Dogs and other pets want to take advantage of nice weather just as much – if not more – than you. Their tendency to put their noses in the ground, eat random clumps of grass and of course walk with their bare paws all over the ground, though, making their time outdoors potentially more dangerous. By only using safe fertilizers to get your spring lawn looking its best, you’ll go a long way in keeping your pets healthy.
Fertilizer comes in two basic types – granular and liquid. Granules are sprinkled onto the ground and slowly absorbed by plants. Water-based fertilizer is sprayed on and is absorbed more quickly.
Most commercially-available fertilizers contain natural, essentially non-toxic ingredients like nitrogen and phosphorous. Some may contain iron, which can cause poisoning if ingested in sufficient quantity. A select few may contain the insecticides, limited in use by the Environmental Protection Agency. Ingestion of these chemicals by an animal can result in life-threatening symptoms including vomiting, severe lethargy, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, seizures and tremors. Contact your vet immediately if you suspect your pet has come in contact with them. Organic fertilizers pose serious dangers to pets as well, especially dogs, who are drawn to the ingredients that may include bone, blood or fish meal. Intake of these can cause vomiting, diarrhea, choking or pancreatitis.
Safe Fertilizer Options
- Seaweed is nitrogen-rich and available as a solid or liquid application.
- Grass clippings left on your lawn eliminate the need for up to 20 percent of the normal amount of nitrogen fertilizer. Long clippings are bad for the lawn, so mow regularly to get the benefit.
- Compost is an effective and inexpensive homemade fertilizer. Drawbacks include the volume required to get the necessary nitrogen and the potential that your dog may find the smell alluring and dig, dig, dig.
Regardless of the type of fertilizer you use, always follow directions and heed warnings printed on the package. Generally, it’s a safe rule-of-thumb to keep pets off the affected area for at least 24 hours after fertilizing. Wet or dry fertilizer can get on and into your pet’s’ paws if they walk on it before it’s been absorbed. Keep the fertilizer completely sealed and out of reach when not in use. The temptation for your dog to eat it right out of the bag is strong. That can cause serious health issues, including death, no matter how safe the fertilizer is.