It will be easier to keep your dog out of the proverbial dog house if you do what it takes to make your yard pet-friendly.
Here are a few pet-wise accommodations to give your pet a safer place outdoors.
Dogs don't walk around puddles and sporting breeds instinctively dig when they see water. So if puddles are your problem, fill in low areas that collect water. If poor drainage is the cause, address the bigger issue. Quick and simple fixes are to place rocks, gravel or bricks in depressions to keep paws out of the mud.
Dogs often have a favorite path across the yard that stamps out the lawn or the ground cover in beds. It's unlikely you'll get your dog to change its route, so place pave stones where he walks across the lawn or in the flower bed. This deals with the unsightliness, helps with mud and lets your pet to stay on its critical path.
Female dogs in particular like to dig nests in the cool spaces next to foundations. In wet weather, these holes fill with water, make muddy paws and can lead to foundation problems. If there are no shade trees, make sure the dog has access to the patio or the north and east sides of the house. A dog will duck into the shade of the trampoline or other structures if you make the area accessible.
We love time out on the deck, but it's not a safe place for dogs. Wood decks often have splinters if not sanded regularly. Dark woods absorb heat and can create conditions leading to heat stroke. If you're building a deck, look at the lighter recycled products that are cooler and splinter free. They are also less maintenance for you and sustainable. Unless your deck is well shaded, put the dog under it rather than on it.
If you have a compost pile, be aware that the smell of an open compost pile will attract animals - your pet included! If they eat decaying compost, it can make them sick. Protect your pet with an enclosed tumbler.
Many dogs will eat grass and other plants, so it's good to know which plants are toxic or might be harmful otherwise.
• Wild mushrooms often grow in the early summer in moist places in the lawn, on tree trunks and on firewood. Don't rake or mow them as that spreads spores to grow more 'shrooms. Wear a glove or a baggie, pick them and put them in the trash. No, they are NOT for the compost bin.
• Weeds - Since some weeds like purslane are toxic to pets, there's another good reason to keep your yard weed free.
• Foxglove digitalis - can cause heart failure.
• Lilies - cause GI upset and day lilies can cause renal failure in cats.
• Bulbs - most spring-blooming bulbs like tulips and daffodils are toxic if the dog digs them and chews them up. It's the same for the rhizomes of iris plants.
• Tall ornamental grasses - if dogs ingest these plants, the sharp grass blades can cut their stomachs and create serious medical issues.
• Toxic fruits and veggies include: plants in the onion family, rhubarb, chamomile, grapes (including raisins) and the seeds of stone fruits.
If you have specific questions about toxic plants that might be in your yard, consult your vet.
Courtesy Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company based in Silverthorne that is a member. You may contact them at (970) 468-0340.