Pet-Friendly Gardening Advice

Gardening is one of life’s simple pleasures and enjoying it with a happy and healthy pet by your side is even better. There are plenty of tips out there for protecting our garden against our pet’s cheeky ways, but for now, let’s focus on keeping our precious pets safe from the risks of exploring a garden that hasn’t yet been pet-proofed with their safety in mind.

Here are some key areas to consider for keeping your gardening pet-friendly.

Snail and slug poison

A key ingredient in most snail and slug poisons is metaldehyde. This compound not only kills snails and slugs, but it is extremely poisonous for cats and dogs too. If you are having trouble with snails or slugs in your garden, there are other, pet-safe options for you to try. There are safer baits on the market, however they are still dangerous for cats and dogs to consume – it just takes a lot more of it to cause any significant problems. Alternatively, some creative methods to deter these pests include:

  • Surrounding your plants with a rough material such as broken shells or lava rock – most will be deterred and any that brave the trip over them will likely be fatally injured.
  • Surrounding your plants with copper mesh for a general deterrence 
  • Placing small open cans (like tuna cans) filled with beer around your garden – the snails and slugs will attempt to drink it and inevitably fall in and drown. Just make sure your children or pets don’t think it’s happy hour and beat them to it! 

Toxic plants

Whilst consumption of any general plant material can induce vomiting or digestive issues for cats and dogs, there are some plants that pose a significant, if not fatal threat to our beloved animals. If you are starting your landscaping afresh, you have the benefit of planning ahead to avoid including any nasties, otherwise, if you are revamping your garden, it’s a good idea to ascertain what plants can stay and which should be replaced, and soon.

Some commonly used plants that are poisonous to cats and dogs include Lilies, Sago Palms, Tulips, Azalea/Rhododendrons, Ivy and Aloe vera. However, there are many more and it pays to be thorough as prevention is better than cure – a comprehensive list of the most commonly poisonous plants to pets can be found via

Flowers that are safe for pets include daisies, camellias, honeysuckle, rose, and sunflowers. Orchids are also popular in climates between 50°-80°F and are safe for pets as long as not ingested. 


Firstly, a commonly used mulch called ‘cocoa bean shell’ may sound yummy, but it is particularly toxic to dogs so best avoided completely. That said, using any kind of mulch isn’t ideal, as pets who chew when curious or bored could choke on it regardless of its toxicity.

There are, however, some safer options to choose from when it comes to toxicity, and if you really must use them, then some supervision is recommended to see if your pet is prone to chewing on it. Pine or cedar-based mulches are recommended alternatives, as well as rubber mulch – there has been some concern regarding its chemical ingredients in the past, but the primary concern is the same as any mulch – the choking hazard. 

Secure your compost bin

These bins contain food scraps that can lure your pets in for a feast, only to have them chow down on foods that can be harmful to them, so make sure to secure the lid of your compost bin every time to add to it. 

Fertilizers and pesticides

Fertilizers are generally safe for pets, however those that contain blood, bone or feather meal can be dangerous for dogs, especially when consumed in significant quantities. Pesticides and insecticides on the other hand, can be life-threatening even when consumed in small quantities, especially those containing organophosphates

If you really must address a pest problem, make sure to find a right pet-friendly product for your garden.

Keeping it trim

According to Dr Zara Boland who is on the advisory board for We’re All About Cats, “Most injuries related to pets in gardens are paw injuries caused by thorns, particularly from rose bushes. If your garden has large bushes or tall grass they may also provide a nice home for fleas, ticks and even snakes, so keeping your garden well trimmed is definitely advised.”

Keeping it clean

Bacteria lurking in the soil can be extremely harmful to pets. Regularly raking damp leaves and staying on top of pet faeces removal is key to maintaining a healthy lawn for your loved ones.

Stay vigilant

If you ever have cause for concern that your pet may have been poisoned, contact your local vet immediately for further advice – keep them calm and do not attempt to induce vomiting unless directed.

In addition to the above, generally monitoring your pets as they wander the garden can alert you to any unforeseen risks – it’s amazing what tricky spots our furry friends can get themselves into!

GUEST BLOG POST written by: Jackie Brown, dog trainer, author and former editor of numerous pet magazines, including Dog World, Natural Dog, Puppies 101, Kittens 101 and the Popular Cats Series.

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With much love, barks, and purrs!

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