Our pets are like our children and we want to keep them safe. Although stubborn, mischievous, rough around the edges and inquisitive life would be boring without them. We would be the first to admit that sometimes it can be hard to live with them, especially when your dog has raided the garbage and turned your home into a frat house. But truth be told you surely can't imagine your life without them. There is so much joy that comes with pet ownership.
Like parents, it is a pet owners responsibility to lovingly care for our pets. During the summer months we need to take extra precaution to protect them from fleas, heatstroke and indoor & outdoor household hazards. So with summer forging ahead some of you are battling those weeds, pesky bugs and neighbors with the perfect the manicured lawn for the coveted bragging rights for best lawn. While you are partaking in this summers lawn care & garden wars remember safety first. Keep your pets safety in mind when you are gardening, landscaping and shopping at your local lawn care store. If you are an avid gardener, landscaper or lawn mower here are some healthy & eco-friendly lawn care and gardening pet safety tips to consider.
1. Grass is Greener, but is it Safe- Just like you, our plants need food & nutrients to live & grow. Although your neighbors lawn may be greener, the question is… is it safer? Certain fertilizers can pose as a threat to your pets digestive tracts, health and cause death. So fight the yard & lawn wars the all natural & eco-friendly way by using your lemons, egg shells, and banana as the secret ingredient to your fertilizer. You neighbor who wins lawn of the year every year won't know what hit him and will be asking whats your secret. Not only are you doing your part for Mother earth, composting your kitchen or yard waste (not dog poo!) will reduce your cost and need for chemical fertilizers. Homemade fertilizer is a great way to give your lawn & garden the essential nutrients that your plant and grass are shouting for.
2. Alternatives to Pesticides- It is common nature to reach for a chemical pesticide when you are faced with lawn or garden pest infestation. But do keep in mind that a lot of these harsh chemical have a big warning sign on the bottle aren't meant for human consumption, but also for four legged companions as well. Our pets who love to roam, explore and taste the world with their mouths. Using toxic pesticides & herbicides will expose them to these harsh chemicals with the likelihood of your pet consuming the plants sprayed with these toxic chemicals. Worse yet is that many of these pesticides are designed to stay in the environment weeks after application. So while your pet is rolling joyfully in the grass, munching on grass, and playing a game of fetch they are exposed to these toxins & put at risk for weeks. Did you know that last year the ASPCA received more then 2,000 calls related to fertilizer exposure.
Fortunately there is a solution & safer alternative for the average avid gardener, you can have the best of both worlds. You can rid your life of those garden & lawn pest and protect your pet. If you are having a problem with aphids, spider mites or insects they can be eliminated or reduced with a simple spray of water. Place your nozzle on the appropriate setting so your plants don’t wash away with those pesky insects. Or fill your watering can and shower away. It may take a few sprays or soaks but the infestation should clear up in days. Just make sure your hose & nozzle is turned off after use to conserve water.
Another great alternative is soap & water, amazing huh! If your insects are like the Terminator and won’t get the hint, you can add a teaspoon of dish soap to a gallon of water. Pick you weapon of choice and opt to reduce, reuse & recycle an old spray bottle. Just make sure the spray bottle you use has been properly cleaned so you are not tainting your solution. The soap acts as an irritant to insects and breaks down their exo-skeleton giving you the victory and joy of saying those famous words “Asta la Vista Baby”.
Lawn Care Food for thought! Read labels when choosing commercial lawn care products, fertilizers or insect sprays. Don't forget to go the all natural route that is both safe for pets, good for your plants and safe for earth.
3. Death by Chocolate Mulch-Many gardeners use cocoa bean shells to landscape their yards & gardens. But remember cocoa beans are a by-product of chocolate which is toxic to pets. Sure “Death by Chocolate” is a fun name for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, but when it comes to pets this saying can be taken literal. Dogs are not ones to have discriminating taste or be finicky eaters, they will tend to eat anything & everything in front of their noses. For a dog if it smells good, and taste good then it must be good for them, a misconception that dogs just don't understand.
But who can’t resist the sweet smell of chocolate, well like many humans, dogs don’t have the will power. Dogs let their snouts and tummies do the talking for them. Ingestion of cocoa mulch can cause some serious health problems from vomiting, diarrhea, tummy aches, muscle tremors, elevated heart rate, hyperactivity and seizures. Instead go with a less toxic alternative like shredded pine, ceder or hemlock bark. But remember the true key to pet safety is supervision, so keep an eye on your pet when they are outside. Because hey, you don't want your dog digging up your prized flower bed.
As my friends would say at the ASPCA or Pet Poison Helpline when in doubt call for help for a peace of mind!
Long live the lawn & garden wars! May the healthiest lawn or garden triumph.
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