Is Lawn Fertilizer Safe For Dogs? Will It Hurt My Dog?

is lawn fertilizer safe for dogs

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When it comes to fertilizing your lawn, many options are available. You can choose from organic or synthetic fertilizers, and you can even buy pre-mixed solutions. But one question often arises: Is lawn fertilizer safe for dogs?

Typically, lawn fertilizers contain essential nutrients for plant growth. However, these same nutrients can be toxic to dogs if ingested in large quantities. But, how do you know if your lawn fertilizer is safe for your dog? What are those toxic ingredients in fertilizers for dogs? Where can you find lawn fertilizers that are safe for pets?

Today, we will show you how to identify toxic pet lawn fertilizers, what a safe fertilizer for dogs is made of, and give you tips to keep Fido safe when applying fertilizer on your lawn. Let’s get started!

Table of Contents 📖

Is Lawn Fertilizer Safe For Dogs?

Traditional lawn care fertilizers that use synthetic ingredients and chemicals that may put your family and pets at risk are not safe for dogs. Fertilizers are often combined with weedkillers (herbicides), pesticides, fungicides, insecticides, and snail bait. These components make fertilizers unsafe and toxic for dogs and other pets if ingested or inhaled. For instance, by their very nature, pesticides are poisonous—their purpose is to kill insects and animals. The main types of fertilizers are solid, liquid, and granular. None of these types of fertilizer should be ingested or inhaled.

Is Lawn Fertilizer Bad For Dogs?

Lawn fertilizer chemicals have come under tremendous scrutiny in recent years and have been blamed for harming and even deaths in dogs.[1],[2]

Dogs are particularly vulnerable because they are more likely to roll around in the grass and dig in the dirt. You may not realize that your dog could be ingesting harmful chemicals every time they enjoy a romp in the backyard.

Many pet-friendly fertilizer brands have banned pesticides and certain fertilizers ingredients halting the dangers associated with their use and misuse. These decisions are not random; a study by the National Cancer Institute found that dogs were two times more likely to develop lymphoma if their owners used a popular herbicide on their lawns four or more times a year.[3]

Some fertilizers contain dangerous herbicides like organophosphates, which can cause symptoms in dogs such as tremors, seizures, and abnormal heart rates.

Are Fertilizers Toxic to Dogs?

Is lawn fertilizer harmful to dogs? Fertilizers can be dangerous and toxic to dogs, but it depends on the ingredients that make up the fertilizer.

While you can find out what the active ingredients in chemical fertilizers are through their packages, many packages fail to label the inert ingredients, which can contain poisonous substances.

Below is a breakdown of the most common substances in fertilizers, starting with the most common and inert ingredients.

Nitrogen, Phosphorus, & Potassium Fertilizers

The three primary nutrients required for plant growth are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These are typically the main ingredients in fertilizers. Most fertilizers typically contain one or more of these elements. Each of these benefits your lawn in different ways; some fertilizers contain all three.

Nitrogen is essential for leaf and stem growth, phosphorus is important for root development and flowering, and potassium helps to promote disease resistance and overall plant health.

These organic minerals usually cause no harm to our pets if they are used properly. However, they can cause a lot of damage to your dog’s intestinal tract if ingested in large quantities causing vomiting and diarrhea.

Other Ingredients

Aside from the three most common ingredients stated above, most commercial lawn fertilizers contain some amount of the products listed below that can cause an allergic or toxic reaction in your dog.

  • Herbicides (i.e., organophosphates)
  • Fungicides
  • Pesticides (i.e., carbamates)
  • Arsenic
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Iron
  • Cadmium
  • Sodium
  • Calcium
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Ammonium (irritates skin and lungs)
  • Disulfoton (responsible for seizures and pancreatitis)
  • Boron
  • Cobalt
  • Disulfoton
  • Manganese

It is recommended that your pets stay off the lawn until the fertilizer is absorbed into the soil to avoid pet poisoning. Keep fertilizer bags locked away since dogs might try to get into them.

Symptoms of Fertilizer Poisoning In Dogs

If your dog has ingested or inhaled fertilizer, here are some symptoms it could experience.

  • Ulceration in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Redness on the skin
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Tearing and redness of the eyes
  • Excessive blinking
  • Vomiting
  • Burns on the pads (if your pet walked through in your fertilizer application)
  • Licking or chewing on feet
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy and sleepiness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing

Take your dog to the vet right away if you suspect fertilizer poisoning. If your dog ingests large amounts, symptoms and complications may be more serious.

Serious Symptoms

Dogs that eat a substantial amount of fertilizer instead of accidentally ingesting it from the lawn can suffer much more serious symptoms. There are three types of symptoms for severe poisoning cases, including central (peripheral), muscarinic (parasympathetic), and nicotinic (neuromuscular and neural).

Central Symptoms

  • Anxiety
  • Coma
  • Convulsions
  • Agitation
  • Involuntary movements of the tongue
  • Loss of voluntary movement
  • Uncontrollable repetitive movements
  • Impaired digestion
  • Nerve pain and tingling
  • Numbness
  • Sweating
  • Respiratory distress
  • Restlessness

Muscarinic Symptoms:

  • Breathing trouble
  • Decreased heart rate (bradycardia)
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Excessive salivation
  • Frequent urination
  • Gastric cramping
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Slow reflexes
  • Vomiting
  • Watery eyes

Nicotinic Symptoms

  • Cramping
  • Muscle weakness
  • Paralysis
  • Respiratory paralysis
  • Twitching muscles
  • Weakness
Fertilizers containing pesticides and herbicides can be harmful to dogs — Image: Canine Bible

What Lawn Fertilizer Is Safe For Dogs?

Which lawn is fertilizer safe for dogs?

While some lawn and garden products contain chemicals that pose a risk to our four-legged companions, many brands offer products that are 100% pet-safe. A pet-safe fertilizer has an all-natural composition made up of non-toxic ingredients to help make sure you never have to choose between a beautiful green space and your pet’s safety. A pet-safe fertilizer won’t expose your pets to dangerous chemicals. Moreover, pet-friendly fertilizers are a great option that will certainly reduce the wait time required to let your pet roam freely on your lawn. 

One easy way to determine whether a particular lawn fertilizer is likely to be safe is to look for “signal” words on the label, such as “pet-safe,” “non-toxic,” and “EPA” certified when you choose lawn products.

Nevertheless, just because a product is “pet-friendly” does not mean it won’t cause harm to your pets. While the drying and absorption process will be faster, you still want to keep your pet away from the area during and after the application to avoid taking any chances. Make sure you read the instructions on the package before allowing your pet to enter the treated area.

Consider allowing your lawn to grow without using lawn chemicals if you are hesitant or fearful of using them. Natural fertilizing options include compost or bone meal as fertilizer and corn gluten to decrease weeds.

Where to Buy Pet-Safe Lawn Fertilizer?

The best place to get pet-safe lawn fertilizer is online. Read our best pet-safe grass fertilizer reviews above to find the option that meets your needs.

We searched for pet-safe lawn fertilizers at Home Depot and Lowe’s, but options are limited, and some even didn’t mention the word pet on the label, so we chose to avoid them.

Many products on the market claim to be safe for pets when it comes to lawn fertilizer. However, it is important to do your research before applying any product to your lawn.

pet safe lawn fertilizer

Is Organic Lawn Fertilizer Safe For Dogs?

Organic fertilizers should also be used with caution. While organic products are often seen as more natural and, therefore, safer for people and animals, it is important to exercise caution when using any fertilizer.

This is especially true for organic fertilizers. Dogs especially will be attracted to the smell of organic fertilizer since they are made from plants or animal byproducts like manure, guano, dried and powdered blood, ground bone, crushed shells, finely pulverized fish, phosphate rock, and wood.

While these products may be safe for plants, they can pose a risk to dogs if they ingest them. If your dog consumes too much of this product, it may experience digestive irritation or bowel obstruction, costing you a lot of money. 

Be sure you handle, use and store organic fertilizers with the same caution as inorganic fertilizers to keep your dog safe. 

Is Slow-Release Fertilizer Safe For Dogs?

Slow-release fertilizer is a type of fertilizer that is designed to release its nutrients gradually over time. This can be beneficial for plants, as it can help reduce the risk of nutrient burn and promote even growth.

However, some slow-release fertilizers contain chemicals that may harm dogs if they ingest them. For example, certain types of slow-release fertilizer contain prills or pellets coated with a substance called urea-formaldehyde. According to the EPA, formaldehyde has been shown to cause cancer in animals.[4] Other slow-release fertilizers are coated with plastic resin or sulfur-based polymers. All of these substances can be toxic to dogs if they eat enough of them, and they can also cause irritation and burns if it comes into contact with their skin. As such, it is important to exercise caution when using slow-release fertilizer around dogs and to keep them away from the area where it is being applied.

Is Nitrogen Fertilizer Safe For Dogs?

Is nitrogen lawn fertilizer harmful to dogs? The majority of lawn fertilizers contain nitrogen. These organic compounds usually cause no harm to dogs if they are correctly used. However, they can cause a lot of damage to your dog’s intestinal tract if ingested in large quantities causing vomiting and diarrhea.

Also, dogs can be susceptible to the smell of nitrogen fertilizer, so keeping them away from the area while applying it is important. Second, if your dog ingests some fertilizer, he might experience gastrointestinal upset.

Is Lawn Fertilizer Safe For Puppies?

Most commercial lawn fertilizers are toxic to puppies. Even if your puppy is not technically allergic to them, make sure your pup is not exposed to them. Though most lawn fertilizers state they are safe once they are dry, puppies may still be more susceptible to fertilizer poisoning than adult dogs due to their not fully developed immune system. Puppies are also more likely to eat or lick any on the grass, so be extra cautious in not exposing your puppy to fertilizers.

Most Toxic Lawn Care Chemical For Pets (Video)

Breeds Prone To Fertilizer Allergies

 Some breeds tend to be more susceptible to fertilizer allergies.

  • Beagles
  • Scottish Terriers
  • Shetland Sheepdogs
  • West Highland White Terriers
  • Wirehair Terriers

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most common questions about fertilizers and dog safety for dog parents.

Is Scotts Lawn Fertilizer Safe For Dogs?

Scotts Turf Builder fertilizer is dog-friendly. If you follow the directions on the bag, Scotts Turf Builder will not harm your dog, other pets, or family members. Fertilizer-only products like Turf Builder contain non-toxic compounds that don’t put your pet at risk. A few Scotts products, however, combine fertilizers with herbicides to suppress or kill weeds. Your pet’s health may be at risk from these products. These products can be highly toxic, so it’s important to keep an eye on your pet if you are using a combination of fertilizer and herbicide.

Is Liquid Lawn Fertilizer Safe For Dogs?

The answer for most liquid lawn fertilizers is that it depends on the ingredients. Most liquid fertilizers are made with NPK, which stands for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These are essential nutrients for plants but can harm dogs if ingested in large quantities. Fortunately, some liquid fertilizers are specifically designed to be safe for pets. So if you want to use liquid fertilizer on your lawn without worrying about your dog’s safety, choose a product for pet-friendly yards.

A great benefit of liquid lawn fertilizers is their faster absorption rates than solid or granular fertilizers. This means that pets can return faster to your lawn after application.

Is Simplify Lawn Fertilizer Safe For Dogs?

People and pets may return to the treated area after the dust has settled.

Is Sunday Lawn Fertilizer Safe For Dogs?

Sunday Lawn care fertilizer is designed with safety in mind. The company is extremely selective about the ingredients they use. Their ingredients break down quickly and don’t persist in the environment. After the products dry, your dogs can get back to playing outside right away.

Is 10-10-10 Fertilizer Harmful to Dogs?

10-10-10 fertilizer is not harmful to dogs. However, it is essential to use the fertilizer properly and keep your dog away from the treated area until the fertilizer has had a chance to soak into the ground. This is because the fertilizer can irritate your dog’s skin and eyes if it comes into contact with them. The second factor to consider is the type of 10-10-10 fertilizer. Some fertilizer brands contain toxic dog ingredients, so it is important to check the label before using them. As long as you keep dogs out of the area while you treat until your Fertilizer 10-10-10 has had time to dry or settle completely, it is safe for pets to return and resume normal activity.

Is Scotts Turf Builder Safe For Dogs?

Scoots Weed & Feed Turf Builder are safe for pets when used according to the product label. However, this answer is based on customer testimonials, and the company doesn’t label this product as safe for pets. While applying the product, ensure there are no pets in the area. After the treated areas have dried completely, chewing or eating grass will not harm your pet, and they can resume normal activity.

Is Lesco Fertilizer Safe For Dogs?

Lesco weed and feed fertilizers contain herbicides, which are unsafe for dogs, as are all chemical herbicide products.

Is Vigoro Fertilizer Safe For Dogs?

Upon inspecting the label, we didn’t see any pet-friendly reference, so it’s safe to assume Vigoro fertilizer is inappropriate for dogs. The company states that animals should be removed from the area before applying their Vigoro Weed & Feed Florida lawn fertilizer. Keep pets off the lawn until the product is watered in and allowed to dry.

Is Milorganite Safe For Dogs?

Milorganite is safe for children and pets when used as directed and stored out of their reach. However, the company itself says that if your dog happens to eat it, there’s a chance your pup may experience varying degrees or get sick.

Is TruGreen Lawn Care Safe For Pets?

All products used by TruGreen are registered for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and are selected based on a number of criteria, including health, safety and the environment. TruGreen advises customers to allow the fertilizer application to dry before their families and pets can resume enjoying their lawns. Depending on weather conditions, the drying process usually takes from 1-2 hours.

Conclusion: Is Lawn Fertilizer Safe For Dogs?

While lawns and gardens are great places for dogs to play and relax, it’s important to remember they can also have hazards such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Remember that your lawn is an extension of your home, especially if you have dogs. This grassy space should be a safe place for your dogs and cats to run and a comfortable area for your kids to play.

Hire a professional to apply lawn chemicals if you can. When using lawn chemicals yourself, read the label carefully, follow the directions, be aware of the effects of exposure, and do not overapply. Repeated exposure to lawn chemicals and improper handling can make them dangerous, so wear personal protective equipment. After the product is applied, the label will indicate when it is safe for dogs to re-enter the area. 

We strongly recommend using pet-safe lawn fertilizers to minimize all risks associated with fertilizing your lawn.

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Canine Bible uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

[1] WYFF News 4, [2] DMV360, [3] NYT [4] Environmental Protection Agency

Editorial Team at Canine Bible | + posts

Canine Bible authorship represents the unified voice of our entire editorial team and our in-house veterinarians rather than a single author. Each article, blog post, and review published under the Canine Bible name undergoes a rigorous review process, involving all team members to guarantee accuracy and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research. This collaborative effort is an integral part of our editorial process and aligns with our four pillars of content creation. This approach ensures our content is backed by expert knowledge and factual information, offering our readers reliable, actionable, and trustworthy content.

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