Creating a Pet-Safe Garden
Our pets are extended, well-beloved members of our family and just like our human family members, we want to ensure their utmost safety in their home. This often involves a bit of ‘puppy-proofing’ or ‘kitten-proofing’ in the beginning to keep curious paws out of things that could be harmful such as cleaning cupboards. Or putting up stair-gates to prevent your new, smaller family member from taking an accidental tumble. Many people may concentrate on pet-proofing their home and making sure certain rooms are off-limits however, it can be easier to overlook the garden, particularly if you already have a private, fenced-in space.
The garden can be a great place of joy for you and your pet, but there are a few hidden nasties that should be addressed to ensure your pet doesn’t get into trouble while outdoors. Here are some suggestions for checking over your garden and making sure your pet stays healthy, even when they are running around outsides.
There are a number of plants that can cause your pet to feel sick if ingested. Lily of the Valley and Foxgloves are often an obvious one to avoid (they also make us sick!) but lesser-known species of plant that are bad for your pet include;
- Daffodil Bulbs
- Sweet Pea
- Rhubarb Leaves
- Morning Glory
If you are wanting to have a bit of greenery in your garden while ensuring your pet isn’t going to eat something potentially harmful, stick to the following varieties;
- Spider Plant
- Money Trees
- Boston Fern
- Bamboo Palm
- Bird’s Nest Fern
- Shrub Roses
Kennels and Catios
If your garden fence doesn’t offer unbeatable security – footholds for eager paws to scramble up or lose panels that hard-working noses can quickly sniff out. You might consider investing in a pet-safe dog run or kennel and a catio, a cat patio. These are independently fenced off areas that provide a safe and spacious run for your pet to enjoy themselves without getting themselves into mischief. This is particularly useful to prevent free-roaming cats that often find themselves on dangerous roads and are likely to cause serious harm to the local wildlife population.
You can design your kennel or catio to your own specifications, although there are plenty of free DIY designs and plans available online. You can choose to go a hard-top that is easy to wash down, layered with a lush-green artificial grass top that feels soft under-paw but can still be easily removed and rinsed down with a hose. Or choose to keep your catio/kennel natural with a grassy turf floor. Catios look great with different levels and offer plenty of exploration opportunities for your feline friends to keep them engaged and active. Whereas a kennel should have enough floor space for your dog to comfortably run up and down.
If your garden isn’t quite big enough for a dedicated kennel or catio, there are some adjustments you can make to your fencing to keep your pet safe in the garden. Depending on your pet and its breed, you may have to account for keen diggers and high-leapers, those that are determined to explore the world outside their backyard one way or another. This will include burying your fence deeper or lining under the fence with chicken wire to prevent eager paws digging an escape hole. To prevent climbers, you can use curved boards or chicken wire to create a ‘wave’ effect at the top of your fence that curves into your garden or install free-rolling rollers or ‘anti-climb’ strips that sit on the top of your fence and deter cats from jumping up or climbing over.
Owning a pet comes with lots of responsibility such as keeping them fed and watered and keeping them happy. Keeping them safe can have you running around to ensure all hazards are removed, covering routes to prevent escape and start roaming without supervision. For all the responsibility, the joys and happiness that comes from having a pet makes it all worthwhile and protecting your pet’s long-term health will ensure they get to spend a long and happy life by your side.