Spring is just around the corner and with that comes everyone’s favorite activity-yard work. Ok, so maybe yard work isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, nevertheless, it is something that must be done. If you have a dog, this could prove to be a dangerous time of year. Pesticides, fertilizers, and insecticides can be very toxic and deadly to dogs, just as they are to humans. Products aren’t the only thing that pose a serious threat; many plants and even mulch can be poisonous to dogs. The good news is you can have a vibrant lawn and keep your furry best friend safe all at the same time. 

Deadly Plants

Flowers always make our yards look so much more attractive. They brighten up dull areas and add little pops of color to, what is otherwise a mostly green landscape. Let’s start with a couple of well-known springtime flowers that are common, especially around Easter. 

Tulips, Hyacinth, Daffodils, & Lillies- Each of these pretty little annuals can be toxic if ingested by your pup. Upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea, as well as more severe side effects, such as seizures and tremors, can all be results of these common Spring perennials. If your dog accidentally eats a lily, he will probably suffer from a severe upset belly, however, lilies are extremely deadly for cats. It is crucial that you are extremely diligent about keeping your cat away from lilies.

Azaleas and Rhododendrons- Again, two very beautiful, but deadly plants. If ingested by you (yes, they are poisonous to humans too!) or your dog, symptoms will include severe upset stomach, paralysis, and death. Its best to keep these out of the areas that you allow your dog to run and play.

Lily of the Valley- Another poisonous plant that can result in vomiting, diarrhea, drops in heart rate, seizures and death.

There is an endless list of poisonous plants that can cause skin irritations and be deadly to your dog if ingested. For a complete list of plants, please refer to the Pet Poison Helpline. If you think your pet may have eaten a plant and is experiencing any of the symptoms stated above, please seek immediate veterinary assistance.

Lawn Care Chemicals

Weeds: every gardener’s worst enemy. There are many products on the market that are used to target and eliminate weeds. However, there are certain products that you should absolutely avoid using and others that you should take great caution when using if you own a dog. 

Two products you should absolutely avoid using in your garden are disulfoton pesticides and snail and slug bait. Disulfoton is used in products used to help protect roses and can be tremendously enticing, as well as toxic, to our four-legged friends.  Both products can cause diarrhea, seizures, vomiting, and ultimately death, and it is recommended that if you have a dog to avoid using these products completely.

Herbicides and pesticides are other chemicals that are common with lawn care. Although not as life-threatening as slug bait and disulfoton, they can still cause serious health issues. Make sure if you are applying these chemicals to your yard that you clean up any of your dog’s toys or water bowls to ensure that nothing is accidently applied to them. 

So, what happens if your dog does come into contact with these products? It’s crucial to know the signs and symptoms that can be caused due to the toxicity of these chemicals. If your dog starts to vomit, drool, have seizures, shiver, breath heavily, or have diarrhea, you want to seek veterinary assistance immediately! Let your veterinarian know what lawn products you were using so they have a better idea on how to treat your pup.

Safety Measures to Consider & Alternatives 

It is extremely important to take proper care when applying any chemicals to your yard and properly storing the products in order to keep your pet safe. Remember that it can take up to 48 hours for some of these harsh substances to soak into the ground after application. If you are using these products, you will want to keep your dog off your lawn for two days for their safety. As a precaution, it’s a good idea to wash your pup’s legs and belly in case he does encounter the treated lawn area.   

Safe Alternatives

Cornmeal-Believe it or not, ground-up cornmeal is a safe alternative to weed killer.  It acts as a pre-emergent herbicide, so basically is a safe version of Preen. Simply sprinkle the cornmeal in your flower beds, grass, or garden, and it will help to eliminate weeds from growing. 

Pet Safe Products-There are a few options as far as pet-safe products, such as Pet Safe Fertilizer, that do not pose a risk to pets. Companies, like Pet Safe, create lawn care products that are safe to use around our beloved pets, without having a wait period. 

Pet Turf-Think about how much time you spend every spring, summer, and fall caring for your lawn, flowers, and gardens. If you could think of other things you would rather be doing that dedicating hours each week to your yard, you could always consider having pet safe turf laid out to replace your grass. This non-toxic, artificial grass is specifically designed to replace the grass in your yard and uses a antimicrobial technology that helps sanitize the area after your dog uses the bathroom. Although it can be expensive, there is little upkeep and no harsh chemicals involved.

Untreated lawns-For some people, yard work is simply overrated. Just know that even if your yard is untreated, the wind or water run off from treated yards and can still land chemicals in your area. 

Now that you are aware of some of the toxic plants and products that are typically used when it comes to working in the yard make sure you always do your research prior to applying any kind of product near or around your pets and the area where they run and play.  Remember to keep all chemicals and harsh substances sealed and stored safely away so that your curious pup cannot sneak into them. If at any time you think your dog may have had access to any of these products, make sure you seek veterinary attention immediately.