Is Weed And Feed Safe For Dogs? Will It Poison My Dog?

is weed and feed safe for dogs

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“Weed and Feed” is a term for a 2-in-1 lawn care solution made with herbicides (the “weed” part) and fertilizers (the “feed” part) designed to eliminate weeds and nourish the grass simultaneously. The convenience of addressing two significant lawn care tasks in one application makes weed and feed an attractive choice for homeowners seeking lush, weed-free yards. However, the chemicals that make weed and feed effective in lawn maintenance also raise significant concerns regarding pet safety, particularly for dogs.

So, is weed and feed safe for dogs? We address all your weed and feed dog-related questions by discussing the composition of the ingredients and their potential toxicity to dogs, how they work, their effectiveness, pet-safe weed and feed alternatives, and more. Let’s dive in!

NOTE: “Weed and Feed” may also be referred to as containing pesticides and fertilizer. “Pesticide” is a broader term than “herbicide.” The term pesticide refers to a product that is used to kill pests. While “pests” may evoke images of insects or rodents, weeds are also considered pests. Herbicides are pesticides that are specifically designed to kill plant pests.

Is Weed & Feed Safe For Dogs?

Generally, weed and feed brands are unsafe for pets because these chemically-based herbicides are some of the most toxic substances that represent high toxicity to targeted species (weeds) and non-targeted species, including animals and pets. Most weed and feed products in stores contain chemicals that can hurt your dog if they get in contact with them through their fur, paws, inhalation, licking, or eating.

According to a study, pesticide use in lawns and parks increased the rate of lymphoma cancer in dogs by 70%.[1] Veterinary clinics nationwide are seeing a rise in dogs that have become ill after interacting with lawn care chemicals. Similarly, another study found that dogs exposed to lawn care chemicals can have a higher bladder cancer risk.

Further studies revealed that common herbicides (2,4-D, MCPP, and Dithiopyr) found in weed and feed products move into the dog unknowingly. Scientists at Purdue University and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, found that dogs — including half of those whose owners did not treat their lawns — had herbicides in their urine. Dogs appear to get exposed during walks in the neighborhood or nearby treated areas where others have used weed killers. Evidence also indicated that once contaminated with those chemicals, dogs can pass them to their owners, children, and other pets.[2]

What Is In Weed And Feed?

There is no one set ingredient list for “weed and feed” since it is an umbrella term. However, the ingredient composition mostly depends on the type. There are two main types of weed and feed products:

  • Pre-emergent: Weed and feed that contains a pre-emergent herbicide to thwart weeds before they emerge.
  • Post-emergent: Weed and feed with a post-emergent herbicide to kill weeds after they have emerged.

Below is a breakdown of the typical bag of weed and feed ingredients. Remember, “weed” refers to the herbicide ingredients, and “feed” refers to the fertilizer ingredients.

Herbicides

 These are the most common mix of herbicides that usually make up weed and feed products.

  • 2,4-D
  • Dicamba
  • Mecoprop or MCPP (post-emergent herbicide)
  • Dithiopyr (pre-emergent herbicide)
  • Glyphosate

Fertilizers

Below are the three essential ingredients in fertilizers. Ratios vary by mix, and some may exclude phosphorous or include other ingredients. These are known as NPK.

  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphorous
  • Potassium

Are Weed And Feed Ingredients Toxic to Dogs?

Here is the toxicity analysis of each ingredient that makes up weed and feed products and if they are safe for dogs.

Is 2,4-D (Trimec) Safe For Dogs?

2,4-D is a common herbicide. 2,4-D is a plant hormone that causes broad-leafed plants to grow in improper ways, which causes them to die. It targets dicots (broad-leaved plants, including most “weeds”) while allowing monocots (like grasses) to live. According to the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC), dogs may be more sensitive to 2,4-D than other animals. Dogs that ate or drank products with 2,4-D developed vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, drooling, staggering, or convulsions.[3] 

Although it’s unclear whether your dog can get enough 2,4-D by licking sprayed grass to cause these problems, most dog owners don’t want to find out firsthand. It is also important to note that 2,4-D appears to stay on plant surfaces longer (up to 3 days) than most other herbicides.

Is Dicamba Safe For Dogs?

Dicamba is similar to the herbicide 2,4-D. Both act like natural plant hormones known as auxins. Dicamba is used on many broadleaf weeds and woody plants. These hormones help to control plant growth. Nevertheless, as the NPIC explains, dogs exposed to dicamba can experience shortness of breath and muscle spasms, and the animal may produce a lot of saliva.[4]

Is Mecoprop (MCPP) Safe For Dogs?

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has classified Mecoprop (MCPP) as toxicity class III (slightly toxic). The Encyclopedia of Toxicology notes that MCPP shows low persistence in the environment and does not tend to accumulate in animals; intoxication in humans usually occurs due to intentional ingestion. The main acute toxicity symptoms are skin and mucosal irritation and gastrointestinal and neuromuscular syndromes. MCPP may also be carcinogenic in humans.[5]

There is little evidence that MCPP is a teratogen (an agent that can cause the malformation of an embryo) in animals. Until further evidence, it should be treated as a teratogen and used cautiously around dogs.[6]

Is Dithiopyr Safe For Dogs?

Dithiopyr is a chemical often referred to by its brand name, Dimension. It’s a pre-emergent herbicide that helps control crabgrass before it appears. It’s also effective for nearly four dozen other grassy and broadleaf weeds. Thurston County Health Department performed a toxicity analysis of Dithiopyr and considered it a low acute toxicity hazard to mammals, birds, insects, and earthworms. Dithiopyr is considered highly toxic to fish and moderately toxic to crustaceans.[7]

Is Glyphosate Safe For Dogs?

It isn’t entirely clear whether Glyphosate, also known as Roundup, is safe for dogs. According to some studies, glyphosate is unlikely to cause illness or death, but other studies suggest the opposite.

Numerous cities (Miami), counties, states and countries (Netherlands) worldwide have taken steps to restrict or ban glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer.[8] 

The primary mechanism of action of glyphosate is to destroy EPSP synthase – an enzyme essential for most plants’ survival. In theory, this means dogs shouldn’t be affected by EPSP synthase since they don’t produce it. However, glyphosate isn’t the only ingredient in Roundup. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and toxicology research state it also contains other supposedly harmless substances that make glyphosate more toxic than it already is.[9],[10]

A study showed that upon contact with Roundup (glyphosate), many dogs suffer gastrointestinal and respiratory symptoms. In examining the risks of the weed killer, one group of researchers recorded dog fatalities due to Roundup. In fact, The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer stated in March 2015 that it believed glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” [11], [12]

As a result of this investigation, we are convinced that Roundup and glyphosate should not be used around dogs and humans.

Fertilizers

Commercial fertilizers provide nutrition for plants so they can flourish, but depending on the fertilizer you pick, they may contain harmful chemicals that are toxic to dogs. Generally, the main ingredients in fertilizers are Nitrogen, Phosphorous & Potassium. When used as instructed, these cause no harm to dogs. However, there are dangers associated with fertilizers and dogs.

is fertilizer safe for dogs

Is Weed And Feed Harmful to Dogs?

Weed and feed products can be harmful to dogs if not used cautiously. What’s concerning is that dogs can absorb these chemicals without direct application on your lawn. Dogs may lick weed and feed residue off the grass from a neighbor’s yard or while roaming outside.

It’s also possible for the herbicides to adhere to their fur, leading dogs to ingest them when grooming themselves. For these reasons, cleaning your dog’s fur is critical if you suspect they’ve been exposed to these chemicals.

However, there’s no need for panic. Weed and feed can be safe for pets when used according to the product label instructions. To prevent exposure, ensure that pets are not in the area during application and allow sufficient time for the product to be absorbed into the soil before allowing your dog back into the yard.

Weed & Feed Poisoning Symptoms In Dogs

If your dog ingests weed and feed, he could experience some of these symptoms.

  • Burns, rashes, or inflammation around the mouth, nose and tongue
  • Uncontrolled drooling
  • Gastric problems
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Fits or seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle weakness
  • Diarrhea
  • Respiratory problems
  • Difficulty standing or walking

What Should I Do If My Dog Reacted Badly to Weed And Feed?

Herbicide toxicity may take hours or days to manifest, so if you suspect your dog ate weed killer, seek medical attention as soon as you notice the symptoms. Ensure they have access to fresh water to maintain hydration. It’s important to call your veterinarian if your dog is experiencing any of the symptoms listed above or if you’re concerned about your dog’s condition.

Can’t reach your vet? Contact the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-764-7661 or chat live with a veterinary professional via our online vet chat or video chat support (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

Dogs showing worsening symptoms, such as blood in their vomit or stool, difficulty breathing, weakness, or collapse, should be taken to the veterinarian immediately.

How Long to Keep Pets Off After Weed And Feed?

The general rule of thumb is restricting a dog’s access to your lawn following weed and feed treatment for 48 hours. To be safer, you can opt to wait 72 hours. Your bag of weed and feed will tell you how long you should keep pets off after a weed and feed chemical lawn treatment. During this waiting time, you must water your lawn and allow it to dry. After you’ve completed this process, you’re free to let your dogs onto your lawn again. Be sure to read the directions for your product.

Below, you’ll see how much herbicides in weed and feed dilute over time.

Herbicide12 hrs24 hrs 48 hrs72 hrs1 wk
2,4-D96% 81% 24%11% ND
MCPP 98% 93% 22%18% ND
Dicamba81% 68% 17% ND ND
Source: Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Purdue University

The table above shows the findings from researchers at Purdue University and the University of North Carolina when they tested the presence of applied herbicides in grass plots under different conditions for up to 72 hours after the lawn treatment. If you want to minimize the exposure, waiting up to 72 hours (3 days) is best. Or, if you don’t want to take risks, waiting 4 to 7 days is advised.

Is Weed And Feed Safe For Dogs to Walk On?

No, weed and feed products are unsafe for dogs to walk on immediately after their application. After treating your lawn, you should always wait 48 to 72 hours before allowing pets around treated areas and letting your dog walk immediately after chemical treatment puts your pet at high risk of getting toxins on their fur or paws and potentially ingesting herbicides and fertilizers, which can be poisonous to dogs. In addition, the granular form of these products can be painful if caught in a dog’s paw pads.

Veterinarians advise rinsing the area with copious amounts of cold water if your pet develops any irritation after exposure. If you have applied weed and feed to your lawn, keep your pets off the treated area until the soil has completely absorbed the product.

How to Keep Dogs Safe After Weed And Feed Application

Pet-Safe Weed And Feed

Commercially available pet-safe weed and feed solutions are hard to find. Furthermore, some lawn care experts argue that weed and feed aren’t ideal for general use since fertilizers and weed killers should be applied at different times. It can be tricky to nail this timing, which can destroy your lawn if not used correctly. 

As a result, we recommend buying each product separately: a pet-safe lawn fertilizer and a pet-safe weed and feed solution. Our review of the best pet-safe lawn fertilizers can help you find a suitable fertilizer for your needs.

Our favorite option for a pet-safe weed killer is Green Gobbler Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer. It’s probably one of the best pet-friendly weed killers out there. The safest option is to manually remove weeds to ensure your lawn stays chemical-free. This method is 100% safe for pets and gives you direct control over weed populations.

pet safe lawn fertilizer

Preventing weeds from growing in the first place is another way to go. For this, you can use Espoma Organic Weed Preventer. It stops weeds by inhibiting root development in seedlings. It’s safe for pets and children after application. And to nourish your lawn, you can pick one of our top fertilizers.

Is Organic Weed And Feed Safe For Dogs?

You don’t have to keep your dog off the lawn if you choose organic weed and feed options. Use an organic weed-prevention product in combination with a dog-safe fertilizer if you don’t want to keep your dog off the lawn after spreading weed and feed. With this combination, your lawn pet will be safe while you feed your grass and prevent weeds from growing.

Here are some organic and natural ways to help limit safe weeds for dogs.

  • Boiling water will kill many weeds
  • Vinegar is a pretty potent plant killer
  • Salt is a relatively safe substance that is a natural weed (and grass killer).
  • Hand pull weeds
  • Grow allelopathic plants. This species of plants produces chemicals that kill other plants or prevent them from growing
  • Put mulch around your trees and in any flower beds to prevent weeds from growing
  • Burn the weeds
  • Ignore the weeds

Is Scotts Weed And Feed Safe For Dogs?

Scotts Turf Builder Weed and Feed is safe for pets if used according to the product label. Pets should not be in the area while the product is being applied. Your pet can resume normal activity once the treated areas have dried completely.

Frequently Asked Questions

Most weed and feed products can be used with dogs if you follow the label instructions. Keeping your dog off the lawn for a few days after applying the weed and feed is important, as most standard weed and feed can be toxic to dogs.

Bio Advanced Weed and Feed is safe for pets when applied following label directions. The brand recommends wearing the appropriate protective personal equipment (PPE) when mixing and using this product in areas treated with the spray mixture.

The company stays safe after two days of water thoroughly. People and pets may enter the area when the lawn is fully dry after the first watering. 

Granules of weed and feed contain herbicides and fertilizers. The granules can stick to your dog’s paws and fur if the granules haven’t dissolved. These chemicals could be consumed by your pet when it licks itself clean. Unless your dog ate a ton of weed and feed granules, this isn’t usually life-threatening, but pets may experience vomiting, excessive drooling, and diarrhea.

Vigoro weed and feed do not state if this product is safe. They have a warning saying that you should not allow people or pets to enter the treated area until the dust has settled. We don’t consider Vigoro safe for dogs.

Most weed and feed products will not kill dogs if appropriately used. However, if your dog ingests weed and feed in large amounts, that could be fatal.

Is Weed And Feed Safe For Dogs? — Conclusion

While weed and feed products can be used safely with proper precautions, there is always a risk when introducing chemicals into environments where pets live and play. The decision to use these products should be balanced with the potential risks to your pet’s health. Consulting with a veterinarian or a lawn care professional about pet-safe lawn treatment options can provide personalized advice tailored to your specific situation and needs.

Maintaining a weed-free yard while keeping your dog safe is possible. It is just a matter of using a lawn care product that is safe for dogs and applying it in a safe, sensible manner. We advise using a dog-friendly weed killer and a pet-friendly fertilizer instead of a single weed and feed product. It’s the safest way to keep lush gardens and healthy dogs.


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Sources

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

  1. National Library of Medicine: Household Chemical Exposures and the Risk of Canine Malignant Lymphoma
  2. Science of The Total Environment: Detection of Herbicides In The Urine of Pet Dogs Following Home Lawn Chemical Application|
  3. National Pesticide Information Center: 2,4-D General Fact Sheet
  4. National Pesticide Information Center: Dicamba General Fact Sheet
  5. Scient Direct: Mecoprop
  6. New Jersey Health Department of Health: Mecoprop Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet
  7. Thurston County Health Department: Dithiopyr
  8. Baum Hedund Law: Where is Glyphosate Banned?
  9. Environmental Protection Agency: Glyphosate
  10. Toxicology: Ethoxylated Adjuvants of Glyphosate-Based Herbicides Are Active Principles of Human Cell Toxicity
  11. RsearchGate: Glyphosate Toxicity In Animals
  12. World Health Organization: IARC Monograph on Glyphosate
Editorial Team at Canine Bible

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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