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Pets and plants. Do they make perfect partners? The garden is a great place for children and pets, right? Correct. But it's sensible to be aware of the potential dangers out there too. Of course there are plenty of practical hazards to be negotiated in both homes and gardens. Particularly the transition between the two. Both pets and children can fall out of windows. One would hope that parents and carers pay great attention to the supervision of children. But perhaps not so with pets.
Dogs and cats can easily be injured or killed by the impact of falling from an upstairs window. Indeed, there is something called High Rise Syndrome which is a name given to the phenomenon of cats falling out of high rise flat windows. They can easily be startled by a noise indoors, especially if they are sitting on a window ledge, causing them to lose their balance.
Some also fall during the act of trying to catch a passing bird or insect. It seems that cats falling from higher windows can actually sustain fewer injuries than those falling from lower levels. It is thought that this is because they relax during the fall and land in a safer manner.
There are plenty of safety measures one can take to prevent this hazard. Window guards are probably the most sensible. Alternatively, open several windows just a crack and fix them at that point rather than opening one window wide or having several that can be pushed open by pets.
Then there are plants...
There are dangers lurking at ground level too. Many garden plants are toxic. And these can be deadly to pets. It might surprise you to learn that dozens of common flowers, shrubs and trees are poisonous if eaten by cats and dogs.
damage to the central nervous system including kidneys and liver. You probably know that yew and foxglove are poisonous, but what about tomato plants, asparagus ferns, rhubarb leaves, dahlias and hydrangeas? Did you know, for example, that marigolds, poppies, verbena, lobelia, geranium, lilies and begonia are all poisonous? As are chrysanthemums, peony, wisteria, privet, box and clematis. Some plants can cause
Then there are so many products that many people decide to use within their garden, garage, and within their home. Slug pellets are some of the worst offenders.
In addition, plants that have been previously sprayed with insecticides can then become toxic if ingested. So it's really important to consider what you are spraying around your garden with gay abandon.
The fabric of your boundary
Then there are dodgy fences to consider. You might be careful what you use in your own garden, but what about the neighbours? Cats don't generally respect boundaries but a hole in a fence makes a very tempting adventure opportunity for a young dog. The best approach, of course, is to teach your pet that eating plants or any other random item in a garden is not acceptable. Digging up bulbs is also a no-go area as many of these are toxic too (not to mention expensive). This display of good manners will hold him or her in good stead throughout your gardening relationship.
There are also microscopic predatory nematodes and beetles that can feast on things that gardeners would prefer to be without. Unfortunately, populations of these animals and birds has declined in recent years and this is probably because of garden chemicals together with loss of habitat.
What can you do to protect not only your pets but also wildife?
Become chemical-free. Switch to biological control instead.
Avoid toxic plants within your planting scheme if your pet is prone to nibbling foliage.
Provide safe, palatable greenery that your pet can eat instead.
Check your fences.
There are other dangers lurking in the garden too! Slimy creatures should be avoided too. Read this POST to find out why.
What plants are safe for pets to eat?
There's no doubt that herbs and greenery can be good for pets. Many plants aid digestion, boost the immune system, help cope with hairballs, keep teeth healthy and provide both minerals and nutrients. One of the easiest plants to provide is cat grass or wheatgrass. Indeed, this has been designated a 'superfood' for humans too.
Triticum aestivum is just wheat which has been sprouted. It contains Vitamin A, Vitamin C, lots of B vitamins, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium and potassium. Both cats and dogs love to snack on it. You've probably noticed your pets eating long pieces of grass from the lawn. Well, cat grass is better! Just keep a pot of it in the house and allow them to help themselves. What is it?
Outdoors, there are several herbs which are good for pets. Burdock, for example can help digestive and kidney problems. Peppermint is great for digestion too. Garlic grass (sprouted from a clove) is also good for them, but don't allow them to eat the clove itself as this is toxic. Catmint (Nepeta) is something that cats just love to roll in and sit on, and dogs like it too! Plant valerian, lavender, meadowsweet and even willow. These are all plants that can help keep your animals healthy. And healthy pets mean happy owners. What more could we wish for?