Backyard Hazards for Your Pet
1. Fertilizers: Fertilizers can be toxic to your dog and cat. Before using any fertilizers, read all warnings. Even organic fertilizers can be harmful when ingested. Just because they are natural does not mean that it is safe. For example, blood meal contains nitrogen and iron which can cause intense vomiting and diarrhea. Bone meal is another organic fertilizer that can make your pet very ill. The ground bone meal is not toxic in itself, but once ingested it can form a hard ball in the stomach which can cause an obstruction.
2. Blue-green algae: Blue-green algae can grow anywhere there is standing water such as ponds, baby swimming pools, pots, bird baths etc. especially when the weather is hot. Blue-green algae looks like pea soup with a thick layer of algae on the surface. The blooms of the algae contain liver and neurotoxins. Ingestion causes vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, shock, tremors, seizures and possibly even death. If you have anything in your back yard that is collecting water, make sure you dump that standing water.
3. Compost bins or piles Even though you are composting organic matter, decaying matter can produce bacteria, mold and toxins that can be dangerous to your pet and make them very ill. It is best practice to keep your compost bins locked and piles secured away from your pets.
4. Coco bean mulch: Coco bean mulch is made from discarded shells of cocoa beans. This mulch is frequently used in landscaping. When the temperature rises outside, the mulch puts out a sweet smell which attracts dogs to ingest it. Ingestion may cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, fast heartbeat and breathing, and sometimes seizures. When using mulch, please make sure to avoid coco bean mulch.
5. Mushrooms: Not all mushrooms are toxic, but since it is difficult to identify nontoxic mushrooms from toxic ones, it is best to consider them toxic until proven otherwise to be safe. Toxic mushrooms can cause a variety of ailments including stomach upset, liver/kidney damage or neurologic dysfunction. If you see your pet eating any mushroom, contact your veterinarian immediately. If you see mushrooms in your backyard especially after a rain, make sure you remove them promptly.
6. Rat bait: Rat bait should never be put out if you have pets. If you put out rat bait and hide it somewhere in your yard, your pet will likely find it and eat it. Your pet has a keen sense of smell and will be able to find it even if you think you hid it well. If your pet ingests rat bait, it causes serious injury to your pets ranging from severe neurotoxicity to internal bleeding which could lead to death. If you think your pet has ingested rat poison, contact your veterinarian immediately. It is always best practice to put out rat traps, rather than poison.
7. Plants and flowers: There are many plant and flowers common in backyards that can be toxic to your pets if ingested. Several of the most common toxic plants and flowers in Texas are, oleander, sago palm, lilies, onions and garlic, ivy, azalea, lantana and aloe vera. Toxicity can come from the ingestion of the plant itself and, in with some plants, the seeds. Before you plant any plants, flowers, trees or bushes in your backyard, consult the ASPCA Poison Control toxic plant list.