Garden Chemicals and Pets: How to Keep Your Dog Safe?

Yellow gold Labrador decorated with daisies in a garden

(Photo credit: Hannah Mentz/Getty Images)

Ah, the spring and summer months: the seasons to don those ever-fashionable hats and gloves and go outside to garden. But if you have dogs, you may be wondering if the chemicals that keep your roses blooming and your grass weed-free can hurt or even kill your pet.

It is not an unreasonable fear. Two of the ten biggest culprits in accidental poisonings — insecticides and bait for snails and snails — are found in the yard.

But knowing which chemicals to use with caution and which to stay completely off can save you and your dog a terrifying ordeal. Here are a few tips for dog-safe gardening and lawn care.

What to Avoid When Gardening to Keep Dogs Safe?

dog jumps over grass with garden chemicals

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There are a few chemicals that you absolutely should not use when gardening if you have a dog. They are too harmful and dangerous for pets playing in the yard.

Avoid using these products completely.

Disulfoton Pesticides

Disulfoton is part of a class of pesticides called organophosphates, which have been largely withdrawn from the market. However, it still exists and shows up in some rose-protective products.

Disulfoton is not only extremely toxic to dogs – it causes vomiting, diarrhea, seizures and possibly death – it is also a dog’s idea of ​​​​good food.

“Dogs will eat as much of it as they can get,” says veterinarian Tina Wismer of the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center.

It is often mixed with fertilizers such as blood and bone meal, making it even more appealing to the dog’s palate.

Wismer recommends that dog parents stay completely away from disulfoton pesticides. But if you absolutely must use it, keep your pup out of the treated area and store leftover chemicals in a chew-proof container, out of reach.

Snail and snail bait with metaldehyde

This kind of snail and snail bait can cause tremors, seizures, and even death — and again, it tastes tremendously good to dogs.

If you have a dog, use something else. Bait with iron phosphate is a less toxic version.

Use herbicides with caution if you have a dog

Family with two children and dog planting flowers in a front or backyard.

(Photo credit: vgajic/Getty Images)

Roundup and similar herbicides are not as dangerous as disulfoton and snail bait, but they can still cause vomiting if eaten.

Bring your dogs indoors when applying herbicides, along with their chew toys, food bowls, and anything else they can put their mouths on, making sure to keep them there until the treated area is good and dry.

Once it dries, the chemical has moved to the root of the plant and the lawn is considered dog safe.

You can also try using corn gluten meal instead of chemicals; it’s a natural herbicide, and Wismer says it’s effective and safe for dogs.

What about the long-term effects of garden chemicals?

dog sniffs flowers

(Photo: Tara Gregg / EyeEm/Getty Images)

While some chemicals are known to be harmful, not much research has been done to find out how several other popular garden chemicals affect dogs in the long run, and right now the answer is frustrating: “We don’t really know.”

One study found that Scottish Terriers who lived in homes that used phenoxy herbicides were about 4.4 times more likely to develop bladder cancer. Unfortunately, no one followed up on the study, and because the study didn’t look at the other healthy dogs living with the dogs that developed cancer, Wismer says it’s inconclusive.

What we do know is that cancer is the leading cause of death in many dog ​​breeds, and playing it safe is never a bad idea.

“I would definitely minimize garden chemicals and use organic options if I can,” says Wismer.

It’s definitely better for the planet, and it might be better for your dog.

Do you have any tips for dog-friendly gardening? How do you protect your pup from dangerous chemicals? Let us know in the comments below!

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