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Gardens aren't always safe for pets

It can come as a shock to learn that some of the lovely plants in our garden can actually poison our pets, or local cats and dogs which come to visit. What is worse is that it seems some of the most popular plants such as clematis, geraniums and even tomato plants can cause real harm to our pets.

Favourite TV gardener Charlie Dimmock has just opened a new temporary garden in south London which highlights this risk to our pets.

Poisonous Pawtanical Gardens has been designed by Chelsea flower show gold medal winner Ian Drummond and is a fabulous display of colour and texture. However, it has been created around 34 highly poisonous plants which can be a death trap to cats and dogs. They can cause a range of problems from drooling and tummy problems in pets to serious and sometimes fatal damage to the animals’ nervous systems, kidneys and livers.

According to insurance group MORE TH>N, who have put together the garden, 8% of dogs and cats in the UK have eaten poisonous plants of flowers. Of these, nearly half needed urgent veterinary care and 15% actually died.

They say 78% of British gardens contain plants that are toxic to cats and dogs and interestingly gardens in London and the South East top the list as the most dangerous for pets, followed by gardens in Wales.

The big problem is that the poisonous plants are really common. Species such as begonia, buxus, chrysanthemum, clematis, cordyline, daisy, dahlia, elderberry, digitalis foxglove, grape plant, hydrangea, hedera ivy, lillies (variety), prunus rotundifolia laurel, marigold, nerium oleander, paeonia mix, papaver poppy, tomato plants and wisterias are all on the danger list for pets.

Advice is not to remove all these beautiful plants from the garden; but if you see an animal chomping on the leaves, stop them immediately.

The big problem is that so many gardeners and also pet owners have no idea how poisonous some of these common plants can be.

In addition to launching the garden, which will tour around London at different locations, and also in addition to raising general awareness of this issue, MORE TH>N is also directly campaigning for plant producers, manufacturers of garden products and retailers to provide clearer labelling signalling if their items are safe or harmful to cats and dogs – something, it seems, that 86% of cat and dog owners would like to see. Their managing director Phil Wilson-Brown says he is hoping the Pawtanical Garden and the overall campaign will help raise awareness of the dangers of plants which are poisonous to cats and dogs in an imaginative and memorable way.

"However, our campaign is also about taking direct and immediate action - by both urging suppliers and retailers of garden plants and flowers to provide clear ‘pet safe’ labelling, while also better educating pet owners on the issue,” he said.

"Through this campaign we’ll be arming pet owners with the practical advice and information they need to identify safe and dangerous plants, to recognise the symptoms of poisoning – and what to do in that eventuality – and above all to reduce the likelihood of their beloved pets becoming ill in the first place.”

Charlie Dimmock says that the garden isn’t about telling pet owners to go around uprooting their flower beds.

“It’s a way to help them make more informed choices when they design their gardens or buy new plants for their home as well as being more aware of the garden plants they already have,” she said.

“There are many plants and flowers that aren’t toxic to pets. But with this advice we can hopefully reduce the number of pets that are accidently poisoned while keeping Britain’s gardens colourful and interesting.”

The garden is only temporary, but it does raise the issue for everyone across the UK. More information is available on the subject at:

Green Living: Plants poisonous to pets

No Longer Wild: Poisonous plants for dogs

Kennel Club: Plants poisonous to dogs

 

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