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Is your yard a danger zone for your pet?


Think your pet is safe inside your yard? You may be surprised to discover just how many dangers are lurking right outside your home. Check out this eye-opening list of common pet threats. Taking action to avoid or remove these dangers could be the very step that ensures your pet’s long and healthy life.

Dog in Backyard

Lawn fertilizer

The efforts you take to enhance the health of your lawn may end up endangering the health of your pets. Organic fertilizer, such as bone and blood meal, can be harmful for several reasons. According to Dr. Justine Lee, associate director of Veterinary Services at Pet Poison Helpline, “Bone meal is crushed up bone from cattle or fish sources, so it smells and tastes good to dogs. While this isn’t poisonous per se, ingestion of these meals can cause severe pancreatitis—an inflammation of the pancreas—resulting in vomiting, diarrhea, or even organ failure in severe cases.”

Insecticides and rodenticides

“The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center received more than 40,000 calls in 2009 related to poisonings from items found in backyards. One of the largest causes of pet poisonings is from insecticides and rodenticides,” says Amy Nichols, president and CEO of Dogtopia.

Lee says it’s best to keep mouse and rat poisons off your property if you have pets because they often contain ingredients that can cause internal bleeding, kidney failure, and brain swelling.

If you suspect that your pet has ingested something harmful, contact your local veterinarian immediately. You can also call the Pet Poison Hotline or the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline for help.


Chemicals aren’t the only dangers lurking in your yard. Many plants are toxic, too. Jonathan Klein, founder of the Los Angeles-based, personalized dog training center, I Said Sit!, says, “Bulbs, such as daffodils and gladiolas, certain types of ferns and flowering plants, such as hydrangea, can be harmful if ingested. Azaleas, apricot, nectarine, and peach seeds should also be kept out of reach.”

An extensive list of more than 200 potentially harmful plants can be found at


“Most dog owners have had to contend with their dog digging through their trash at some point, and while this is a real nuisance, there are also potentially harmful things in trash such as turkey or chicken bones. Bones splinter and can cause severe internal injuries,” says Nichols.

She recommends storing trashcans in the garage, shed, or outside of your fence to make sure pets are unable to access them.

Electrical wires

Inside the home, many pet owners are conscientious about keeping electrical cords out of their pet’s reach. Unfortunately, cords found in the backyard are often overlooked. Klein says, “It’s important to make sure all exposed wires, say an electric sprinkler, are covered or out of reach. Dogs have been known to chew through wires and can be electrocuted.”

Other people

Klein acknowledges that, as a pet owner, you can do everything in your power to protect your pet from backyard dangers, but unfortunate incidents still have the potential to occur. “Gardeners, meter readers, and landlords might leave a gate open upon entry or leave something behind that could harm your pet. Make sure to talk to anyone with access to your yard about the importance of keeping gates closed, chemicals or pesticides locked away, and not to leave anything potentially harmful behind.”


Selena Dehne is a book publicist, freelance writer and lifelong Hoosier. She is a regular contributor for and has published dozens of other articles on and Follow her on Twitter at @SelenaDehne.

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