The term "weed and feed" refers to lawn care products that contain a combination of fertilizer and herbicides. Most of the products available in stores contain chemicals. While they can help nourish your lawn and keep the weeds at bay, they can harm your pets if used improperly.
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Keep Pets Away
Commercial weed and feed products contain chemicals that might hurt your pets if they get the toxins on their fur or paws. To avoid this, water the lawn before applying commercial weed and feed products. This causes the fertilizers and herbicides to adhere to the grass blades. It stays on the grass blades until you water the lawn again, some 24 to 48 hours after the application. Be sure to check the label for warnings and instructions.
During the period between the first and second watering, pets should not be allowed on the lawn. The chemicals are present on the grass blades and your dog or cat can lick up the toxins on their fur or paws. Dogs might even eat grass treated with the chemicals.
When you water the lawn again, you wash the chemicals from the foliage. It passes into the soil where it is absorbed by the plant roots and kills the weeds. At this point, your lawn is safe for pets again but, again, it's important that you check the label of your product for specific timing.
Possible Effects of Exposure
If your pets encounter freshly applied powdered or wet weed and feed on your lawn, they might eat plants containing the toxins or lick it off of their fur. How dangerous this is to your pet depends on a variety of factors including the size of the pet and how much was ingested. Ingesting small amounts of fertilizer will cause short term gastrointestinal issues, while larger amounts can result in severe toxic effects like drooling, vomiting and diarrhea, and trouble breathing. Consuming herbicides can also cause neurological problems.
Head to the vet if your pet has ingested any weed and feed in your yard.
- Menards: What to Know About Weed and Feed Fertilizer
- American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: ASPCA Guide to Pet-Safe Gardening
- Pet Poison Helpline: Summer Pet Poisons
- The Science of the Total Environment: Detection of Herbicides in the Urine of Pet Dogs Following Home Lawn Chemical Application
- Lowe's: Care for Your Lawn Safely