Most dogs don't just lie in the grass -- they roll in it, graze in it, sniff out interesting things in it. This natural dog behavior can lead to both immediate and ongoing canine health problems from pesticide treated lawns. While you may be able to control the extent to which your dog is exposed in your own yard, you cannot always be aware of what and when the lawns at our local dog parks, such as William A. Pitt, Centennial Dog Park, Shelby Dog Park, Barkwood Dog Park, etc. have been treated with.
When your dog rolls around in a pesticide-treated lawn, he/she can be picking up whatever residues remain on the grass from chemical treatments. What gets on your dog's coat or skin is just a quick lick away from entering his digestive system. In addition, because they are close to the ground, dogs are more likely than humans to inhale toxic fumes -- or in some cases, the substance itself.
Pesticide residue on your dog's coat and paws is tracked into your house, where it is ground into your carpet and your dog's favorite lounging spots. Because pesticides break down fastest when exposed to sunlight and water, they can linger indoors for years. Indoor levels of pesticides can rise much higher than outside levels, according to the Pesticide Education Center. The highest concentrations of lawn care chemicals inside a home are typically found in carpet dust -- putting your dog at risk of daily exposure to toxins.
Dogs experience the same reactions to pesticide exposure as do humans. These include immediate symptoms such as skin rashes, nausea and vomiting, eye irritations, and respiratory problems. Longer term health issues are more serious. Dogs exposed to lawn chemicals have herbicides in their urine. More serious concerns exist, as well: according to a recent study published in the journal Environmental Research, dogs exposed to herbicide-treated lawns have an elevated risk of developing bladder cancer.
While organic lawn fertilizers and amendments are the better choice for the environment and the overall extended health of your lawn, they are not, as one might assume, necessarily safer for dogs. Organic blood and bone meal fertilizers are made from animal products that may attract your dog. Like their chemical counterparts, organic fertilizers can cause digestive complications, intestinal obstructions, pancreatitis, iron toxicity and bloody diarrhea if ingested.
Keep your dog away from treated areas for at least as long as the package label suggests; longer is better. Lawn chemicals have been found to stay on grass for at least 48 hours after application. For the first few days after treatment, wipe your dog’s paws before letting him/her into the house and try to keep him from eating the grass.
Better yet, bring him or her into WashPaw for a Self-Serve wash to guarantee all the pesticide(s) have been safely removed.