Many homeowners use some kind of lawn care chemicals on their grass, such as pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.
In the United States, garden supply sales totaled more than 372 billion dollars in 2019.
For dog owners, it is essential to keep their pets safe from these lawn chemicals because they pose very serious health hazards.
So how long do you need to keep your dog off of the lawn after applying lawn chemicals?
Most pesticides take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours to dry after application. However, it is best to keep your dog off the lawn between 48-72 hours to be completely safe. The grass must be fully dry after applying any type of pesticide before letting your dog walk on it again.
The drying time for your lawn will vary depending on the weather in your area.
If there is a lot of rainfall or humidity, your grass may take several days to dry thoroughly.
Read on to learn more about the dangers of pesticides to your dog as well as safer alternatives.
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How Dangerous Are Pesticides To Dogs?
Organophosphates, which are found in most herbicides and pesticides, are the most common cause of illness in dogs.
These compounds are also found in flea and tick treatments but much smaller amounts.
If your dog managed to ingest any flea and tick treatment, the animal would only be mildly poisoned.
Organophosphates are found in much higher quantities in pesticides, though, which makes them toxic or possibly lethal to your dog.
Eating grass treated with pesticides is not the only way your dog may be poisoned.
Your dog is also able to absorb these lethal toxins through its skin and lungs.
Speaking of dogs, check out our picks for the best grasses for dogs.
Symptoms Of Pesticide Poisoning
If the pesticide on your grass has not completely dried, your dog is at a high risk of becoming sick.
Unfortunately, signs of pesticide poisoning may not appear right away, or your dog may have mild symptoms.
It is crucial to monitor your dog closely after any possible pesticide exposure.
If you notice any of the following symptoms in your dog, it is vital to seek veterinary care right away.
Take the container of pesticide with you to the vet visit, as this will help the veterinarian choose the proper treatment quickly.
A body temperature higher than 103° degrees Fahrenheit (39° C) means your dog has a high fever.
If you do not have a thermometer, you may check your dog’s temperature by feeling the inside of their ear.
If the ear is warm to the touch, your dog likely has a fever.
One of the most concerning signs of pesticide poisoning is a change in your dog’s breathing.
If your dog is gasping for breath, breathing shallowly, or starting to pant excessively, pesticide poisoning may have occurred.
This is a very serious symptom for your dog, so do not hesitate to get veterinary care.
Vomiting is very common with pesticide poisoning in dogs, and it is one of the most noticeable symptoms.
If your dog is vomiting excessively, this means its body is rejecting the toxins from the lawn chemicals.
Vomiting helps flush the toxins from your dog’s body to prevent more damage.
Pesticides strain an animal’s liver and kidneys, and if treatment is not sought quickly enough, permanent damage may be done.
Do not induce vomiting in your dog if it is not already doing so.
With some lawn care chemicals, vomiting will cause more damage to your dog’s body.
Diarrhea is another sign your dog’s body is trying to flush out harmful toxins.
This symptom is particularly dangerous because it will cause your dog to become dehydrated and stressed.
Gastrointestinal stress is also very painful for your pet.
Hypersalivation simply means your dog is drooling heavily.
If your dog does not usually drool, this symptom will be more noticeable.
Otherwise, an increase in the amount of saliva your dog is producing indicates hypersalivation.
Seizures, Shaking, and Muscle Weakness
The chemicals in pesticides affect the nerve endings in your dog’s muscles.
This nerve damage will cause the muscle fibers to spasm or twitch.
Muscle spasms may develop into seizures as the toxins progress through your dog’s body.
If your dog starts having seizures, emergency care is necessary.
Nerve damage may also cause muscle weakness and lethargy.
Your dog may struggle to walk or hold itself up.
If your dog is usually not very active, sedentary behavior may not be noticed right away.
Loss of Appetite
Loss of appetite is a delayed symptom of pesticide poisoning, and it may take days or even weeks to develop.
Pay attention to your dog’s food habits every day.
If it has been 18-24 hours since your dog has eaten, seek veterinary care right away.
Depression is one of the most challenging symptoms to observe because it may manifest differently in every dog.
The signs of depression in dogs closely mimic the symptoms in humans.
Your dog may begin to sleep more and lose interest in playing or going for a walk.
They may also exhibit restless energy or begin to mope.
A dog’s eating habits could change, and they may no longer have a robust appetite.
What To Do If Your Dog Is Exposed To Pesticides
Pesticide poisoning rarely goes without any noticeable signs, and your dog may have some or all of the symptoms listed above.
If your local veterinarian is not available, contact the nearest emergency vet hospital.
The sooner your dog receives treatment for pesticide poisoning, the chance of your pet making a full recovery is increased.
The veterinarian will begin by examining your dog and asking you questions about when and how the poisoning may have occurred.
Bringing the pesticide container or label with you to your dog’s visit will help the vet determine the treatment more quickly.
The most critical step in your dog’s recovery is to rid its body of all harmful toxins.
If the pesticide was recently ingested, the vet might induce vomiting to flush the toxins from your pet’s system.
Activated charcoal may also be used to effectively absorb the chemicals from your dog’s stomach lining.
If your dog is convulsing or having seizures, the vet will give them medication to calm the muscle spasms.
Vets give oxygen to your pet to help it breathe more easily.
If your dog has been suffering from vomiting, diarrhea, or hypersalivation, a vet may give it fluids intravenously to help with dehydration.
In cases of severe diarrhea, your vet may instruct you to limit your dog’s food intake until its stomach has settled down.
Seeking veterinary care as soon as possible is the key to your dog making a full recovery with fewer long-term side effects.
How Pesticides Get Indoors
Even if you have been careful and waited several days before allowing your dog to get on the grass after a lawn chemical treatment, it is still possible to be exposed to dangerous toxins.
If there is any pesticide residue on your grass, it will be transferred to your dog’s paws and fur.
Your pet will then track this residue into your home, and when you pet your dog, your dog may transfer the chemicals to you and your clothing.
Lawn care chemicals have been found primarily in carpet dust, which puts you and your dog at risk for toxin exposure daily.
Lawn chemicals easily contaminate rugs, couches, or dog beds.
In 2001, a study found pesticide residues on indoor surfaces one week after people treated the lawn.
Children were also ten times more likely to have pesticide exposure in the week following the application when compared to the week before treatment.
Many times, the pesticide chemicals are brought indoors through the air.
No matter how careful you are about pesticide exposure, there is still a risk when using these chemicals.
There are a few things you will do to reduce the number of harmful toxins brought into your home.
During the first week after you have treated your lawn, it is essential to wipe your dog’s fur and paws thoroughly before letting them back into the house.
It is also best to monitor your dog to ensure it is not eating any grass.
You can read here on why dogs shouldn’t eat grass seed or grass.
How To Keep Pets Safe From Pesticides
The only way to keep your dog safe after applying pesticides is to restrict the animal’s access to your lawn for 48-72 hours.
Lawn care companies may tell you the grass is safe for your pet 6-12 hours after application.
This is simply not true, according to a study done in 2013.
The study determined pesticides and other lawn chemicals stayed on surfaces for up to 48 hours after they were applied.
Keeping your dog off the grass for up to three days will be challenging, but it must be done to keep your pet safe.
Watering the lawn and allowing it to dry before letting your dog on the grass will also help remove or dilute any residue left on grass blades or plant leaves.
Remove anything your dog regularly has contact with before applying a pesticide to your lawn.
This includes removing food bowls, water bowls, toys, and anything else that may contact toxic chemicals.
Check out these tips for growing grass with dogs.
Short- And Long-Term Health Concerns
Even if your dog is exposed to small amounts of pesticides, it may still experience immediate physical symptoms.
The short-term health concerns of pesticide exposure include:
- Skin rashes
- Nausea and vomiting
- Eye irritation
- Respiratory problems
Long-term health issues are usually very serious.
Dogs have been found to have herbicides in their urine.
Prolonged exposure to grass treated with an herbicide also increases your dog’s risk of developing bladder cancer.
The chemicals in lawn care products will also cause damage to your dog’s liver and kidneys as its body tries to flush out the harmful substances.
This strain on the dog’s organs may lead to premature liver or kidney failure.
Organic Pet-Safe Lawn Care
The only way to reduce the harmful effects of a pesticide-treated lawn on your pets is to switch to an organic form of lawn treatment.
Diquat dibromide and Roundup products containing glyphosate are some of the most common herbicides on the market, but they are also extremely toxic.
The dangers of glyphosate are very well known, yet they continue to be used in lawns across the country.
Switching to products with organic ingredients will result in a healthier lawn and reduce the risk of exposure to toxins.
Many organic lawn care products include ingredients to make your lawn healthier, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
These products may also include calcium, magnesium, boron, iron, and other macro and micronutrients.
It may be more difficult to find an organic weed killer, as there are not many options available on the market.
You may need to call a lawn care company specializing in organic and pet-safe lawn care for proper weed removal.
Pesticide Alternatives Found In Your Home
Another alternative for pet-safe, organic pest, and weed control includes items you may already have in your home.
While these homemade treatments may not be as effective as their commercial counterparts, they are much safer for you and your pets.
Add a small amount of dish soap or laundry detergent to a liquid mixture to help it stick better to plant leaves.
Vinegar is a common pantry staple, and gardeners widely use it for removing unwanted plants and weeds.
The best thing is it is entirely harmless to your dog.
If you have heavy weeds, you may need to reapply vinegar several times for the best results.
Sugar is a versatile ingredient for your garden, and it is very effective at destroying unwanted plants, including shrubs and trees.
Simply spray a water and sugar solution on the plant you want to kill several times until the plant is dead.
Use sugar to keep garden pests away.
To make a pesticide, mix the sugar solution with chili pepper and spray it on the areas where pest removal is necessary.
Salt will act as both an herbicide and a fertilizer, depending on the amount you use.
In large quantities, salt will kill weeds, while it may improve the soil in smaller amounts.
If you are using a large amount of salt for weed control, be aware the soil may not be suitable for supporting plant growth where it is applied.
Cornmeal functions as a pre-emergent herbicide.
It contains an ingredient that keeps weed seeds from sprouting when mixed and applied to the soil.