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“Weed and Feed” is a term for 2-in-1 lawn care products made with herbicides and fertilizers. Weed and feed contain both chemical herbicides and chemical fertilizers to kill weeds and nourish your grass simultaneously.
Naturally, you may be wondering if weed and feed is safe for dogs. After all, it’s an herbicide designed to kill weeds – so surely it must be harmful to dogs, right?
Whether dog owners should use weed and feed around dogs can be a question harder to answer than you initially think. We answer all your weed and feed dog-related questions by discussing the ingredients’ composition and potential toxicity to dogs (if any), how it works, effectiveness, and other downsides.
And, in case you conclude, from this information, that you would like to use weed and feed products, we provide you with the best pet-safe weed and feed options. But, if you’d prefer to use alternatives, you’ll learn about those, too. Let’s dive right in!Table of Contents 📖
NOTE: While “weed and feed” refer to lawn products containing herbicides (weed killers, the “weed” part of the name) and fertilizers (the “feed” part), often weed and feed products may also be referred to as containing pesticides and fertilizer, which is confusing for beginners. “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 not safe 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 available 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%. Veterinary clinics across the country 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 herbicides (2,4-D, MCPP, and dithiopyr) move into the dog and are detectable. 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 these chemicals to their owners, children, and other pets in the house.
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 herbicides ingredients and “feed” to the fertilizer ingredients.
These are the most common mix of herbicides that usually make up weed and feed products.
- Mecoprop or MCPP (post-emergent herbicide)
- Dithiopyr (pre-emergent herbicide)
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.
Are Weed And Feed Ingredients Toxic to Dogs?
Is weed and feed toxic to dogs?
Now that you know the makeup of most weed and feed products, here is an in-depth look at each ingredient 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.
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 for 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 explained by the NPIC, dogs exposed to dicamba can experience shortness of breath and muscle spasms and the animal may produce a lot of salivae.
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.
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 with caution around dogs.
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 types of 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.
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) throughout the world have taken steps to restrict or ban glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer.
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.,
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.” , 
As a result of all this investigation, we are convinced that Roundup and glyphosate should not be used around dogs and humans.
Commercial fertilizers provide nutrition for plants so they can flourish, but depending on the fertilizer you pick, they may contain harmful chemicals which 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 Weed And Feed Harmful To Dogs?
So, can weed and feed hurt your dog?
After carefully analyzing each ingredient found in weed and feed products, we can objectively say that weed and feed products can severely harm dogs if not used correctly. The scary part is that dogs can absorb these chemicals even if you don’t use them on your lawns. Dogs may lick lawn weed and feed off of the grass from your neighbor or while roaming around outside.
It’s also possible for the weed (herbicides) to adhere to their fur and for the dogs to lick it off later. For these reasons, cleaning your dog’s fur is critical if you think he has been exposed.
You do not need to panic, though. Weed and Feed can be safe for pets when it is used according to the product label. You want to ensure pets are not in the area while applying the product and allow the product to be absorbed before letting your dog back in your yard to avoid exposure.
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
- Fits or seizures
- Muscle weakness
- Respiratory problems
- Difficulty standing or walking
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. If you suspect weed killer poisoning, contact your veterinarian, ask a live vet online or call the animal poison control hotline at 888-426-4435. A consultation fee may apply.
How Long to Keep Pets Off After Weed And Feed?
How long after weed and feed can dogs go out?
The general rule of thumb is to restrict a dog’s access to your lawn following weed and feed treatment for 48 hours. To be on the safer side, 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 will need to 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.
|12 hrs||24 hrs||48 hrs||72 hrs||1 wk|
The table above shows the finding from researchers at Purdue University and the University of North Carolina when they tested the presence of applied herbicides to grass plots under different conditions for up to 72 hours after the lawn treatment. If you want to minimize the exposure, it’s best to wait up to 72 hours (3 days). Or, if you don’t want to take any risks, waiting 4 to 7 days is advised.
Is Weed And Feed Safe For Dogs to Walk On?
No, weed and feed products are not safe for dogs to walk on immediately after their application. After treating your lawn, you should always wait at least 48 to 72 hours before allowing pets around treated areas.
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 it gets caught in a dog’s paw pads.
Veterinarians advise rinsing the area with copious amounts of cold water if your pet develops any irritation from exposure after that time.
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.
Weed And Feed Dog Safety
Follow these weed and feed safety tips to keep dogs safe.
1. Read the label carefully. Some are marked as pet safe, but they may offer specific instructions for keeping your pets unharmed while using the product.
2. Secure storage. Make sure that you store weed and feed in locked cabinets or places where your pet will never be able to access them.
3. Talk to your lawn company. If a company maintains your lawn, inform them that you have pets and ask for the company’s safety recommendations.
4. Opt for pet-safe weed and feed products. Purchase dog-friendly feed and weed solutions that are made with less toxic ingredients than many commercial weed killers
5. Try hand weeding. It can be time-consuming, but it is good, healthy exercise and a completely non-toxic way to eliminate weeds.
6. Organic alternative. Organic weed-and-feed options are less likely to cause harm to your pet when used correctly.
Best Pet Safe Weed & Feed
Looking for the best weed and feed that is safe for dogs?
It’s common for homeowners and landscapers to use weed and feed since they eliminate the need for two separate products. However, they aren’t a great option for pet owners and we don’t advise their use as the majority contain components that are not safe for pups.
Some 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.
On top of that, our research team could not find a dog-friendly weed and feed product. That doesn’t mean you can’t find one on the market or that using one not designed for pets won’t be safe. But, it’s not advisable to gamble with your pet’s health.
As a result, it is best to use two pet-safe products: A weed-killer and a pet-safe fertilizer.
Here are your options:
Check out our review of the best pet-safe lawn fertilizers to find a suitable fertilizer for your needs. And for a pet-safe weed killer, our favorite option is Green Gobbler Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer. Green Gobbler is probably the best pet-friendly weed killer out there.
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 weeds that are safe 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 produce 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
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most commonly asked questions about weed and feed dog safety.
Is Scotts Weed And Feed Safe For Dogs?
If used according to the product label, Scotts Turf Builder Weed and Feed is safe for pets. Pets should not be in the area while the product is being applied. You can allow your pet to resume normal activity once the treated areas have dried completely.
Can I Use Weed And Feed With A Dog?
As long as you follow the label instructions, most weed and feed products can be used with dogs. It is important to keep your dog off the lawn for a few days after applying the weed and feed, as most standard weed and feed can be toxic to dogs.
Is Bioadvanced Weed And Feed Safe For Pets?
Bio Advanced Weed and Feed is safe to use around pets when applied following label directions. The brand recommends wearing the appropriate protective personal equipment (PPE) when mixing and applying this product to areas treated with the spray mixture.
Is Expert Gardener Weed And Feed Safe For Pets?
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.
Is Granular Weed And Feed Safe For Dogs?
Granules of weed and feed contain herbicides and fertilizers. If the granules haven’t dissolved, they can stick to your dog’s paws and fur. 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.
Is Vigoro Weed And Feed Safe For Dogs?
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.
Will Weed And Feed Kill 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
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.