Things That Can Harm Your Dog In Your Own Backyard


It’s no secret that most dogs love being outside. And now that the weather is nice you, yourself, may even find yourself spending more time outside gardening or just relaxing. There’s so soothing about the outdoors, especially in the summer and especially for pets. In fact, if your yard is gated, you may even find that putting your dogs outside is an anxiety cure-all. Regardless of what they were initially barking about, they seem to forget the instant they’re outside. It’s as if they become too distracted by the new environment to bark. For instance, my dog likes to watch bugs and much to my chagrin play in the garden and go through the recycling, with little regard for the fact that I’m watching him. 

No matter if you are enjoying outside activities with your dogs (gardening, sunbathing, playing catch, etc.) or simply putting your dogs out in hopes of silencing the barking, it just seems like an easy solution. Regardless of the reasoning, in the end, everyone seems happy. With that being said, though, there are a few things to consider.

Yes, even the splendors of nature may be harmful to your dog. According to the Pet Poison Helpline website, some of the most harmful things to our pets health can be found in our own backyards, literally. They go on to list the items: mulch products, snail and slug baits, fertilizers, pesticides, and even flowers and compost. I’m also adding certain bugs to the list. 

A lot of mulch uses uses “discarded hulls or shells of the cocoa bean… by-products of chocolate production.” And who doesn’t love chocolate? Unfortunately, it is not safe fo dogs to consume, even though their heightened sense of smell may tempt them. Luckily not all cocoa bean mulches have high enough levels of theobromine and caffeine to be toxic, but if you notice a change in your dogs’ behavior after they were outside or near the mulch such as “vomiting, diarrhea, or hyperactivity,” there’s a chance it was due to the mulch. 

The website also mentioned composting, which is great for the environment but apparently not so great for pets. The website explains that “As the organic matter decomposes, it is common for molds to grow, some of which produce hazardous tremorgenic mycotoxins. When consumed by an animal, moldy food or compost ingestion can result in sickness and physical distress in as little as 30 minutes.” 

Some other harmful things to look out for include various flowers and plants, and bugs. Specific flowers and plants include, but are not limited to: Sago Palm, Lilies of the Valley, Crocuses, and Lilies. As far as bugs are concerned, it’s almost the same as it is for people. Be aware of biting and stinging bugs around your dogs. 

This was a lot of information, so here are some tips to help! There are a lot of different mulches; some are even labeled as pet friendly, so, if you’re just starting a new yard project try one of those options. For example, in my yard, we opted for a rubber mulch that’s much less toxic. If you already have the mulch, or harmful plants, or if you’re a composter, don’t sweat it! It’s really hard to fully watch your dogs 24/7. Just fence off or block the areas where the mulch, compost, and/or plants are. As for the pests, do not use human repellent on your dogs. There are a lot of great bug sprays made specifically for pets. 

If you think your dogs may have gotten sick from something after being outside, call the Animal Poison Control Center ((888) 426-4435) and then your vet. The APCC is available around the clock. Then, call your vet. Another great resource for less serious and extreme cases is the Pet Poison Helpline’s phone app.