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30.6 million Americans plant flowers in their backyards to attract wildlife, and 57 million households feed the birds. Even in busy urban areas like New York, there are thousands of animal and bird species you can bring to your garden. When you have a dog it is important however, that you consider your canine companion before you sow new seeds or put out food to attract wildlife into your outdoor space. Firstly, you wouldn’t want your dog consuming excess food or eating anything that is toxic. You also don’t want to attract animals that could potentially harm your dog, like racoons. With the right planting however, you can still attract wildlife into your backyard and keep it safe for your dog.

Feeding the birds

Putting out some seed, peanuts and mealworms is one of the best ways of attracting birds into your backyard. Spread out the feeders in your yard and give them a good selection of food – different types of seed will attract different types of bird. Even though your dog might disagree, bird food is just for the birds, so it is important that you keep bird feeders up high and out of reach of your dog. Suet and fat balls in particular should be kept in a wire mesh feeder, or they can easily become a very calorific treat for your dog. If your bird feeders contain seed that has been there for a while, you should throw this away and thoroughly clean your bird feeders. Old seeds that have become damp will become moldy – mold contains mycotoxins which can be fatal to your dog if consumed.

Insects and minibeasts

There has been a 50% increase in people planting wildflowers to attract insects into their garden. This is also important for bees and other pollinators. When you are planting your garden however, you should consider that not all flowers are safe for your dog. Many of the plants that grow from bulbs, including daffodils, narcissus, lilies and crocuses are very toxic for dogs. You should also avoid planting anything from the allium family – this is the same family as garlic which is poisonous. There are many flowers however that cause no problems for dogs, including sunflowers, snap dragons, calendula, aster and roses.

Attracting mammals

There is a fine balance between attracting the small mammals that you would like to see in your backyard and the ones you don’t. If you leave out food for hedgehogs, you may well find yourself bringing in animals that you don’t want too, such as rats and raccoons. Grey and Black Squirrels are two of the more common species that people like to see in their backyards, and like birds, they enjoy eating nuts. Make sure that you put these in a specific squirrel feeder away from your dog.

It is a great joy bringing birds and wildlife into your backyard. Just make sure that the flowers that you plant and the food you leave out is safe for doggies too.

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