Spring is the time of year that homeowners begin treating their lawns with various chemicals including fertilizer and weed control products, and treating turf grass and garden for fungal diseases and insects. Be aware that the pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and fertilizers used in the garden or landscape can be dangerous to pets. The good news is that if you follow manufacturers’ instructions, most landscape chemicals can be used safely around pets, according to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
Pets are exposed to chemicals when they walk across a treated lawn, roll in the grass or rub against plants before the chemicals have dried. Licking and swallowing chemicals can upset your pet’s digestive system causing diarrhea and vomiting. Ingesting a concentrated amount of a chemical is more dangerous and can lead to convulsions and death.
The risk of a pet developing a health problem from exposure to lawn and garden chemicals depends on the amount and the toxicity of the chemical for that animal. “Pet owners can minimize the chance of their pet having a problem by selecting lower toxicity pesticides and minimizing the amount of exposure their pet has to the pesticide during and after the application” suggests the National Pesticide Information Center.
What should you do?
- Read and follow the manufacturer’s directions.
- Remove pet toys, bedding, food and water bowls from the area to be treated.
- Move your pet indoors while chemicals are spread or sprayed. For pellet chemicals, follow instructions to water into the grass and allow it to dry.
- Consider dividing spraying into areas on different days so that your pet has a safe area to use.
- Keep your pet indoors until the chemicals have dried completely.
- Use the least toxic chemicals you can and read safety labels and precautions.
- Clean up any spilled chemicals quickly and do not leave chemical containers where your pet may find them.
- Do not spray chemicals on windy days to limit inadvertent spreading to neighbor’s yards. If you notice a neighbor spraying on a windy day, bring your pet inside.
- Store chemicals in their original containers and place them in an area inaccessible to pets.
If after a recent application of chemicals on your grass, landscape or garden your pet shows unusual behaviors such as excessive salivation, vomiting, stumbling or appears lethargic, immediately contact your veterinarian or emergency pet medical center. If you cannot reach your vet, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888.426.4435.
Be prepared to provide your name, address and phone number; the name of the product and describe how it’s affecting the animal. The Poison Control Center consultant will also need information on the breed, age, sex and weight of the animal and the amount of the plant ingested or to what the animal was exposed. There is a consultation fee for this service from ASPCA. For more information, about pesticides visit the AgriLife website.