Best Pet-Safe Lawn Care
Updated: Oct 3
We all want that luscious yard where the flowers are popping', bees are a buzzin', and those pesky weeds are deader than last year's memes. But how do we also make sure the lawn is safe enough for our dogs to roll around, sniff and do zoomies? It's time we introduce you to the best pet-safe weed killers, and all the tips for keepin' your pup safe this summer.
Are Herbicides and Weed Killers Safe to Use Around Dogs?
Well that's going to depend on what type of weed killer you're using. If you're sharing your herbicide treated lawn with your pups and other pets, you're going to want to use a pet-safe weed killer. Here's the difference:
Traditional Weed Killers
Many popular herbicides/weed killers contain harsh chemicals - like the ones listed below - that can be harmful to dogs and/or wildlife. These should be avoided in areas where your pets may roam. Using traditional weed killers is not only a concern for dogs who have a habit of foraging and taste-testing weeds, plants, and other forbidden snacks throughout your yard, but these chemicals can also be absorbed through your dog's skin and paw pads from just a quick potty break in the treated areas.
Pet-Safe Weed Killers
Newer pet-safe or pet-friendly herbicides/weed killers have nixed the toxic chemicals and replaced them with safer, all-natural ingredients such was vinegar, soap, or saltwater to effectively kill unwanted weeds and grasses. With these more natural options, you can have peace of mind knowing your pup is safe to romp wherever their heart desires.
Ingredients to Avoid for Pet Safety
The chemicals listed below are some of the more commonly used toxic ingredients in popular herbicides. Although their names are going to look like alphabet soup you definitely don't want your dog eating (or rolling around in).
Important tip: If your dog does ingest a lawn care (or other chemical) product, contact a veterinarian or poison control before attempting any treatment at home. Do not induce vomiting! This can cause serious complications.
Glyphosate - Can cause intestinal and digestive issues for pets(1) and children if ingested while wet; this includes vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite (2). It's also been known to cause cancer.
2, 4-D And Mecoprop (Types of Chloropenoxy Herbicides) Although this first one sounds more like the name of a robot or one of Elon Musk's children, 2, 4-D, along with Mecoprop, are herbicides that treat broadleaf weeds.These ingredients are common in may traditional weed killers.(3) Of all the mammals, dogs are the most sensitive to higher doses (4), and tend to have more severe intoxication symptoms including impaired muscle control and coordination, vomiting and diarrhea.
Paraquat and Diquat (Types of Quaternary Ammonium Herbicides) - These ingredients can cause GI issues, renal impairment, central nervous system problems, and irritation to the skin, eyes, nose and lungs of dogs.(5) They're mainly used by commercially licensed individuals or companies that care for lawns.
How Do You Keep You Pets Safe Around Herbicides?
"Pet-safe" does not mean it's safe for your pet to ingest! Always store your herbicides/weed killers in a safe area out of reach of doggy snouts. Although many products listed below use minimal ingredients, such as vinegar and water, they have the potential to make your dog sick if your pup is straight up slurping out of the container when you're not looking.
Always check the ingredient list first. It's important to read the label, make sure you understand the ingredient list, and check for any chemicals that may be toxic to your pets. A red flag would include "other inactive ingredients" not specified on the label. Never rely on brand name alone when choosing a pet-safe option. Some brands manufacture both and slick marketing could have you pulling the wrong bottle off the shelf.
Follow the instructions carefully. It's way more common than it should be to simply buy a product and start sloshing it around everywhere without ever reading the instructions. For your pets sake, don't be that person! It takes 2 minutes to read the label.
Can You Make A Homemade Pet-Safe Weed Killer?
You can! Although they might not always work against the most stubborn backyard invaders, and may require continual re-application. Ingredients in your own pantry can work double-duty as a natural, pet-safe alternative to store bought weed killers. In fact, most "pet-safe" products sold online use different combinations and strengths of these ingredients:
A word of warning, though: these ingredients can still cause GI upset in your dog if ingested off of plants. Make sure they're completely dry before allowing your pup free reign over the yard.
Here's the Natural Weed Killer Recipe we recommend:
1 gallon white vinegar
1 cup salt
1 tablespoon liquid dish soap
Combine ingredients in a spray bottle and treat weeds at the sunniest time of day for best results. When looking for a natural alternative to herbicides, a cocktail of vinegar, salt and liquid dish soap has all of the ingredients needed to quickly kill weeds.
Available in granules, a fine powder or pellets, this natural byproduct of milling corn also works to keep weeds at bay. As a "pre-emergent" weed suppressant, it won't kill established weeds or plants but will prevent new weeds from growing.
Top 5 Pet-Friendly Weed Killers You Can Buy Online or In-Store
ECO Living Solutions Organic Weed and Grass Killer
Green Gobbler Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer
Doctor Kirchner Natural Weed Killer
Making the decision to tackle your weeds organically might not be the easiest path to a weed-free yard, but it's certainly the healthiest for you, your family, your pets, and the environment.
1 “Questions and Answers on Glyphosate.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, 28 Feb. 2022, https://www.fda.gov/food/pesticides/questions-and-answers-glyphosate.
2 Henderson, A. M.; Gervais, J. A.; Luukinen, B.; Buhl, K.; Stone, D.; Cross, A.; Jenkins, J. 2010. Glyphosate General Fact Sheet; National Pesticide Information Center, Oregon State University Extension Services. http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/glyphogen.html.
3 “2,4-D.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 8 Mar. 2022, https://www.epa.gov/ingredients-used-pesticide-products/24-d.
4 Gupta, Ramesh C.; Crissman, James W. “Chlorophenoxy Herbicide.” ScienceDirect , Haschek and Rousseaux’s Handbook of Toxicologic Pathology (Third Edition), 2013, https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/chlorophenoxy-herbicide.
5 Gupta, P. K. “Organic Herbicides Toxic to Animals – Toxicology.” Merck Veterinary Manual, Merck Veterinary Manual, 7 July 2022, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/toxicology/herbicide-poisoning/organic-herbicides-toxic-to-animals.