Spring Gardens That Are Safe For Dogs: Plants to Avoid For Pet Safety  

507272111 (1)Spring is just around the corner. Many families are starting to daydream of warm days outside in their backyards and new flowers and plants they will use to make their springtime gardens bloom. Of course, a backyard and garden of your home can be a little slice of heaven for your doggies and other pets.

From trees to flowers, swimming pools to grassy landscapes, your backyard is full of the promise of sunny day fun. Of course, for your dogs this can also mean—holes to burrow, flowers to eat, plants to dig up, and bugs to chase. While that is always the worst-case scenario, it is best to be prepared with a safe and pet-friendly backyard…just in case Fido gets into the flowerbeds.

Here are some plants and flowers to avoid using in your backyard, as well as some other tips to make your home and garden healthy for your pets.

Plants to Avoid in a Pet Safe Garden

Cocoa Mulch

This natural mulch made of cocoa bean shells, is a by-product of the process of producing chocolate. It is very common mulch used in landscaping and can be a good nutrient rich additive for plants. However, if you have a home with dogs or cats, it is best to use alternative mulch for your landscaping. If eaten in large quantities, cocoa mulch (and chocolate in general) can be toxic to pets.


These low growing palm trees, which are used indoors and outdoors, can be toxic to the liver of your dogs. Dogs, especially puppies, have a habit of chewing on the soft roots of these palms so avoid planting them anywhere in your garden or backyard.


This houseplant is a known toxin to both humans and animals, and is considered one of the most poisonous common garden plants there is. Avoid Oleander altogether, especially in a home with pets and children. Oleander contains the toxins oleandrin and nerioside, which are very similar to the toxins in foxglove (which you should also avoid). These chemicals are so toxic that just one pound of oleander is lethal to a large horse.


Black cherry contains cyanogenic predecessors that release cyanide whenever its leaves are damaged by frost, trampling, drought, wilting, or by being blown down during wind and storms. Most dogs can consume small amounts of healthy leaves, bark and fruit safely. But, if a hungry dog consumes large amounts of fresh leaves or small amounts of damaged leaves (as little as 2oz), poisoning will occur and it may be lethal. If you are a big fan of a cherry tree, make sure it is planted in an area your precious pups will never go near.

Additional Tips for Garden Safety

Watch Those Mushrooms

Spring is one of the biggest mushroom seasons of the year. While 99% of mushrooms have little or no toxicity, the other 1% are highly toxic and can cause life-threatening problems in dogs.  This may seem like a small percentage but keep in mind safe mushrooms can be difficult to distinguish from toxic mushrooms by looks alone. Keeping an eye on mushroom growth and clearly them away quickly is a good way to play it safe for your pets.

Plant Organic and Use Natural Gardening Aids

Not all garden products are harmful to animals but it is best to err on the side of caution and only use organic or nontoxic garden products and gardening aids. Take a careful look at what you are using on your lawn and flower gardens and avoid any chemical herbicides and pesticides. These can be toxic to your pups if they accidently ingest some while playing in the backyard.

A beautiful garden is something we all look forward to in the spring. Just remember, it is possible to have a beautiful oasis in your backyard and still keep pet health at the top of mind. Make sure to have some healthy dog treats on hand for your precious pups to chew on instead of those flowers and stay tuned for more tips for pet-friendly gardens this season.


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