We all love your pets, so when in doubt, keep your pets inside while working with some of these common lawn additives.
Fertilisers come in two types: granules or water-based products (that are directly sprayed onto the lawn), and while fertilisers may look scary – with warning signs stating that children and pets should be kept off the grass for at least 72 hours. In actuality, fertilisers are generally pretty safe; in fact, they typically have a wide margin of safety depending on what type of product is used.
As mentioned in previous blog posts, most lawn fertilisers contain natural elements (N,P,K) — often represented by numbers such as 10:5:20 (or similar) on the bag. Thankfully, these elements are generally non-toxic. However some fertilisers may also contain insecticides for killing grubs, snails, etc. that generally result in mild gastrointestinal signs (e.g., drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, etc.) when ingested directly from the bag.
If your dog eats some grass that had fertiliser applied to it, it rarely leads to serious poisoning; that said, more serious signs can be seen when the product is directly ingested (i.e., right out of the bag). If ingested directly from the bag, the results can include tremors and seizures.
To avoid any poisoning risk to your pet, follow the labeled instructions carefully and keep your pets inside while you apply these products to the lawn. To be safe, keep your pets off the lawn until the product is absorbed by the soil (e.g., when the product dries if it’s a spray-on product, or after it is watering in or rains if it is a pelleted product). When appropriately applied or diluted, these chemicals typically wash into the soil after rainfall, resulting in low-risk to dogs.
The most important thing is to make sure it’s not a fertiliser that has more dangerous products in it – some may contain iron, which can result in iron poisoning, and less common types may contain very dangerous insecticides such as carbamates or organophosphates. Thankfully, the latter, are rare. Carbamates and organophosphates can result in more serious, life-threatening clinical signs such as:
- Severe collapse
- Excessive tearing
- Abnormal heart rates
- Difficulty breathing
Again, these more dangerous types are rarely seen on the market nowadays but, when in doubt, make sure to keep the garage door locked and these fertilisers out of reach!
Surprisingly, the more dangerous types of fertilisers are organic fertilisers. Most pet owners want to use “safer” products around their pets, and so they often reach for something organic. Organic fertilisers are typically “natural” fertilisers that are leftover byproducts from the meat or farming industry. Examples include:
These organic “meals” are widely utilised as soil amendment products, fertiliser components, or as wildlife repellants. These products are often highly palatable to dogs; they smell disgusting but they smell good to dogs, and so they may tempt a massive ingestion (e.g., dogs ingesting an entire bag).
When these organic fertilisers are ingested, they can result in gastrointestinal irritation (e.g., vomiting, diarrhea, etc.), foreign body obstruction (from all the fertiliser congealing into a large bowling-ball-like concretion), or even severe pancreatitis (i.e., inflammation of the pancreas). Treatment includes:
- Examination at your vet
- Inducing vomiting
- Fluid therapy
- Anti-vomiting medication
Rarely, with massive ingestions, pumping the stomach may be necessary to get the product out of the stomach. Thankfully, most dogs do well with prompt treatment and supportive care.