Gardens can be a tricky thing for pets. Some animals like to get into plants that might be dangerous for them and others will ruin plants that you may like. The list of toxic plants is almost too long. It may be safer to assume than an ornamental plant is toxic unless you read that it isn’t. The ASPCA has a searchable database listing of plants that can tell you if they are toxic to cats, dogs, or horses. Adult animals that aren’t bored silly will often stay away from poisonous plants, however. I had a row of azaleas and a bunch of pets and no one ever got sick.
The main problem with dogs and gardens is dogs will sniff out newly planted ornamentals and dig them up for fun. Consider a container garden if your dog digs up everything you put in the ground. Large solid containers made of clay or something else that is unpleasant to chew may just keep your plants safe. Plastic pots will probably be doomed. My last dog was actually very well mannered when it came to plants, but my neighbor’s dog was another story.
Some truly safe plants for animals include African violets, African daisies (not regular daisies, they’re toxic), and oat grass. Oat grass isn’t on the ASPCA database list, but I get it at my local pet store for my cat. She loves it. You can buy it full grown or grow it easily from seed.
One plant that animals may actively enjoy is something in the squash or pumpkin family that grows on a long vine. Cats love the vines and dogs can safely play with the fruit.
A Word on Catnip/Catmint
Yes, your cat may love catnip, but the ASPCA has it listed as toxic to cats. You know when you have a friend and you try to keep them from something that they love for their own good? Well, catnip is a kitty drug. It can cause lethargy, or it can act as a stimulant. It can cause vomiting and diarrhea as well. You know your cat. I won’t tell you what to do. Just keep in mind that as with people and drugs, some cats might not be able to handle even a moderate amount.
Growing a garden for a rabbit it much more fun. They have a whole list of veggies and herbs that they love. Just hold the onion and garlic, they don’t like it very much. Triangle Rabbits has a list of herbs and vegetables that rabbits like. I planted oregano, dill, kale, and basil for my bunny. The dandelion just came up on its own.
The key to a happy pet garden is that it won’t harm your pet and your pet won’t be tempted to harm anything you like. If you have a trustworthy adult pet, you can probably plant some poisonous ornamentals like morning glory in your yard with no problem. Puppies, kittens, and bored pets are the ones about which you need to worry. Bunnies shouldn’t have anything poisonous in their gardens, though. I hope this was helpful, happy gardening!