3 Vinegar-Based, Pet-Friendly Garden Maintenance Alternatives

Contribution from freelance writer Sally Writes


Photo by John Wilson on Unsplash

It’s important to have an outdoor space that everyone can enjoy, from you right down to Fido. Everyone loves to relax or play in a well-maintained yard or garden. However, there are many products that are regularly used for routine lawn and garden maintenance that are toxic to pets. 55, 516 pets are affected by toxic substances each year; the most common sources of poisoning are cosmetic and cleaning products. To prevent accidents and make sure that everyone enjoys the outdoors safely this fall, here are some cleaning alternatives that are healthy and safe for the environment and your pet.


Many people choose to spruce up their garden with a feature piece such as a fountain. It’s a great, easy way to add value and charm to an outdoor space. To keep up the value and allure, regular maintenance is a must. Many sources recommend cleaning fountains with a mild soap or dish detergent. While this may yield cleanliness as a result, it can be potentially harmful to the water table and your dog, if ingested. A better, more eco and pet safe method for cleaning your outdoor fountain, is to use one cup of white vinegar per one gallon distilled water. The vinegar will help break down mineral and algae deposits, while distilled water will help prevent minerals from building up in the first place. Additionally, your dog won’t come to any harm if he decided that the water looks drinkably good.


Birdbaths are another popular choice for adding some decorative flair to an outdoor space. It’s important to keep birdbaths free of harmful chemicals as not just your dog, but birds and other small critters like to make use of them. For basic maintenance, keeping the birdbath free of large debris such as leaves, and changing the water regularly is essential. For deep cleaning, bleach is often recommended. However, a non-toxic alternative is to combine vinegar and water at a 1 to 4 ratio and allow the basin to soak for at least 15 minutes before scrubbing with a non-abrasive sponge or cloth. To ensure that your dog and other backyard denizens don’t ingest the vinegar water during the soak time, cover the birdbath with a trash bag.


If you have a concrete patio, your dog likely spends a lot of time on it. Many dogs seem to think nothing is better than lying down for a sunbath on the warm concrete with their people nearby. Bleach is again, the most commonly recommended chemical for cleaning a concrete patio and keeping it stain-free. However, a mixture of vinegar and baking soda will also do the trick. There is no specific amount to use, just make sure the finished mixture has a paste-like consistency. In a bucket, start with some vinegar. Add baking soda slowly to the bucket as the two ingredients with react and bubble up. Once you have a mixture of the right consistency, spray water on the patio and then cot with the cleaning mixture. After letting it set for a few minutes, scrub with a nylon bristle brush and rinse clean with a hose or buckets of water. This will not only lift stains and keep the concrete patio looking like new, but it will also leave no harmful residue for your dog to get into.  

Proper maintenance is important for any outdoor space. You want to keep things so you have an enjoyable place for your family and pets to spend time together. Safety is an important part of being able to relax and enjoy your garden or yard. So the next time your water feature or patio starts looking a little dingy, instead of reaching for the bleach or other chemical cleaner, go for the vinegar instead. The environment and your dog, will thank you.