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How to keep your dog safe in your garden

As Wahroonga vets enjoying the leafy green of the area with our own pets, we know dogs and gardens are a fun combination. There’s backyard cricket with the kids. Dogs love catching a few rays in the sun or having a snooze under a favourite tree. They also make great places for puppy mad attacks and other times spent together.


There maybe be dog dangers in the garden you are not aware of. Come with our Wahroonga vets as we see what might be lurking in your garden 


Fence lines and security

Photo by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash



We all want to know if we put our dog or puppy in the backyard, it’s where he or she stays. This can be problematic though, especially if you have an active dog.



For example, a Kelpie, Cattle Dog or determined Jack Russell can clear up to 6 foot of fence (180+ cms). A consummate digger may be able to dig their way out from underneath one. Some dogs may break fence palings with their teeth and jaw to see what’s in the outside world. We have helped find lost pets as Wahroonga vets and taken more than a few escapees in, too!  



Then there are issues with ensuring gates latch well. This saves you against wind blowing them open. Or someone forgetting to latch them shut or even someone deciding to remove your pet from the yard.


When considering a dog-proof fence line, it’s always good to:


  • Check that there are no gaps, holes and loose palings or sections – and if there are, block and repair them


  • Bury a fence to at least of 6 inches or 15 centimetres to deter digging


  • Build a fence that is 6 foot or 180 centimetres high to stop jumping


  • Choose materials that can’t get chewed, scratched or barged until they break


  • Install good quality latches on all gates and access points. You may also want to include bells that alert you of entry into your yard, so you and the neighbours can hear it



Sensor lights can also add an extra level of security that could deter would-be pet thieves.



Concerned about the potential hazards in your security system when it comes to your pets? Feel free to ask our nurses and Wahroonga vets for advice next time you are in for a check up.

Compost and BBQ scraps



Australians are conscious of reducing our eco footprint. We also love outdoor entertaining and a good old summer BBQ. While well intended, both these pass-times could be hazardous to your dog.



Dogs cannot eat certain human food. It can make themselves sick and potentially put them at risk. Dr Alex prepared a full list of human food dangers for your pets on our nutrition page for your convenience.



Onions are one of the biggest dangers here. Onions can make your dog really ill. In fact, eating on onion scraps from a BBQ or on a regular basis out of the compost can cause death. That’s if the volume or length of exposure is long enough.



Fermenting vegetable matter in the compost can also be a challenge. It can cause your dog to bloat and fall ill. Mitocrosis mould can also be present and this fungus can be fatal to your dog.



If you are going to compost and/or BBQ on a regular basis, your dog will likely be curious. It’s food after all. That’s why it’s important to ensure your dog cannot gain access to either of these items at any time.

Our Wahroonga vets are also here to help should you think your dog may have eaten something they shouldn’t. Please contact us straight away on (02) 9489 4805 to seek advice. 


Decorative ponds



While it might be lovely to have a decorative pond in the garden, some dogs adore water. It might be tough for example to deter the water loving Retriever or Labrador from taking a dip. Dogs of all kinds also love things that are stinky and forbidden. The temptation to drink them may be a little too much. Especially for young puppies.



It might be annoying to have a dog covered in pond water. It can also put their health at risk should they drink from it or ingest it through play.



Blue-green algae is toxic to both dogs and humans. Even small doses of blue-green algae can make your family pet seriously ill. It’s also something that can grow in any body of freshwater such as ponds, lakes, dams, streams and brackish water.


This soup-like bloom can cause the following symptoms in your dog if swallowed:


  • Vomiting and diarrhea


  • Tarry and/or blood in the stool


  • Seizures


  • Jaundice


  • Confusion, disorientation and a lack of balance


  • Drooling, secretions from eyes, nose and anus


  • Muscle tremors, muscle rigidity or paralysis


  • Shock


  • Discolouration of gums, mucus membranes and skin


  • Coma


  • Difficulty breathing


  • And the potential of death via liver failure



The clue to blue-green algae is in the name. If you see a body of water with a paint-like blue-green film, do not risk contact with your dog. It’s able to bloom all year round but is particularly common in summer in nutrient-rich water supplies.


Garden Plants



All pets have certain plants they shouldn’t have access to.



Daffodils, lilies and other bulb style flowers can cause issues for your dog. They are toxic. And can create vomiting, upset stomach and diarrhoea. Some can even cause issues with the heart, kidneys and liver if eaten.



Castor beans, cyclamens, azalea, milkwood and oleander are also toxic to your dog. As are poinsettia, begonia, aloe vera, carnation, baby’s breath and chrysanthemum.



If in doubt what you should put in your garden, ask one of our friendly Wahroonga vets and vet nurses.


Pesticides, fertilisers and poisons



Making the garden look great might come at a cost to your dog’s health if you are not careful. Pesticides and fertilisers can be bad for your family pet as well as you. It’s important to make sure you pick products that are not going to risk you and your dog.


Here’s what to consider:


  • Most fertilisers contain nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. It can be in concentrations strong enough to make your dog’s stomach and bowel upset and irritated. Some can also burn paws and skin on contact. If you are using fertiliser, try to avoid ones that contain these chemicals. Or at the very least, restrict access to the areas of fertilised lawn by your dog for at least 24 hours.


  • Organic fertilisers contain blood and bone. Blood and bone can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and pancreatitis if ingested. Bone meal can also lodge itself in the stomach and bowel. This can create a blockage and need surgery. The best course of action here is not to allow your dog access to these products


  • Herbicides can increase the risk of some cancers. “Any dogs exposed to herbicides containing 2, 4-D are twice as likely to develop lymphatic cancer”, it was found in the 1990s. Yet some products still remain freely available. Always check before making a purchase


  • Pesticides and insecticides can be harmful as well. Some are toxic if swallowed or if exposure occurs. Choose wisely


  • Snail pellets and rat baits should also be kept out of the way of curious mouths. Rat sak and similar products are designed to smell delicious to rodents. They also attract dogs. These poisons are designed to kill. And even if they don’t kill your family dog, they can make them ill and give them potentially lifelong issues if they eat them. Please, only ever use these kinds of baits on gardens where there is no chance your dog can access them


Dog safety in the garden doesn’t have to be hard



If in doubt, give Fox Valley Animal Hospital a shout and our friendly vet nurses will help you navigate what you can and can’t use in the garden.


Call our team of Wahroonga vets and vet nurses for advice now on (02) 9489 4805

About the Author
Owner and Vet Alex Brittan, Vet Katie Syms and the team of Fox Valley Animal Hospital pride themselves on quality service. Fox Valley Animal Hospital is the one you choose for your family pet when the care your animal receives really matters.