I take my dog for a walk twice a day. I also fertilize my yard twice a year. When we go for a walk, I don't always look to see if the yards in our neighborhood have fertilizer on them. Sometimes I can see some of the little granules on the sidewalk as we are walking by. So how dangerous is this for my pooch and others?
Fertilizers used in our gardens to enhance the beauty and growth of our plants can be very toxic to our pets when ingested or exposed to the skin and mucus membranes. Quite often, the fertilizers that we use are mixed with substances that are more harmful than the fertilizers themselves.
The answer to this question depends on the type of lawn fertilizer. The same elements that make grass grow green and lush often cause canine health problems. To have both a beautiful lawn and a healthy pup, what can we do?
The dilemma with the application of lawn fertilizer is that it goes exactly where your dog wants to put his nose. Dogs by nature have their noses on the ground, sniffing everything. They like to smell the ground and poke their nose into holes. Trouble is, that is where the fertilizer goes until it is absorbed into the ground for the roots of your lawn to convert to food for the grass. A dog can be exposed to fertilizer by simply walking across a lawn that has been treated. Some fertilizer residues can stay in toxic form for days to weeks. Aside from the accidental ingestion of a product that the pet finds palatable, chewing on treated grass or licking the fur and feet after a dermal exposure can cause poisonous effects.
Lawn fertilizers carry nitrogen, phosphate and potassium, all of which cause irritation to a dog's stomach when ingested. Some of the additives that may be present in fertilizer are: Iron Disulfoton (responsible for seizures and pancreatitis) Copper Zinc Phosphorous and Ammonium (irritates skin and lungs).
Fertilizer and Stomach Troubles
A study conducted by Purdue University shows that the ingestion of insecticides and herbicides fosters a higher risk of bladder cancer in canines. A case of mild exposure to fertilizer can result in burns on the pads of the feet (if your pet walked through or rolled in your fertilizer application) or irritation to the mouth or eyes. Lawn fertilizers can cause skin irritation in dogs. While it's unlikely an ingestion of these elements will cause death, they were never intended to be in your dog's digestive system. They will most likely cause him a moderate to severe stomachache and bring on vomiting and diarrhea. DVM 360 states that a dog ingesting larger amounts of phosphorus and potassium commonly reacts by being lethargic.
What is Fertilizers Poisoning?
When our canine family members come in contact with fertilizer products, the effects can range from mild to severe. Depending on the length of time of contact and how the fertilizer poisoning occurred, complications may include oral burns and stomach irritation. The accidental ingestion of fertilizer by your dog means that he has eaten a product that can possibly contain harmful substances (herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides) in addition to the compounds (phosphorous, iron, nitrogen) which are toxic when consumed in large amounts. In addition to vomiting and breathing difficulties, fertilizers can cause ulceration in the gastrointestinal tract and burns on the skin. If you suspect that your dog has eaten fertilizer, or of you have recently used the product in your garden and he is acting ill, a visit to the clinic is warranted without delay.
Since pet owners want both worlds -- a lush lawn and a protected dog, several manufacturers of lawn care products now produce fertilizers that are considered organic or "more safe" for lawns frequented by animal companions. Even when marketed as "safe," some of these lawn applications may still contain elements that could be harmful to a canine. Thoroughly check the labels to determine the safety of a product. It can take a bit of searching to find a truly pet-safe lawn fertilizer, according to Gardening Central. Some fertilizers are clearly marked as "not safe" while others have no declaration either way.
Keep Off The Grass
The Dog Owner's Guide suggests keeping pets off treated grass for 24 hours, as nitrogen can burn the pads of a dog's foot. The guide also recommends keeping pets indoors during application to prevent an airborne inhalation or skin contact.
In the case of liquid fertilizer, the SFGate states that dogs should be kept off of lawns until the grass is visibly dry. For granular fertilizer, keeping dogs away from grass for 24 hours allows enough time for the soil to absorb the pellets.
What to do if you suspect your dog has come in contact with fertilizer.
. Bring him to the veterinarian to determine the level of toxicosis. In the case of a basic fertilizer, the symptoms are mostly gastrointestinal and often will resolve within a day or two. It’s best to have your pet checked and be sure to bring along the container or product leaflet so the veterinarian can verify the ingredients of the product. If the fertilizer contains herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides the situation may become more urgent because the toxic effects of fertilizer containing these additives are much harsher. The veterinarian will base the diagnosis on clinical signs (vomiting, dermal ulcers) and may want to do additional urinalysis and blood testing (to check toxicity levels or to look for signs of secondary illness like pancreatitis), depending on the type of fertilizer.
Treatment will vary depending on factors such as the type of fertilizer exposure or ingestion, how much of the product was eaten, and how long the fertilizer was on the skin. Treatment for fertilizer poisoning in the case of additional herbicides and pesticides will vary due to the product.
If you think your dog has come across fertilizer, error on the side of caution and take them to your vet.
We want beautiful gardens all year long, from early spring up until the first frost. How do we do that? There is a science behind it all.
Gardening can be considered both as an art, concerned with arranging plants harmoniously in their surroundings, and as a science, encompassing the principles and techniques of plant cultivation. Because plants are often grown in conditions very different from those of their natural environment, it is necessary to apply cultivation techniques stemming from plant physiology, chemistry, and botany, that are modified and applied by the experience of the planter.
The gardener attends to a number of basic processes: combating weeds and pests; using space for enough growth between plants; feeding, watering, and pruning; and conditioning the soil. The gardener also assesses and accommodates the temperature, wind, rainfall, sunlight, and shade found within the garden boundaries. A major part of the fascination of gardening is that in problems and potential, no one garden is quite like another.
The gardener needs to assess by watching to see when the garden gets sunlight (morning, noon or late afternoon) and how long the sun lasts over the specific plot of land chosen for the garden. This will help determine which plants will thrive the best.
The soil needs to be tested to see if it is too acidic. The proper nutrients need to be added, so each plant grows to it's full potential.
Designing a year-round garden includes choosing appropriate plants for your region. Depending on where you live, you can use any combination of perennials, annuals and container plantings for these all-season flower gardens. Foliage is a must to fill in and create interest. It is best to choose at least two types of plants that will flower together during each season.
If you would like to enjoy year-round color in your flower beds, you have to go to the garden center in spring with one concept foremost in your mind: continuous sequence of bloom. Simply picking out plants that bear great-looking flowers in late spring will not get the job done. They look wonderful at the time, but you must think ahead to when they will not be in bloom.
There needs to be plants that flower both before and after each other, to keep the interest and color flowing. Foliage plants help here, too, as mentioned above. You also must add some evergreens to your landscaping to have visual interest in your yard 365 days a year.
Planting trees and shrubs, especially flowering ones are a great idea to achieve year round cover. They offer interest through their form and foliage as well as through their flowers. Any gardener seeking great color needs perennial flowers, shrubs, grasses and annual flowers.
Owner of PS Garden Whisperers.