Lawn maintenance companies and home owners alike have had ample days to get into their fall lawn maintenance activities. These activities involve putting fertilizer and weed control chemicals on yards. Fall is a crucial time as it usually provides ample rain to drive the fertilizers and weed killers into the soil. When spring arrives, your grass has the nutrients it needs to get a healthy start on the growing season, while the weeds are encouraged to just “go away”.
So what’s the issue?
Lawn chemicals have all kinds of warnings on them for consumers. The Scotts Turf Builder Lawn Fertilizer label, for example, says to make sure the product does not touch your skin or clothing. It also says that if you have inhaled the product for long periods of time you may experience damage to your central nervous system.
The same dangers exist for your pet as it does for humans. In fact, if you think about your dog, it is thousands of times more sensitive to toxic chemicals in the environment. Many experts consider animals to be sentinels, or guardians to human health. Do you remember the old tale of the canary in the coal mine? Canaries were used to protect miners from being killed by methane gas. When the canary fell off its perch the miners knew they had only a short time to exit the mine. So to be certain, your pet could experience the same outcome if not taken care of properly.
Compounding this issue is the very dry fall we’ve had in Minnesota this year. The lack of rain has allowed the chemicals to sit on top of the soil for much longer than is normal. When you are walking your dog a small amount of these chemicals will stick to his legs and under his belly.
But what can you do?
The best way to keep your dog safe is to clean him after your walk. The ideal time is really before he has had a chance to lick his fur. For a simple solution, either wipe your dog down with a wet cloth that contains a safe cleaning solution or give your pet a bath. The cleaning solution needs to be able to cut through the oily residue of the lawn chemicals. Personally, I use a natural cleaning solution that is non-toxic and safe for pets. This fully cleans the pet’s hair, and better yet, it is non-toxic for your pet as well as safe for the environment.
Next time you are out walking your dog and you see a sign that reads, “This area has been chemically treated. Keep children & pets off until dry,” Don’t worry. You know what you can do to keep your pet safe!