Dog and cat laid together

Whether you have a garage, garden store or shed, these spaces are utilised like extra storage rooms, using them to keep things that we’re unable to fit into the home or simply items that we need only occasionally throughout the year.

Unfortunately, many of the things we use to keep our homes and gardens looking lovely can be highly dangerous to our pets who, as we know, lose no opportunity in exploring all those places and sampling all those things that they shouldn’t. And, just like young children, they often delight in eating things we’d much rather they didn’t, with often dire consequences.

Listed below are just some of the things we’d recommend you be cautious about when leaving them around your home.



This stuff is vital to keep our vehicles running smoothly and efficiently through the colder months. Because it is relatively cheap to buy and adding it to the vehicle is a simple process many people will buy a large container of it but use only the necessary amount. The remainder is then stored away in the garage and perhaps forgotten about. 

Unfortunately, Ethylene Glycol, to give it its proper name, is extremely attractive to cats who love its sweet taste. Even a tiny teaspoonful of antifreeze can prove fatal to cats because it can cause severe kidney damage. It is also highly toxic to dogs. 

Any of the oils and fluids we need for vehicles or garden tools can be toxic so it’s always best to store them in a locked cabinet or storage box. Ethylene Glycol poisoning acts very quickly and the signs to watch out for include:

  • The appearance of being drunk
  • Vomiting 
  • Panting 
  • Excessive thirst 
  • Excessive urination 
  • Bad breath 
  • Lethargy 
  • Sedation or loss of consciousness 

If you suspect that your pet has ingested antifreeze, or just licked it, get them to the vet immediately for the best chance of recovery.




Commonly used for DIY projects around the home and garden, any leftover cement should be disposed of straight away. Cement powder when mixed with water becomes alkaline and causes caustic burns to the skin. 

This type of burn is often painless and therefore easy to dismiss but over time the burn progresses ever deeper into the skin and can cause serious ulceration. Cement dust can also cause damage to the eyes. Wash off any cement powder you spot on your pet and take him to the vet to be checked over.


Cleaning products


The garden shed is a haven for all kinds of cleaning products from giant packs of wash powder to outdoor and patio cleaners. Any of these can be harmful when in contact with an animal’s skin or fur. Cats in particular are in danger because of their propensity to groom themselves. You may notice any pet licking, grooming or scratching themselves excessively after coming into contact with cleaning fluids. Other signs could include drooling, laboured breathing, swollen and sore paws and/or ulceration of the mouth and tongue. If you suspect they’ve ingested cleaning fluids, visit the vet as soon as possible.




Fertilisers are essential for beautiful blooms and bountiful fruits but must be kept well away from pets. Dogs are particularly attracted to organic fertilisers like blood, fish and bone or chicken manure pellets and delight in digging up and eating as much of these as they can. This can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration and sometimes irritation in the mouth. If possible, rinse out his mouth with water and phone your vet for advice. Have the name of the fertiliser ready. If you spot your cat digging in a fertilised area be vigilant for the above symptoms.


Slug pellets


These contain either Metaldehyde or Methiocarb and both are designed to attract and kill slugs and snails. The downside is that they are also toxic to other creatures including our pets. The ingestion of even small amounts can cause convulsions and death in extreme cases. Birds and hedgehogs can also suffer if they eat a slug or snail that has ingested slug bait. Try using less toxic slug repellents like egg shells or beer traps. Make sure you place these where your pet can’t access them.


Bulbs and plants


When planting spring bulbs be sure to plant them deep enough and don’t let your pet get to them. Daffodil bulbs are particularly toxic to dogs and if ingested can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and excessive salivation. Phone your vet for advice on whether treatment is required or not. The list of garden plants that can be toxic for pets is extensive and includes Foxgloves, Aconitum, Laburnum, Yew, Lupins and Hyacinth among many others. Day Lilies are very toxic for cats in particular. If you think your pet has munched on anything in the garden be vigilant for signs of discomfort and phone your vet for advice.




Whether on the Christmas tree or hidden outdoors for an Easter egg hunt, chocolate – and lots of it - is as attractive to dogs as it is to us. Unfortunately chocolate contains a chemical called Theobromine which is similar to caffeine and is present in larger quantities in dark chocolate than milk chocolate. Ingesting a large amount can initially cause diarrhoea, jitteriness and eventually heart arrhythmia. Over time this could result in heart failure. White chocolate contains no Theobromine but the fat and sugar levels can have a quite malodorous effect!


Be wary of ‘home remedies’


If you think your pet has covered themselves in substances that they shouldn’t have, like oils, tar or paint for instance, never be tempted to use anything like white spirit or other strong chemicals to clean him. This could mean that you inflict further damage and that your vet may be unable to discern the extent of the problem. Some sticky substances like oil can be removed by using vegetable oil or butter prior to washing off with water. If your pet is retching, vomiting or coughing never be tempted to use anything to make them sick unless on the advice of a vet.


Finally, the best surefire way to keep your pets safe in the garden is to keep all chemicals and fluids safely locked away.