Fertilizers and your pets

       

Fertilizers and pesticides that make your lawn look good can injure your pets. Be sure you are using the right chemicals for your yard and animal.

Most homeowners do the bulk of their lawn care in the spring and summer months. In the process of trying to keep your grass greener than the Jones' grass you may overlook the potential hazards you are coating your lawn with. While fertilizers have been proven to boost the health of your grass they can also be hazardous to animals' health. Similarly, pesticides that keep insects and rodents away from your yard have been shown to be dangerous to pets.

Pet owners know that eating grass is a favorite animal pastime. Most owners try to train their animals not to chew the grass, both for its unbecoming appearance and because animals get sick from over eating grass. The reason a pet may be getting sick from grass is often the presence of pesticides or lawn fertilizer on the yard. Researchers at the National Cancer Institute have connected frequent chemical lawn treatments to a rise in deadly cancer among household pets. It has been found that the most serious problems occurring as a result of fertilizer ingestion is due to the high presence of heavy metals such as iron in the chemicals. Furthermore the most dangerous forms of pesticides are fly bait with methomyl, snail bait with metaldehyde, systemic insecticides with disyston or disulfoton, and gopher bait with zinc phosphide. These and other chemicals are particularly dangerous because they are expertly absorbed by the grass stalks in your lawn.

Fertilizers are not as dangerous to pets as those pesticides listed above. Fertilizers that do not contain herbicides or pesticides will not harm your pet. In fact, most fertilizers these days are pet friendly so long as you follow the instructions on the back. In general you must apply the fertilizer, water your lawn thoroughly to dilute the solution, and wait at least two days before you let Milo or Ottis out on the grass. To prevent other animal owners from walking their pets on your recently fertilized lawn you should alert them with a flag indicating the lawn has been coated with chemicals.                                       

While many fertilizers and pesticides have been made to be pet-friendly, there are some you need to be especially wary of. Cocoa bean mulch is an item homeowners have used to deter snails and slugs. The mulch has been found to attract curious dogs and to act as a poison on these pooches. Cocoa bean mulch contains caffeine and theobromine, both of which are toxic to dogs. If Rover eats too much of the mulch he may die. Some fertilizers used in other places in your yard, such as the trees, can also be dangerous. Broadleaf weed killers, which work by sticking to the leaves in your yard, can be hazardous to your pet's health. These chemicals should not be watered down as the fertilizer only works when it sticks to the leaves for at least 48 hours. During this window of time pets should be kept away from the trees.

Although most pets exposed to fertilizers and or pesticides do not die, they can become very ill. Symptoms of pets with fertilizer poisoning are continued vomiting and diarrhea. If you think your pet has consumed fertilized grass and is experiencing the poisonous effects you should contact your vet immediately.

Remember to always look at the label warning before you apply any chemicals to your lawn. If you have concerns about the possible affects a specific fertilizer may have on your dog or cat, it is wise to call the manufacturer and make the necessary inquires. Lastly, be sure to store your fertilizers well out of your best friend's reach, as undiluted fertilizer can be deadly.

Martha McDuffie

Martha McDuffie

Realtor ABR, MRP,SRES,AHWD
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