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Will Mothballs Keep Dogs Out of Flower Beds?


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If you’re looking for a way to keep your dog away from your flowers, you may be asking: Will mothballs keep dogs out of flower beds? Dog Ownership Guide did the research so you wouldn’t have to do it. Find out the answer below.

Will Mothballs Keep Dogs Out of Flower Beds?

Yes, mothballs will keep dogs out of flower beds, but you shouldn’t use them because they are toxic to animals and the environment.

keeping dogs out of flower beds

Why You Shouldn’t Use Mothballs to Keep Dogs Out of Flower Beds

There are many reasons NOT to use old mothballs to keep dogs out of flower beds. Below are the most important ones to help you understand why it’s not a good idea to use them.

Causes Significant Environment Problems

Mothballs contain naphthalene and paradichlorobenzene. These chemicals are highly toxic and will seep into the soil and groundwater. They will harm some plants, which defeats the purpose of using mothballs to keep your dog out of the flower beds.

Dangerous to Children

Children may believe mothballs on soil are little balls. They may play with them or put them in their mouths, which will make them sick.

Makes Dogs Sick

Mothballs have a high level of insect repellent in them. Not all dogs will stay away from them, some will eat them, which can be dangerous. Stray dogs and cats are especially in danger since no one is watching them. Even long-term exposure to mothball fumes can harm animals.

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Signs of Mothball Poisoning in Dogs

The signs of mothball poisoning may not appear for several days. Signs to look for in your dog include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Mothball-Scented Breath
  • Change in the Color of Gums
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Labored Breathing
  • Walking Off Balance
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

Severe consequences of mothball poisoning are liver and kidney damage, exhibited by:

  • Vomiting
  • Lack of Appetite
  • Change in Drinking Amount
  • Change in Urination
  • Bad Breath
  • Increased Risk of Bleeding

What to Do When a Dog Ingests a Mothball

Do not wait for the signs of mothball poisoning in your dog. Contact your veterinarian immediately or call the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680. Early treatment increases the chances of a full recovery.

Never induce vomiting without the instruction of your veterinarian. If possible, place mothballs in a bag and bring them to the vet for identification.

Do not induce vomiting or give anything orally to your dog unless your veterinarian specifically directs you to do so. When possible, put the mothball package and remaining loose mothballs into a sealed plastic bag and take them with you to the veterinary clinic for identification.

mothball poisoning for dogs

Mothball Poisoning Treatment for Dogs

The veterinarian will likely induce vomiting to get rid of the mothball from the stomach as soon as possible. The vet may also administer activated charcoal to decrease the absorption of chemicals in the gastrointestinal tract.

DO NOT give your dog activated charcoal yourself, as it may alter sodium levels significantly leading to aspiration in the lungs, which is life-threatening.

You can expect the veterinarian to do the following:

  • Perform blood work to check for anemia or damage to the liver or kidneys.
  • Start intravenous fluids.
  • Administer various medications for vomiting, seizures, and liver protection.
  • Take x-rays to show if there are any mothballs in the stomach or intestines.
  • In severe cases, a blood transfusion may be necessary.

This is a good time to plug dog insurance. This is a case in which dog insurance would be a financial life preserver. Poisoning is considered an accident and any vet bills associated with treatment could be paid for by the dog insurance company once the deductible has been met. Learn more about dog insurance here: How Does Dog Insurance Work?

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Other Toxic Ways to Keep Dogs Out of Flower Beds

Many people hear that marigolds are good to plant to keep dogs out of flower beds. DO NOT plant marigolds. They are also toxic to dogs. While not as toxic as mothballs, they can still make them sick.

Citronella is also recommended by some, and it is another no-no when it comes to being toxic to pets.

Alternatives to Mothballs to Keep Dogs Out of Flower Beds

Instead of using mothballs or planting marigolds to keep dogs out of flower beds, you can use any of the following.

Commercial Dog Repellent

There are many dog repellents specially made for flowers available in the market. They are effective and safe for flowers, the environment, kids, and animals.

commercial dog repellent

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Semi-Rotten Potatoes

Semi-Rotten Potatoes give off a smell that dogs hate. Put potatoes in your flower beds when they are past the time you can eat them, and you’ll find that this natural way to keep your dog away works.

Orange Peels

Orange peels are great for keeping dogs away. Just be sure you are using only the peels, or you’ll be calling all of the ants in your yard to the flower beds.

Peppermint Leaves

Peppermint leaves may smell great to us, but dogs and cats hate the smell. Grow peppermint or put leaves in your flowerbeds to keep dogs and cats away.

Lemon Juice

Another great homemade dog deterrent is lemon juice. Mix lemon juice with water and spray around the flower beds. The bonus is that it can prevent weeds and other backyard pests like Mexican bean beetles.

Coffee Grounds

One of the best homemade dog repellents is coffee grounds. Sprinkle them in the flower beds and not only will your pets stay away, but it’s a great fertilizer.

Low Acidity Vinegar

One of the best homemade dog repellents is vinegar. Spray low acidity pungent white vinegar on your flowers, especially when they are just starting to grow. It will protect them at their most vulnerable time.

Bonus Tip: Use horticultural-grade vinegar (20% acetic acid) instead to prevent weeds while you keep away backyard pets.

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horicultural vinegar

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Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar mixed with water can also be a good homemade deterrent.

Automatic Sprinkler

This is a great option because it waters your plants AND keeps your dogs and stray dogs away. As soon as an animal steps up to the garden, the sprinkler detects it and sprays. Just be sure to turn it off when you head out to admire your garden, or you’ll get sprayed too.

motion activated sprinkler

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Ultrasonic Animal Repellent

This ultrasonic dog repellent uses advanced ultrasonic technology to generate powerful ultrasonic waves under strong flickering lights. With a built-in high-sensitivity PIR motion detection sensor, the ultrasonic repellent will detect dogs and other animals through infrared sensors and activate the ultrasonic system to trigger at an angle of 110° and a distance range of 25-30 feet for optimal performance.

ultrasonic animal repeller

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Animal Urine

A gardener’s special trick is to sprinkle animal urine where they want to keep dogs out. Bear urine is the best option, but people have used skunk, fox, wolf, and coyote urine.

Just be sure to watch what happens because some dogs are attracted to the urine.

coyote urine

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Red Pepper Flakes or Cayenne Pepper

Red pepper flakes and cayenne pepper can be other deterrents. Sprinkle some in your flower beds to repel dogs. You can also make a pepper spray by infusing water with the peppers in a water squirt bottle.

Essential Oils

While citronella isn’t good for dogs, citronella oil is okay. Mustard oil, citrus fruit oils, and eucalyptus are other great ones to use.

Chicken Wire / Invisible Fence

Consider using chicken wire around your flower beds for small dogs. You just need some short stakes to hold it up and it should be good enough to keep small dogs out of your flower beds.

An invisible fence may be better for larger dogs. Unfortunately, it won’t keep stray dogs or your neighbor’s dogs out, though.

petsafe invisible dog fence

PetSafe Invisible Dog Fence

Keeping Dogs Out of Your Flower Beds

We love our dogs, even the neighbor’s dogs until they ruin something we work hard on, such as a flower bed, landscaping, or garden. When you’re trying to keep either your dog or your neighbor’s dog out of beds, stay away from anything toxic such as mothballs, citronella, and marigolds. Stick with safe options such as commercial dog repellent, vinegar, old potatoes, orange peels, and one of the other many options above.

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