Lawn Fertilizer and Pets

Every spring, nature wakes up and the amazing cycle of the seasons renews. And, each season, we look out at our lawns after a long winter and we want to help it along by adding fertilizer. But, is it safe to use lawn fertilizers around our pets?

Lawns provide a grassy space for our pets to run and play, however fertilizer can bring the possibility of illness to our pets. Since pets, especially dogs, have their noses to the ground and like to rummage around in holes, and walk “barefooted” on the grass, they have a higher susceptibility of picking up residues from the fertilizer. Pets can pick up the residues on their paws and fur and ingest them.

Fertilizer may not cause death, but they can lead to stomach illness, vomiting, diarrhea and seizures. There are many fertilizers on the market labeled “Pet Safe”, but they can still contain elements that could be harmful to your pet. You must thoroughly check the label before application.

The best practice includes finding and using a pet safe fertilizer, watering well after applications to further absorption, and keeping the pets off the yard for 24-48 hours. Also, keep your pet inside during application to avoid airborne inhalation or skin contact.

A few considerations in choosing fertilizer.

  • Liquid fertilizer – allows the soil to absorb the fertilizer more quickly. It is suggested to water after application for better soil solubility. But, determining safety after application can be trying, As you will not be able to actually see the fertilizer, you must wait until the grass is visibly dry and do not have any residue on the blades.

  • Granular Fertilizer – is the easiest to apply evenly and correctly and you will be able to see the tiny granules. A thorough watering will allow the granules to be absorbed into the soil. A rule of thumb is to allow 24 hours before allowing your pet back onto the lawn, allowing the fertilizer to soak in and the water to evaporate.

Some final notes, typically fertilizer is made up of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Nitrogen can burn pets paws and ingest phosphorus and/or potassium can lead to your pet being lethargic. This combination is potent enough to cause severe stomach ache and can lead to diarrhea and vomiting. If your pet is exhibiting any of these symptoms following lawn care, please contact our vets.

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