kittenMany people take pride in maintaining a well-manicured lawn. However, many lawn enthusiasts also partake in the use of a variety of chemicals to achieve that green, lush carpet. Some of these chemicals are harmful and even fatal to our pets, though. Pets are at a high risk for being poisoned by lawn chemicals, as they often walk through treated areas and, inturn, ingest the poisons when grooming themselves.

When it comes to pets and lawn chemicals, it is probably safest to take a conservative approach. Choose a natural option if possible, and if you do need to use synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, or pesticides, be sure to follow label instructions and do not allow your pet access to the area until the product has dried or as otherwise directed. Alternatively, treat the front and back lawns about a week apart.

Pets and Lawn Chemicals: What to Avoid

Educate yourself before using lawn and garden products this summer. Just because a product has been approved by the EPA does not mean that it is safe for pets. There is so much we don’t understand about pets and lawn chemicals… However we do know that some are toxic.

  • Disulfoton pesticides are very toxic to pets and, unfortunately, can be tempting for pets to eat. Ingestion can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and even death. Most commonly this product is found in rose care products.

  • Metaldehyde slug and snail baits are another deadly product used in the yard. Tremors, seizures, and death can result.

  • Herbicides are not usually fatal, but they can cause digestive upset and other serious problems. When using them, keep pets indoors and put away from anything that might end up in their mouth. Do not allow pets in the area until it is dry or as otherwise directed.

Unfortunately not much research has been done in the way of long-term effects of lawn and garden chemicals. Lawn care products are not tested for chronic health effects unless they are licensed for food use. Some studies have suggested increased risks of cancer in pets exposed to these products, although nothing has been proven conclusively. The safest course of action is to steer clear of them entirely, when possible.

Alternatives to Lawn Chemicals

When possible, use organic options to tackle your yard problems. Many lawn services now offer natural alternatives. The Environmental Protection Agency also provides a guide describing natural lawn care options. Some natural lawn care tips include:

  • Mow your lawn only when grass reaches 3-3.5 inches

  • Leave grass clippings on the lawn to fertilize

  • Aerate your lawn frequently

  • Fertilize in the fall with a natural fertilizer

  • Overseed with a native grass species

  • Use corn gluten meal to fertilize and slow weed development

  • Hand pull weeds or consider using horticultural vinegar to kill them

  • Use high quality mulches, netting, and/or plastic barriers to discourage weed growth

Organic alternatives are certainly better for the environment, and are the safest option for our pets (and likely people). Protect your family, two-legged and four, by using natural alternatives where possible. When you must use chemicals, be sure to read the label thoroughly and follow all directions.