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Westie tests Dogs Trust's dog-friendly garden at Hampton Court Flower Show 2016

Turn your garden into a doggie safe haven

As the RHS Flower Show at Tatton Park gets underway this week, rehoming charity Dogs Trust is advising dog owners on the perilous plants in their gardens and how to make their outdoor spaces a safe haven for dogs.

Garden enthusiasts may not be aware that some of their prized plants pose a danger to their precious pets. Plants to avoid include azaleas, foxgloves, lily of the valley, mistletoe, rhododendrons and buttercups as well as daffodils, which can be fatal within hours if dogs eat them, especially bulbs.

Plants aren't the only danger. Leaving slug pellets containing toxic metaldehyde can also put your pets at risk.

Dogs Trust Manchester Rehoming Centre Manager, Dawn Bishop, says, "We all know dogs love getting involved in all aspects of family life, especially gardening, but they often eat things they shouldn’t, so it is important for owners to be aware that some of the UK’s most popular plants are in fact harmful to dogs. A secure safe garden is a great place to play with your dog and do training with them, so the more interesting a garden can be, the better."

Tips to make a dog-friendly garden:

  • Choose non-toxic plants in your garden. Visit dogstrust.org.uk for a list of toxic plants to avoid.
  • Be careful when using chemicals such as pesticides, fertilisers and slug pellets
  • If you are worried your dog may have eaten something harmful, seek veterinary advice straight away  

How to make your garden a fun place for you and your dog:

  • Create a quiet retreat or spot where your pooch can shelter and use at their leisure.
  • A variety of textures in your garden can provide extra sensory stimulation – this could be non-toxic sand, grass, wood chippings or gravel, all of which provide interesting places to hide dog toys and treats and for your dog to explore.
  • If your dog loves to dig to uncover things, create a fun area for your dog to show off their digging prowess and praise them for using this spot.
  • Features that offer different heights can give dogs vantage points to enjoy –railways sleepers, steps and small benches.
  • Shallow water features make for another playful environment whilst also providing a cooling off spot on hot summer days. 
  • Have fun – exercise, train and play with your dog in your garden

Dawn adds, "Dogs learn quickest when there are few distractions so your garden is a great place to teach them new things and, for example, practice recall. If, however, any dog owner thinks their pet has eaten something potentially toxic they should seek advice from their vet as soon as they can and take a sample of the plant with them to the vets if possible."