Instinctively, it seems like a bad idea to let your dog romp on a lawn that’s just been sprayed with chemical pesticides. But now there’s actual proof that pesticide-treated lawns can increase a dog’s risk of developing at least one type of cancer.
Even if you don’t use toxins in your own yard, there’s evidence that these compounds can travel. So your dog can still pick them up while he’s outside. Even if you don’t have your own lawn treated.
Lawn chemicals are something I try to avoid. We don’t use them in our yard. (I’d much rather have weeds.) But our neighbors do. We live in a development. So it would be impossible to totally avoid them. However, our own 16-year-old dog doesn’t spend much time outdoors. He doesn’t like the outside. So he’s only out to “do his business,” and when we’re walking him.
Plus, we live in a wooded area with a lot of wildlife. Spending a lot of time outside wouldn’t be safe. Our dog is now 16, and would be easy prey. Some years ago, a much younger dog a few houses away was mauled by coyotes. So we’re not too far away when he’s away from the house.
Are Lawn Chemicals Bad for Dogs
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But a lot of dogs do spend more time outside. If your dog does, you may want to think about taking steps to avoid commercial lawn chemicals.
Unfortunately, there’s evidence that you don’t actually have to use these chemicals in your own yard for your dog to be exposed. (I cited a study, which you can read about later in this article.) However, it also stands to reason that chemicals applied to laws can move around. For instance, when it rains, runoff from a chemically treated lawn will move off the property. If you live in a development, as we do, there’s no way to totally avoid lawn chemicals.
This is why some pet owners insist their dogs wear disposable dog booties when they venture outside. These will protect a dog’s feet if you are walking him, or he goes outside to relieve himself. However, they won’t protect him if he rolls in the grass. That’s why it’s probably better to take him to a non-treated area to play.
Dogs and Lawn Chemicals
In this particular study, only the risk of bladder cancer was assessed. However, it’s not too much of a stretch to conclude that exposing your pet to these toxins is a bad idea in general, and could potentially predispose him to other serious health problems, including different malignancies. Just because studies haven’t been conducted doesn’t mean these chemicals are safe, for pets or for humans.
We often see those yellow signs on manicured lawns, warning people to stay off the grass for 24 hours. However, one team of researchers in North Carolina found that even after 48 hours, the chemicals had not broken down completely. In some cases, it took even longer than this window of “safety.”
Are Lawn Chemicals Safe for Dogs?
Another group of scientists, as expected, found concentrations of lawn pesticide residue in the urine of dogs who lived in houses where pesticides were applied to the yard. However, alarmingly, about half of the dogs studied, whose owners had chemical-free lawns, somehow absorbed these products into their systems.
Dogs, as we know, go for walks and may encounter toxins on the sidewalks. If they’re let outdoors, to roam freely, nothing is stopping them from stepping onto a treated lawn and rolling around in the grass. Once inside, they tend to lick their fur and their paws.
The news gets worse. These chemicals are then easily transferred to humans, as the chemicals are tracked into the house. (There’s also evidence that flea collars transfer toxins to humans, which is why we don’t use them. Instead, we use natural essential oils for flea control.)
Protective Dog Booties
Of course, the obvious solution is to not use chemicals on your lawn and not let your dog venture into a neighbor’s manicured grass. This will not eliminate all of the exposure, as it’s now known that these toxins can travel from one yard to another. But having a naturally landscaped yard will likely mitigate a lot of this risk.
If you walk your dog in an area of treated yards, you may want to think about washing your feet every time your dog goes out, or investing in a pair of dog booties for protection.
Do Lawn Chemicals Hurt Dogs?