As we make our way to spring sunshine and warmer weather, working and playing out in our yards becomes something we all can enjoy. The common lawn products we use can draw curious pets over to taste and nose whatever is in those brightly colored bags. This can lead to unintentional but serious poisonings. As we wrap up Poison Awareness Month, we wanted to focus your attention on common lawn products toxic to pets.
Knowing what chemicals are in your lawn products and the toxic symptoms to look out for can save your dog or cat’s life. Here are some common lawn products toxic to pets.
Pesticides containing disulfoton are part of a class of chemicals called organophosphates, which, for the most part, have been pulled off the market. Disulfoton, however, is still popular to use in rose-protecting products such as Ortho’s Rose Pride. This chemical is dangerous because it tastes good to pets, but it has very toxic effects. These effects include, diarrhea, seizures, and even death. Since it’s often mixed with fertilizers made with animal by-products, disulfoton becomes even tastier to your pet. The ASPCA Poison Control Hotline recommends pet owners not to use these particular products. If you must, keep your animals out of treated areas with a barrier and store leftover products out-of-reach in a chew-proof container.
Another common pesticide is slug and snail bait made with metaldehyde. This causes tremors, seizures and even death in dogs. This is another product that tastes good to them. If you need to use this type of pesticide, baits containing ferric phosphate are much less toxic to pets. Lawn pesticides can have fatal effects on our pets causing minor issues like vomiting, or serious health issues like canine malignant lymphoma. Make sure to read the labels for the products you use.
While Roundup® and similar herbicides aren’t as dangerous as disulfoton and snail bait to your pets, they can still make your pet sick. Herbicides cause vomiting, diarrhea, and deadly symptoms for senior animals. Pets with compromised immune systems are also at risk. Keep your pets – and all of their toys, bowls, etc. – inside while applying herbicides. Please wait until the grass is dry to let them outside. Once the treated area is dry, the chemical has reached the plant’s root, and the lawn can be considered animal-safe.
A chemical known as 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, or 2,4-D, developed by the US military and used in Agent Orange is used in some herbicides. It is a carcinogen and has been known to cause a wide range of other health problems in humans and animals. These issues include birth defects, psychological issues, and tumors. In modern times, while widely used in professional landscaping, you can find 2,4-D in these herbicides:
- Bayer Advanced All-in-One Lawn Weed and Crabgrass Killer
- Ortho Weed-B-Gon Max
- Scotts Liquid Turf Builder
- Sta-Green Phosphorus-Free Weed & Feed
- Scotts Snap Pac Weed & Feed
Make sure to read the label to know if these herbicides are safe for your pet.
Cocoa mulch, made from the shells or hulls of the cocoa bean, smells faintly of chocolate. Due to the scent, your dog may be tempted to eat some of it. This mulch type contains a small amount of theobromine, the active ingredient in chocolate that causes chocolate toxicity in dogs. Some signs of poisoning include: drooling/hypersalivation, diarrhea, hyperactivity, rapid heart rate, tremors, seizures, and dark red gums. The severity of symptoms will depend on how much mulch your dog ingests. Keep your dog out of the mulch for the first few weeks. Sun, rain, and heat dissipate the smell of chocolate over time and the likelihood of poisoning decreases.
Most non-professional fertilizers contain non-toxic, natural elements such as nitrogen, potash and phosphorus that, unless ingested right out of the bag, don’t pose a poisoning threat to your pet. If you follow label directions carefully and keep your pets inside while applying the fertilizer, you should be safe. Additionally, wait until the lawn is dry if using a liquid fertilizer or after a rain if using a pelleted product to allow the fertilizer to wash into the soil and not in contact with your pets.
Read labels carefully. Some fertilizers contain iron that can result in iron poisoning. Others are combined with dangerous insecticides such as organophosphates and carbamates. Both types of chemicals can result in deadly toxicity symptoms, including drooling, vomiting, excessive tearing, lethargy, collapse, abnormal heart rates, difficulty breathing, seizures and death. Avoid these fertilizers if you can. If you must use them, keep them locked away out of the reach of your pets.
Surprisingly, organic fertilizers can be more dangerous to your pets. Most “natural” fertilizers contain animal by-products, including bone meal, blood meal, feather meal, and fish meal. These products smell and taste good to dogs, so they may be tempted to ingest large amounts of fertilizers in one sitting. This can cause gastrointestinal irritation (vomiting, diarrhea), foreign body obstruction (from all the congealing bone meal) and even pancreatitis (life-threatening inflammation of the pancreas). If you suspect your dog has ingested organic fertilizers see your veterinarian immediately for possible treatment, including induced vomiting, abdominal x-rays, intravenous fluid therapy, and medications to reduce pain and vomiting. Prompt treatment and supportive care are necessary to heal your pet from this kind of toxicity.
We all want our pets to be safe and healthy playing outside. Since March 23 is National Puppy Day, we want to remind all dog and puppy parents to keep your yard free of feces. This protects your dogs against both intestinal worms and the deadly parvovirus. Make sure to get your puppies vaccinated on a regular schedule. Remember, a $20 vaccination could save your puppy from the pain of parvo and keep your vet bills to a minimum.
Please note: If you think that your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, first, call your veterinarian, then call the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline at (888) 426-4435. It can save your animal’s life.