As people have been forced to stay home over the past two years due to the pandemic, caring for houseplants and landscaping projects have grown in popularity as healthy hobbies. Houseplants are a low-stress way to stay calm amidst the chaos of life. And turning your backyard into a dreamscape makes lockdowns less burdensome.
Still, even as you fill your home with English Ivy and Crotons, it’s important to be aware of the danger to your four-legged best friends. Many popular houseplants are toxic to dogs and cats. In the outdoors, even more hazards loom. In addition to dangerous plants, for example, sharp edging and blistering-hot paver stones can injure your pets.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to have plants and pets at home while keeping them both safe. After all, pets are vital to our health and happiness too. Here are some prudent tips to keep your pets – and your plants – happy and healthy.
Get to Know Your Garden
If you already haven’t done so, take a moment and get to know your plants, both indoors and out. Not every plant is poisonous, but there are many common favorites that could cause serious damage to your furry friends. Note which parts of the plants are toxic, and be sure to understand the various symptoms your pets might show.
Also, understand that pets with underlying conditions may be even more at risk. Skin allergies or asthma can worsen from plant exposure, and older pets might not be strong enough to fend off accidental poisoning. That’s why it’s important to keep a journal of all pertinent plant info for indoor and outdoor plants alongside the phone numbers for the emergency vet and poison control, just in case.
If your pets spend time outdoors, study what is growing around your yard (even if you didn’t plant it). While you’re at it, take a look for other hazards. Better yet, incorporate features of pet-friendly landscapes, like a fenced area with lots of shade and pet-friendly foliage, like Pineapple Sage or Polka Dot plants.
Finally, be sure to take a look around the areas away from home where you pet spends a lot of time. That could be dog parks, neighbors’ yards, family members’ homes, or local pet-friendly businesses. A plant-identifying app can help you identify new plants on the go. And these days, no one will offer a second glance as you snap a pic of a begonia at the local park.
(Re)Move the Problem Plants
The great benefit of houseplants is that they stay where you put them. Your pets? Not so much. Dangerous plants and curious pets are not an ideal combination. Once you understand what’s growing in and around your home, take steps to keep your pets safe.
Simply removing or rehoming toxic plants is a foolproof way to eliminate any issues. However, you may not want to just say goodbye to your fiddle leaf fig. Fortunately, you can compromise by delegating a plant-only area of the home. Keep them locked in a special, climate-controlled room where pets aren’t allowed. Or, use some high shelves and countertops to keep them out of sight. Just watch out for the athletic pets; for them, counters are never an obstacle.
The same is true for your yard. Digging up plants and landscaping isn’t always practical. And if you have an edible garden, you can’t just move it. Instead, use chicken wire or decorative fencing to keep pets at bay. This is especially true for pets that come and go outside on their own terms, as there will often be times when you won’t have eyes on them.
For added peace of mind, install security cameras and gate alarms so you can keep an eye on your four-legged companion when they are exploring outside. Next, light up your yard with high-efficiency solar lighting. They’re a great option to keep your pets illuminated even as they do their midnight business.
Plan Future Foliage
Once you’ve seen your first African Violet or Cape Primrose in full bloom, there’s no going back. You’re now a plant person. Welcome to the club!
With diligence and research, you’ll be able to continue honing your green thumb and growing your collection. Before you pick up a new plant baby at the nursery, check its safety stats. Then make a plan for where you’ll place it in your home or yard.
The internet is a great resource, but you shouldn’t hesitate to call the pros if you need help. Your veterinarian can answer any questions you have about whether the greenery is worth the risk, while a local landscape designer can help you plan out the perfect property.
Few things are better than being surrounded by lush, vibrant houseplants, but would your pet say the same? Yes – as long as you do proceed with the proper research, a bit of vigilance, and prudent planning.