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Gardening is a favorite pastime among many Americans. Freshly grown fruits, vegetables, and herbs not only taste great, but can also save you money. Plus, there’s nothing quite like eating something you cultivated yourself. It’s even better when you get to share those hard-earned spoils with your dog. Here are some tips for planting a dog-friendly garden:

Choose Which Dog-Friendly Plants to Grow

Dr. Carol Osborne, integrative veterinarian at Chagrin Falls Pet Clinic in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, suggests the following edible plants to put in your garden — all of which are high in antioxidants and safe for dogs to consume:

  • Green beans: chopped, steamed, or raw, all types are okay for dogs to eat, as long as they’re not prepared with other ingredients, such as salt
  • Berries: cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries (all safe in small quantities)
  • Barley grasses — note, your dog should only eat these in small amounts.
Norwegian Lundehund puppy exploring in the garden.
©Marielle - stock.adobe.com

If you want to grow something that isn’t on this list, be sure to confirm the plant is non-toxic to dogs. Onions and the leaves of tomato plants, for example, are toxic to dogs and shouldn’t be grown in your backyard if you can’t be sure your dog won’t get access to them.

When it comes to herbs, Osborne says the ones listed below can be grown in your garden. Plus, you can add them to your dog’s meals, or mix them into treats in small quantities:

  • Dandelion greens — the stem-and-leaf parts of the plant — are a natural source of vitamins A, C, K, D, and B. Not everyone appreciates dandelions. Only offer ones from your own yard, so you know they haven’t had pesticides or herbicides applied to them. Dandelion greens are also often available for sale at farmers’ markets and natural food stores.
  • Rosemary acts as an iron-rich antioxidant
  • Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is often used as a breath freshener in dog dental treats. But, be careful. While curly-leafed parsley is OK, spring parsley can be toxic. Because parsley is a diuretic, you’ll want to give it to your dog only sparingly.
  • Basil (Ocimum basilicum) has antioxidant, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties.
  • Thyme’s active ingredient is thymol, which is said to be antifungal and antibacterial. Thyme also contains flavonoids, which act as antioxidants.
Spanish Water Dog standing up on the garden wall.
©PepeGarcia - stock.adobe.com

Creating a Dog-Proof Garden Space

Even if you’re planting edible plants that are safe for your dog, it’s important to keep your dog away. The most important step is to put a fence around your garden to keep them out. You don’t want them thinking it’s a self-service salad bar. You could run the risk of your dog overeating. Also, there are some parts of plants that shouldn’t be eaten.

If you don’t have space to put a garden in the ground with a fence around it, consider using hanging pots or containers placed where your dog can’t reach them.

You also need to think about the type of fertilizer you’re using. Whether you’re applying a spray-on or pelleted product, check that the active ingredients are non-toxic. Remember to follow the instructions on the label carefully. The same thing goes for mulch. Even if your dog doesn’t have unsupervised access to your garden, they could accidentally ingest harmful substances if they sneak past your fence. If you have questions about a specific fertilizer or mulch, talk to your veterinarian before using it.

Plant, Grow, Enjoy!

Now, you’re ready to start planting. Before you add any of these edible plants to your dog’s diet, speak with your veterinarian. Nutritional needs differ from dog to dog, and you’ll want to make sure your dog is eating a well-balanced diet.

Related article: 7 Nontoxic Houseplants for Dog Owners
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