The pandemic has created much turmoil. However, the changing world and being locked up at home has also led to some unforeseen domestic brightness including, for example, houseplants and gardening! Who knew they were so awesome?
Emerging as a growing trend (and lifestyle) over the early months of the pandemic, plant people are now everywhere. Their hashtags trend daily, and plant authorities have blown up on YouTube. Social media feeds are filled with aspiring botanists and burgeoning green thumbs tending their fiddle leaf figs and starting patio gardens—and that’s great!
What’s not great, though, is plant toxicity in pets. Some of the most common houseplants can be devastating to pet health.
Still, all it takes are a few simple steps to achieve a happy medium between all living things in a home. With proper research and prudent planning, your favorite family members—both leafy and furry—can thrive and enjoy their lives with a caring person. With that in mind, here are 3 pet-friendly plant and landscaping tips!
Start With an Inventory
If you’re already on your botanical journey, take a moment and understand your plants. Often, house plants are chosen for their looks or unique growing needs, which are important. However, you really should be paying attention to their health impacts.
Nearly 14,000 yearly pet poisonings are due to plants. It is therefore imperative to understand which of your plants are safe, and which should be assessed. Start a journal and note all of your plants, both indoors and out. Indicate which parts of the plant are toxic, and state the symptoms your pet might show if they are poisoned.
Be sure to tailor this journal to your pets. Some plants that are harmful to cats are safe for dogs, and vice versa. Also, be mindful of older pets or those with existing health conditions. They might fare worse with plants that may only cause mild symptoms in young or healthy animals.
Additionally, always be specific with your notes!
If you have a home with landscaping, start a separate journal for your outside features. Outdoor plants can be just as harmful as houseplants. Azaleas and hydrangeas are particularly nasty for animals, but they’re quite popular for flower gardens. Thus, put up safe fencing to keep your pets away.
Better yet, create pet-friendly landscaping throughout your yard. Give them an area for play, relaxation, and doing their various business. Avoid harmful features such as blisteringly-hot red brick. Replace it with easily cleaned artificial turf. Give them clear walkways that avoid problem areas. If you’re adding features, look at shade trees to provide plenty of shade for your furry friends.
And don’t stop with just your home. Get to know the flora at local dog parks, neighbors, and family members’ homes. Simply identifying toxic plants can save a pet’s life.
Remove or Reposition Toxic Plants
The easiest way to ensure your pets stay safe is to get rid of problem plants and features. Many beautiful and intriguing plants are perfectly safe for animals. Bromeliads and spider plants are both gorgeous and safe. For the outdoors, sunflowers and snapdragons add beautiful color without harming your dogs or cats.
However, if you can safely manage your plants and pets, keep the harmful species in special, pet-free areas, especially where your pets already know not to go. High shelves and kitchen countertops are common no-go zones, but be sure your curious cats or tall dogs can’t reach them.
Convert an extra room into the plant den. Not only can you keep it locked up, you can also ensure proper climate targets to keep even the most temperamental plants happy and thriving.
In the backyard, you can take some of the same steps. Identify and remove toxic plants to be safe. And get rid of problematic landscaping items, including those sharp edges and features with standing water. Plant gardens in raised beds or pots. This can help eliminate pet nibbling and illness (nightshades like potatoes and tomatoes can hurt your dogs).
If your pets spend a considerable amount of time outside, look into upgrading the backyard for all aspects of safety. At night, turn to high-efficiency or solar-powered lights to keep the yard illuminated. Install security cameras to monitor them at all hours. Upgrade to a lockable pet door. Thanks to the recent push for net zero energy in construction, there are plenty of Energy Star rated products that will help keep energy waste (and electric bills) down.
Plan for Future Additions
Now that you’re better prepared to keep your pets safe, start planning for the next purchases. Download plant-identifying apps and pull them up at the nursery. Look for potential issues before you buy. You can do the same for outdoor plants as well.
If you have a special plant room at home, be sure any new plants will fit the requirements of the room. Is there a spot with ample sun? Does the plant in question have a temperature and humidity range that works with the current setup? Also, be sure to account for your pets. If your crafty dog can open doors, then you should still avoid placing toxic plants in your plant room.
For future landscaping projects, it can be beneficial to bring in the pros. They will know what materials are best for pet paws, which plants offer great play without health hazards, and how to design a yard to keep pets safe and engaged.
Have a professional ensure proper drainage for bathroom areas and muddy spots. This can be the difference between tossing down some pea gravel or digging an irrigation ditch.
Professionals will also often know which plants, fertilizers, and other materials can be dangerous to pets. You know that chocolate is dangerous to dogs, but did you know cocoa mulch is also toxic?
Pets and plants can and should coexist in peace. We benefit from pets and plants, and our pets benefit from plants and humans. Of course, plants are content to just grow and be magnificent, but they still need us for light and water.
Ensure this cycle of wonderment is kept safe for all. Study your plants, and create safe areas inside and out. Last but not least, make sure there aren’t any hidden hazards that your pets might accidentally discover.