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It’s hard to match our level of excitement for summer, but there’s somebody who always does!
Dogs love to sprint across green lawns — with tails wagging and eyes set on a prize. Cats are known to bask in the summer sun all day long, too. Our furry friends love lounging on the lawn just as much as we do — which is why pet proofing the great outdoors is so important.
Pet proofing everything from patios and porches to lawns and gardens keeps pets safe and your yard damage-free. And, with summer in full swing, the timing couldn’t be better.
First thing’s first: the lawn. Pets run through the lawn, roll in it and often eat it. As you well know, any trouble pets can get into, they do.
But, many lawn products contain harmful chemicals. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates some 90 million pounds of pesticides are applied to lawns each year. These chemicals are not safe to use around pets, children or anyone for that matter. Pets ingest those dangerous herbicides when they lick their coats and paws while cleaning. This can make them sick.
The ASPCA pet-safe gardening fact sheet explains that most exposure to harmful chemicals occurred because products were within reach of pets, or pets were allowed onto lawns before treatments were completely dry.
According to the National Canine Cancer Foundation (NCCF), one in three dogs will experience cancer during their lifetime. Cancer is not as common in cats, but tends to be more aggressive.
Let’s reduce that statistic — together.
Keep pets safe this season by using only organic lawn and garden products. Feeding a lawn a healthy diet of natural ingredients offers benefits not just for your grass, but for you, your family, pets and the environment, too.
The Safe Paws campaign from The Espoma Organic Company and the ASPCA both offer tips for keeping pets safe from hidden dangers as well as long-term exposure to toxins that might cause cancer.
Here are 7 tips for pet proofing your yard that can be done today:
- Out of Paws Reach. Store hazardous products such as insecticides, paint, car parts and gasoline in sealed containers on upper shelves.
- A close cut. Since fleas and ticks lurk in tall grasses, keep your lawns mowed at 3 – 3.5”.
- Begin with the Bin. Food and garden waste make excellent additions to garden soil. But you should compost in closed containers or keep pets out of the compost pile. According to the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center, coffee grounds, moldy food and certain types of fruit and vegetables are toxic to dogs and cats.
- Go Bare. Using an organic lawn food, as well as organic mulch will eliminate the hazards that chemical fertilizers, pesticides and synthetic mulches present. At first, it may require some new thinking and some investments in soil improvement. But then you won’t have to worry about exposing kids or pets to dangerous chemicals.
- Use your Eyes. Look around the patio and yard. Standing water, exposed wires, unattended garden tools or objects in the ground may cause a hazard. Remove standing water by replacing it with a rain garden or drainage system.
- Paw-Approved Plants. We’ve found that pets love munching on new things in the yard, especially plants and grasses. Before buying new plants, check if they’re nontoxic. See the ASPCA’s toxic plant database.
- The Great Escape. Fence pets out of risky areas and ensure there are no gaps that your pet could escape through.
The safest, most effective way to reduce canine cancer and help pets live long, healthy lives is to avoid harmful chemicals altogether. Get the full scoop on how our Safe Paws initiative works to keep pets healthy.
Jamie Brunner, part of the fourth generation to join The Espoma Company, is an animal lover, dog owner and equestrian. To help keep pets safe in lawns and gardens, Espoma launched the Safe Paws initiative in the Spring of 2015. A family-owned business, Espoma has been the pioneer in organic gardening since 1929, developing products that work in harmony with nature, preserve natural resources and make a greener world for future generations. Espoma offers a complete selection of natural plant foods, lawn foods, control products, and potting mixes available nationwide. For additional information, visit www.espoma.com.
I have been considering getting a puppy. So, I liked that you pointed out that there are several types of plants that aren't great for pets to eat. I should probably puppy proof my yard before getting him. I should also check to see what the law regarding dogs is for my city.