, no one likes a belly ache.
- Lantana can certainly add a pop of color to your home, but in rare cases, can cause liver failure in cats and dogs. It is very unlikely and uncommon unless the plant is eaten over a long period of time or in very large amounts. Typically, the most common symptom of ingestion is stomach upset.
- Daffodils can cause stomach upset if ingested, which in some cases can be severe. If large chunks of the bulbs are eaten, it is possible a stomach or intestinal blockage or low blood pressure can occur. Be sure to keep any daffodils away from curious four-legged friends!
- Hostas make for some gorgeous greenery in a backyard. But be sure to pay attention to your pets around them as they can cause stomach upset. Luckily, veterinary care is not typically needed unless the stomach upset is more than mild following an ingestion.
Bottom Line: Dogs love the outdoors! Whether it is exploring new sights and smells or playing fetch, dogs love to have fun. Petscaping your yard is a great way to add fun features that your pets will love and that ensure their safety.
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