Our pets have a special place in our hearts and our homes, but what about our gardens?
When you’ve got a pet or two at home you often have to think twice about everyday tasks. Will I be home in time to walk the dogs? Did I close the window so the cat can’t get out? Is it too hot for my dog at the beach?
When you’re working on your garden there are questions to ask that concern your pets as well. After all, even cats and dogs like napping in the backyard or hanging out at a barbeque! Let’s take a walk through our gardens and look at some ideas for making them a fantastic spot for all our furry family members.
Fur-st Things Fur-st : Keeping cool and hydrated
When it comes to our pets, sometimes we have to think like a human. Even hardcore suntanners don’t like to sit out in the sun for hours without a bit of shade or a cool drink. Your pets (as far as I know) don’t worry about their tan, but they need the same consideration. Make sure there are shady areas that are accessible in your yard. A tree, overhang, or even just a nice empty lawn area near your fence can provide shade during the summer. We all love the feeling of cool grass under our toes!
The dangers of getting dehydrated are advertised so frequently in the summer that we feel like we need to carry a bottle of water when we go outside to grab the mail. Unfortunately, our pets can’t read (although they may have a copy of Harry Pawter under their dog-bed, you never know) so they need us to remind them to stay hydrated. A designated outdoor water dish, kept near the backyard faucet, will help us remember to share the H2O and save us a trip inside.
When Op-paw-tunity Knocks : Keeping Pets in the Yard
Dogs don’t always have a sense of personal space and often like to get up-close and personal with us humans. The same goes for yard space, to a dog every yard is their yard, (hey, who doesn’t like to share?) but our neighbours might not feel the same way. Having a fence can help us avoid awkward encounters with the family next-door. For smaller dogs a three-foot fence is usually adequate, while larger dogs could need a fence up to six feet tall.
Make sure there aren’t any spaces in the fence that your pet can get their head stuck through. Wood, plastic, faux wood, bamboo, or even chain link can all help keep your dog safe. Sometimes instead of going over, dogs will find a way under the fence. If you worry that some escape digging is taking place, you may have to extend your fencing a few inches to a foot into the ground.
Hard work? Whatev-fur! : Keeping Our Gardens Safe
Sometimes we wish we could train our pets to weed or hoe in our garden, however so far no luck. Garden tools should be off limits to pets, so keep them safely stored in a shed or garage and make sure the door shuts securely.
Garden chemicals can be hazardous to our pets, even if they don’t eat the plants themselves. When your cat brushes past the bushes or rolls in the lawn, they can get chemicals on their fur, which they later clean with their tongue. Using natural fertilizers and pest control will ensure that your pets stay healthy. If you need some ideas for keeping out pests take a look at our blog article: Keeping your Garden Safe the Natural Way.
Breakfast at Sniff-anys : Not-So Dog Friendly Treats
Who doesn’t like to snack on some garden fresh peas, cherry tomatoes or strawberries while you’re out in the yard? Dogs and cats don’t always have the most refined palates and can sometimes snack on plants you might not expect. The best way to keep your pets healthy is to make sure you are planting a pet-safe garden. The Pet Safety Helpline has a hand list of poisonous plants for pets which includes symptoms and treatment tips.
Some common ones to avoid are foxglove, azaleas and some lilies. Many dogs never touch the plants in your garden, but you should observe them carefully to make sure they don’t nibble before going ahead and adding plants that could be a problem if ingested. Of course there are plants that pets love as well, for example your cat will adore your garden if you add some catnip or catmint to your garden beds!
Plants aren’t the only thing to eat in the garden. A compost bin can smell like a buffet to a dog, so make sure yours has a lid or fence to keep your food scraps from being devoured. Fermenting or old food could be harmful to your pet. If you decide to feed the birds, make sure that the feeders are high enough to keep your cat from getting an extra snack in during the day. We’ve got more tips on making your garden friendly to wildlife in our blog post Inviting the Right Kind of Wildlife to Your Garden.
We hope you and your pets can enjoy the summer together, West Coast Gardeners, with plenty of blooms, H2O and lazy relaxing afternoons.