It’s well known that chocolate is toxic to dogs, but it turns out more than half of British animal lovers aren't aware that house plants can pose an even greater threat to pets.
For many of us, flowers and house plants are our pride and joy, particularly as Brits spend another summer in their gardens due to continuing uncertainty with travel.
But what many of us don't realise is how poisonous they can be to our four-legged friends.
New research from the charity, Guide Dogs has found more than 65 per cent of UK dogs – approximately 7.8 million – are exposed to poisonous plants in their very own gardens.
Though many are at risk, only a third of owners (36 per cent) know to keep their eyes on their dogs while they sniff around the back yard.
With 48 per cent of UK dog owners with outside space claiming to be gardening now more than ever, this is especially concerning as only 50% have thought about what plants are poisonous when planning their beds.
This is despite a third of owners (32 per cent) admitting they have caught their dogs eating plants before.
Perilous plants are not limited to the garden either – the common household Sago Palm is so toxic to dogs that one seed alone ingested from this dwarf tropical tree could result in death, yet only 10 per cent of owners are aware of this and 4 per cent even have the poisonous plant in their home.
The most popular plants that pose a risk
A further four in 10 (39 per cent) of dog owners are oblivious that certain plants can induce sickness when ingested, and over half (51 per cent) are not aware it could even prove fatal.
Other symptoms as a result of poisoning are diarrhoea, excessive drooling, lethargy and difficulty swallowing.
The charity advises that owners also need to watch out for substances such as insecticides and poisons used in treating common garden nuisances (used by 39 per cent of dog owners) that can be potentially toxic to dogs.
One in five (19 per cent) dog owners have unwittingly used slug pellets in their garden, unaware of the consequences that can be fatal to dogs.
Owners need to be aware that dogs can also get hay fever – and don't even need to ingest plant substances to feel the effects.
Dr Helen Whiteside, Head of Research at Guide Dogs, said: “As we ready ourselves for the August bank holiday spent in the back garden hosting family and friends, gardening fever kicks in, but it’s important owners put your dog’s welfare front of mind when planning a garden.”
“As much as you would consider light and soil type when buying plants, ensure you think of dog friendliness too.
"Our canine companions are curious by nature and explore the world through their hypersensitive sense of smell and taste – if you invite a dog to share your home you have to ensure it is a safe space for them too. Make sure you check the labels carefully and do your research on what plants will work best.”
How to make sure your garden is dog-friendly
Award-winning garden designer Jonathan Smith has shared his top tips on how to make your house and garden a pooch-friendly paradise:
- Toxic trees: Trees can pack a lot of poison,the main ones to steer clear of are Bird Cherry (Prunus Avium), Horse Chestnut and Oak. But the number one poisonous tree is the Yew, so make sure you definitely don’t have this in your garden.
- Bothersome bulbs: Bulbs can be tempting for dogs due to their ball shape and the fact they are buried, however many are poisonous including hyacinths, daffodils, alliums and tulips – so watch out.
- Check the positioning: Adapt the position of plants to keep dangers out of reach. Most dogs won’t usually eat ivy, but it can be potentially hazardous if eaten in very large quantities. So, if you have large quantities of ivy, especially with berries, consider cutting them back away from ground level
- Quantity control: Be very aware of what you have in your garden. For example, though apples are generally safe for dogs to eat, in large quantities they can be potentially hazardous due to the seeds. Aim to reduce the number of apple trees you have or clear up the fallen apples in the autumn, so they don’t all get eaten.
- Safe for summer: For lots of colour, plants like roses, lilies, hollyhocks and camelias are very dog safe.
- Perfect pots: For pots, borders and hanging baskets go for bedding plants like snapdragons, petunias, salvias, fuchsias and sunflowers.
- Go-to greenery: Choose a native, mixed Hawthorn hedge, which is not only good for wildlife but is also a lot more dog-friendly than Laurel hedges which are often toxic (with the exception of Bay). For lower lying foliage, grasses and ferns are generally good dog safe options.
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