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By BECCA OWSLEY email@example.com HARDIN COUNTY — Pet owners often forget about their four-legged friends when they are designing their backyard, but some choices are pivotal in making sure the yard is a safe and fun environment for the family pet. With spring around the corner, here are some things you might want to consider when landscaping the yard if you have pets. Pets that are in the backyard for the majority of the time need to have a place in the shade that is at least 10 to 15 degrees cooler than it would be in the hot sun, Dr. Will Flanagan of Heartland Veterinary Hospital said. He also stressed the importance of making sure pets that are outdoors have water at all times. “You probably want to make sure the beautification and decorative plants are out of the way,” Flanagan said. “Not all of them are toxic, but a good many of them are.” Although it's not an exhaustive list, several plants pet owners should avoid when landscaping are listed on the Web site www.lowesforpros.com:
The ASPCA Web site is another source of finding out what plants are safe for pets. Acorns can be toxic in high doses, but more often there are situations where acorns, especially in smaller breed dogs, can cause blockages in the intestinal track, Flanagan said. In the fall, Flanagan cautions pet owners to be careful with leaves. Some, especially cherry trees, can become toxic as they wilt. Like acorns, dogs also can gorge themselves on leaves. The Lowe’s Web site reminds pet owners to be careful with the types of baits and insecticides used to make sure they are not harming pets. For water-loving dogs like Labs, water features can add a lot to a pet-friendly yard. “They’re going to jump in whatever they’re going to jump in, the question is what do we have for them,” Flanagan said. He has seen many pet owners purchase plastic kid’s pools for their pets that love water, and some dogs enjoy running through sprinklers. Flanagan does offer a caution to pet owners with swimming pools. It is OK for dogs to swim in pools, but never allow them to swim unsupervised because once they get in they often can’t get out, Flanagan said. He has seen several drowning incidents from those types of situations. Depending on the breed, Flanagan said it is important to get dogs outside, especially large breeds, to get some exercise. Smaller dogs, even though being outdoors is good for them as well, can get the same kind of exercise inside without causing the damage that a larger dog would running around the house, Flanagan said. Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741.