Tips for a pet friendly garden

Pet Care Posted Jun 14, 2023
Dogs and cats love to sniff and roll in the grass, and your private garden is the very best place for these activities.

Tips for a Pet Friendly Garden

Australia has one of the highest pet ownership rates in the world, with over two thirds of households having at least one pet. This is great news for our mental health, since study after study has shown that pets can help us battle stress, enjoy a more mindful existence, and even reduce the risks asthma in children. However, are we doing enough to protect our pets’ health? Some of the biggest health risks are actually a lot closer than we might think; to be precise, many are located in our very own backyard.

Outdoor time

Experts recommend that dogs be given at least one long walk a day, but cats can also benefit from supervised outdoor time to receive an adequate intake of Vitamin D. Dogs and cats love to sniff and roll in the grass, and your private garden is the very best place for these activities. For your cat’s own safety and our wildlife too, invest in an outdoor cat enclosure or even try walking them on a harness! If your pet has light pigmented skin (dog or cat) pet sunscreen will help protect them from skin cancer when they’re enjoying the sunshine.

Beware of toxic plants

Many common garden plants are toxic to dogs and cats, even if ingested in small amounts! These include azaleas, lilies, cycads, castor oil plants, daphne, oleander and yesterday-today-tomorrows. It is vital to obtain a complete list of plants which could be harmful to your pets. If possible, a professional gardener or landscaper should pay a visit to identify any plants you may have confused for safer varieties.

Check out some of the following plant identification referals:


Yesterday Today Tomorrow


Castor Oil Plant




Go easy on chemicals

Be careful with mulch. Although not generally available in Australia, Cocoa mulch (also known as Cocoa Bean or Shell Mulch) is poisonous to pets.

Fertilisers are another cause for concern. Read the packaging carefully and follow instructions to the letter. Most brands stipulate that you will need to keep pets away from your lawn for at least 24 hours after use, so you will have to be extra vigilant to ensure your dog or cat does not escape. They can be very quick to ingest toxic substances and the result can be everything from seizures to pancreatitis, gastrointestinal ulcers, etc.

Snail bait poisoning, is a relatively common poisoning seen in pets.  Safe, natural products can replace many pesticides and toxic slug repellents. Citric essential oils diluted in water, and neem juice diluted in water, for instance, can be sprayed onto leaves as natural bug repellents.

Rat or mouse baits can also be a common cause for pet poisoning. There are other more humane pest control methods listed here.

If at any point you think your pet has been poisoned, contact your vet immediately.

Keep pets crated or secure while mowing the lawn

Your pets usually like being around you as much as they can, not to mention outside, on a soft grassy area, which is why regular lawn mowing is key. For safety purposes, it is best to keep pets indoors when operating machinery. A good idea is to crate your pooch away from the action when mowing or keep them indoors while you work. Here are some crate training tips for dogs and puppies from RSPCA School for Pets.

Reduce the danger of escape

Dogs are easily as curious as cats, so you may find Fido wants to have a stroll down the street. The best way to avoid this situation in the first place is by creating a safe backyard with secure, high fencing. If you find your pooch prefers to dig rather than jump the fence, read more helpful tips here on digging.

You have probably noticed that keeping pets safe in the garden necessitates a multifaceted approach. Take a long, hard look at your garden and identify any risks to their safety: sharp tools laying around, a fenceless pool, dubious plants and bottles of chemicals. Take every step you can to ensure your dog leads a long, happy, pain-free life, so they can make the most of the sunny Queensland weather and the great outdoors.

Sally Perkins
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